December 2, 2022
It’s been fun to watch Doxa embrace a thoroughly enthusiast-driven angle over the course of the last several years. While the brand originally built a significant portion of its reputation by making purpose-built underwater timekeeping tools that were used by the likes of Jacques Cousteau and the fictional Dirk Pitt, the brand’s watches have also enjoyed a cult following among collectors, and many of Doxa’s more recent releases have been aimed squarely at an enthusiast audience. In addition to carbon cases and an assortment of colorful dials, the mythical Doxa Army model has also been revived for its 50th anniversary, and when the stainless steel version with a green and bronze bezel was announced earlier this summer in August 2022, I was excited to get a chance to check the watch out in the metal for a proper hands-on review.
Although the core design of the new Doxa Army has largely been carried over from the original historic model, this particular green and bronze version features a heavily enthusiast-driven twist, combining three major trends that have all been circulating the watch industry over the course of the last several years — military reissues, bronze, and the color green. Add to that the fact that this model is actually a highly capable dive watch at its heart, and it has all of the on-paper ingredients to be a serious hit among today’s collectors. So, how is the new green and bronze Doxa Army on the wrist?
Similar to the case of the brand’s popular SUB 300T, the case of the Doxa Army measures 42.5mm in diameter by 44.5mm lug-to-lug. On paper, this might initially seem rather large, but just like anyone who has ever worn a Doxa will tell you, these case proportions are highly deceiving and the watch actually wears quite a bit smaller than its official specs might otherwise indicate. The compact lug-to-lug profile goes a long way towards keeping things manageable, but the cushion shape of the case itself also creates somewhat misleading on-paper dimensions. While the case may measure 42.5mm in diameter, the bezel comes in at a total of just 38.5mm, compared to many other styles of divers where the bezel actually extends past the edge of the case. On top of that, the entire watch measures only 11.95mm-thick, and since its cushion-shaped profile allows it to sit flush against your wrist, the overall effect is a timepiece that ultimately feels quite a bit smaller than nearly any other watch with a similar case diameter. On the wrist, the Doxa Army feels noticeably more compact than something like a modern Seiko Prospex Turtle, and while it is by no means a small watch, you really should take that 42.5mm case diameter with a grain of salt.
The thinner case profile of the Doxa Army comes at the expense of less water resistance, and while the SUB 300T has a massive depth rating of 1,200 meters, the Doxa Army offers a much more realistic 300 meters of water resistance. That said, it still includes a helium escape valve on the side of the case at 9 o’clock, which seems like a slightly unnecessary feature, given that the watch itself offers a fairly standard depth rating within the realm of modern divers, and it’s not like the original vintage model was fitted with one, so historical accuracy isn’t the explanation for including this saturation diving detail on the new model either. Realistically speaking, 300 meters is more than enough water resistance for anything you might ever encounter in real-world scenarios, and the Doxa Army achieves this depth rating with a signed screw-down winding crown at 3 o’clock paired with a solid stainless steel screw-down caseback.
The top of the Doxa Army’s case is finished with circular brushing, while the sides and bottom of the lugs appear as high-polished surfaces. Fitted to the top of the case is a flat sapphire crystal, which is surrounded by this watch’s single most defining feature: a bronze bezel fitted with a hunter-green ceramic insert. The bronze bezel ring follows the brand’s same signature design with a grooved saw-tooth outer edge, while the green ceramic insert features a white 60-minute scale with luminous numerals for the five-minute markers. Other than the included strap options, the bronze bezel is the single detail that sets this particular version apart from its full-stainless steel counterpart, and it marks the first time that this popular nautically inspired metal has made an appearance on one of Doxa’s collections.
The dials and hands fitted to the new Doxa Army watches are the exact same, regardless of the bezel attached to them, and they are essentially carbon copies of the style fitted to the original vintage model, with the one exception being that the new models feature Super-LumiNova instead of tritium for their luminescence and therefore lack the small T’s on either side of the “Swiss Made” signature at the bottom near the 6 o’clock marker. The dial itself features entirely printed details and is tan/khaki in color with contrasting black and white accents and a date window at 3 o’clock. The trio of centrally-mounted hands feature distinct geometric shapes and are finished bright orange with gloss black center sections to offer added contrast and legibility. The offset, almost checkerboard style of its hour markers and minute track give the watch a distinctly vintage appearance, and just as you would expect from a brand known for its professional dive watches, each of the hour markers, plus all three of the hands are finished with green-glowing Super-LumiNova to offer a bright and highly legible display in the dark.
Given that the primary purpose of a dive watch is to offer a highly legible and water-resistant design, the movement powering timepieces of this nature is secondary to their external cases and displays provided that the selected caliber is reasonably accurate and reliable enough to deliver consistent performance. Inside the modern versions of the Doxa Army, you will find the highly popular ETA 2824/Sellita SW200 automatic movement, which is probably the single most popular self-winding caliber used by brands within the Swiss watch industry. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 38 hours, this 25-jewel movement is entirely inauspicious, although it offers what is universally considered to be a highly reliable and proven design. Although the particular version fitted to the Doxa Army does feature a branded rotor, performance specs are entirely standard, and the primary appeal of having a movement like this inside a sport/tool watch is that it is easily serviced and affordable to repair/maintain, which makes it well-suited for rugged and active use, compared to proprietary in-house calibers that need to be sent back to the manufacturer whenever work needs to be performed.
Strap options for the bronze and green bezel version of the Doxa Army include a stainless steel “beads of rice” bracelet or the choice of an FKM rubber strap in either black or green, although the green rubber strap is the only option not available for the standard stainless steel model. Additionally, all versions of the Doxa Army include an additional camouflage print nylon NATO strap that has chunky brushed hardware and features the original camo pattern of the field uniforms worn by the Swiss Army. The 20mm rubber strap contours to the case and briefly flares out to approximately 23mm before quickly tapering back down to 20mm where it attaches to the deployant-style folding clasp. Featuring a double push-button release and signed with the Doxa logo, the clasp offers a built-in wetsuit extension system that offers seven incremental positions of adjustment and can be expanded by pushing the two small additional buttons located on either side of the clasp. Contracting the extension can be done by simply squeezing the two ends together, which means that this can be completed without needing to press any of the buttons or even having to remove the watch from your wrist.
When it comes to pricing and value, the bronze and green bezel version of the Doxa Army is somewhat of a premium option within the brand’s catalog. When purchased on either of the rubber strap options, this variation of the Doxa Army is accompanied by an official retail price of $2,250 USD, which represents a $400 premium compared to the similar SUB 300T on a rubber strap, which also offers four times the amount of water resistance (albeit a slightly thicker case profile). Even the full-stainless steel version of the Doxa Army represents a $200 premium compared to its SUB 300T equivalent, so the Army series as a whole is priced slightly higher than the brand’s normal divers, and some of this may simply be due to the fact that it features a luminous ceramic bezel compared to the engraved stainless steel bezels fitted to the standard SUB 300T lineup. That being said, even if you were to opt for the more-expensive bracelet model, we are still talking about a watch that can be purchased for well under $2,500, which means that none of the versions of the standard-production Doxa Army are so expensive or precious that actually using them for rugged use would come with an excessive amount of mental baggage. While the original Doxa Army was intended to be a highly purpose-built tool, the modern bronze bezel variation is arguably the most enthusiast-driven model that Doxa has ever released, and it should be taken as a fairly good sign that the brand is very much in-tune with its present-day customers. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.