During the early days of dive watches in the ‘50s and ‘60s, divers were often put into two distinct categories. First, there were the professional-aimed divers: the bold, oversized (for their day), and heavily equipped timepieces that would largely set the template for the most familiar and successful dive watches of today. In addition, there were skin divers, which were lighter-duty, smaller, and lower-cost options intended more for hobbyists and vacation divers. Over the years, many of these skin diver designs shared suppliers for cases, dials, and movements, leading to a recognizable “skin diver look” across a broad range of manufacturers and years of production. Of all the brands associated with the skin diver style, few if any had as much influence on the genre as Aquastar. For its latest release, Aquastar returns to the diver that started it all: the 1957 Model 60. Famously worn by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Don Walsh during his descent to the Marianas Trench’s Challenger Deep aboard the bathyscaphe Trieste on January 23, 1960, the Model 60 is one of the watches that would define the skin diver as a style. The newly revived Aquastar Model 60 aims to faithfully recreate Walsh’s record-setting timepiece with modern amenities, presenting a truly era-accurate version of the skin diver genre to a new generation.

Measuring in at 37mm-wide and a balanced 11mm-thick, the Aquastar Model 60’s stainless steel case wears impressively close to its ‘50s inspiration with a handful of notable modern tweaks. The overall case shape is archetypal skin diver fare, with squared-off lugs, a gently arcing mid-case profile, and a chunky, unguarded signed pillbox crown. With light, fully brushed surfaces and a lack of complex contours or chamfers, this case is ruthlessly simple by modern dive watch standards but accurately captures the look and feel of the ‘50s and ‘60s divers it emulates. For better or worse, this faithfulness extends to the sunburst-textured bezel as well. The original vintage Aquastar Model 60 was the first to include a friction ring for its rotating dive bezel — an important safety innovation to prevent accidental adjustment of the bezel for the ‘50s, but a far cry in both security and utility from the ratcheting unidirectional bezels modern dive watch enthusiasts are accustomed to. To keep the feel of the ‘50s original alive, however, Aquastar opts for a 60-click bidirectional bezel here. This may feel appropriately vintage on the wrist, but it also poses a sizeable risk for those wanting to use this 200-meter-rated diver for its intended purpose underwater. The engraved caseback is an impressively faithful recreation as well, with Aquastar’s distinctive sawtooth caseback edge intact. The real visual shift from the original Model 60’s case to this modern interpretation comes through the crystal. Rather than trying to match the high-rise box profile of the original, the new Model 60 instead opts for a low-dome sapphire crystal for a decidedly more modern silhouette.

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Like the case, the dial of the Aquastar Model 60 is suitably retro and almost elementally simple. The paddle handset and slightly undersized printed diver indices are topped off with creamy light khaki lume, further enhancing the vintage feel on the wrist. In addition, there’s the dial surface itself, which eschews the usual matter finishing found on most modern divers in favor of high-gloss piano black. Although it may not have the complexity of a sunburst or a textured finish, this shiny surface effectively sets the Model 60 apart from a sea of similar divers. The large printed Aquastar script logo at 12 o’clock and the small printed sea star emblem at 6 o’clock are also faithful vintage throwbacks and leave plenty of open negative space for a clean, spacious look. However, the simple cutout date window at 3 o’clock may draw some enthusiast ire for its unadorned, bright white execution, regardless of its faithfulness to the ‘50s original.

Aquastar powers the new Model 60 with a Top Grade La Joux-Perret G100 automatic movement. The G100 is part of La Joux-Perret’s new generation of Swiss-made alternatives to the ubiquitous offerings from ETA and Sellita, and it outstrips both these rivals in pure performance. The G100 offers a hefty 62-hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate, and the Top Grade example inside the Model 60 is adjusted in four positions for greater accuracy. Our accuracy testing bears out the effectiveness of this process, with the Model 60 averaging a gain of only +3 seconds per day through our testing period. Our sample of the Aquastar Model 60 arrived on the optional black rubber tropic strap, but a classic black NATO strap is also available. This tropic strap is another visual callback to the midcentury original, but this modern rubber design is leagues more comfortable than the often-stiff rubber of vintage tropic strap designs. In addition, the signed buckle is handsomely sculpted, with a broad polished chamfer adding an attractive visual highlight.

By blending an impressively faithful vintage skin diver design with thoroughly modern build quality, the Aquastar Model 60 delivers a compelling revival of the often-overlooked skin diver genre. The new Aquastar Model 60 is available now through the brand’s e-commerce platform and carries an MSRP of $1,290 USD as of press time. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.

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Necessary Data
>Brand: Aquastar
>Model: Model 60
>Price$1,290 USD
>Size: 37mm-wide, 11mm-thick, 47mm lug-to-lug
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a casual weekend-wear diver, or as a capable vacation watch.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Vintage dive watch lovers looking for a modern revival of the classic skin diver formula.
>Best characteristic of watch: Period-correct sizing; impressive movement; classic, comfortable strap.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Simplistic finishing; bi-directional bezel is a serious liability for diving.

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