The Definitive Hands-on Guide To The New Doxa SUB 300 Carbon COSC Collection
Editor’s note: This review of the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean is part of our ‘W.R.A.T.H’ series, or ‘What’s Really Available Today Here’ watch photo reviews. It is a series where we go hands-on with watches that can at least at the time of photographing be bought! Today’s watch is brought with the grateful assistance of Doxa Watches and please note that the following opinion is solely ours, this is not a sponsored post.
1967 had its moments. Like any year, the good, the bad and the ugly. Beatles released their famous “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band” album. Hollywood wooed the younger audiences with “The Graduate”. The recreational diving industry experienced a boom. Muhammad Ali was no longer the ‘official’ champion. And the American troops were still in Vietnam.
The year also had a lot of firsts. NASA launched the Lunar Orbiter 3. The Rolling Stone magazine released its first issue. Boeing 737 made its maiden flight. Carrol Shelby released the iconic Mustang GT-500 Fastback. And smack in the middle of all this, Doxa released their now-iconic diver, the Sub300t.
A distinctive barrel-shaped, orange coloured dive watch that for all intends and forms were purposefully different from the established and expensive names by Blancpain and Rolex. It was the every day aquatic enthusiast’s trustworthy diver. Now 54 years later, the icon returns, encased inside a modern-day body.
The body has had an overhaul, but the spirit remains. Meet the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC collection.
The Watch: The Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean continues the brand’s resurrection with a new timepiece presented in 6 colours and 10 versions. The new collection follows in the successful footsteps of last year’s SUB 300 Aqua Lung US Divers LE release
Doxa is not a new brand. It may have only recently witnessed a boom in popularity and the physical presence in stores in the US and UK, but has been around for over 130 years. By talking about Doxa’s ἱστορία or Historia or history, by placing the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean into some context, makes its relevance deeper.
We have delved into the history of the brand in detail here, and it’s worth checking out in our opinion. To briefly encapsulate, Doxa is an independent manufacturer founded in 1889, though now best known for its dive watches, has a solid watchmaking pedigree. Doxa founder Georges Ducommun’s work has been honoured as early as the beginning of the 1900s at the World’s Fair held in Belgium and Italy.
Doxa Sub 300 are dive watches par excellence, but so are Tudor Black Bays Fifty-Eights and Longines Legend Divers. What sets the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon apart is the ‘distinctiveness’ of the barrel-shaped design architecture, the use of vibrant colours, the unique patented dual-bezel, relatively less common use of forged carbon body, and most importantly, one of the only timepieces that look geared towards professional (and/or recreational) diving.
I am not a diver myself, and my friends usually need something longer than a 10-foot pole to get me to go swimming. Despite living in a beautiful country with one of the best beaches in the world, an aquatic lifestyle is not something I can say I dabble in. But being close to the famous Bondi Beach in Sydney, it’s only natural to appreciate the lifestyle of those who do find water to be their second home. And I think the is where the Doxa SUB 300 carbon scores, and scores big: its ability to look completely at home in suburbs surrounding the beaches. Its design is aquatic themed, and it also sets itself apart thanks to the carbon body.
Simply put, the new Doxa SUB 300 Carbon COSC Collection is suited for those who wish to have a trusty dive watch by their side that can be worn on a daily basis by those who enjoy this refreshing lifestyle. It is also for those who would like to induce colour and fun into their collection.
The new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC collection joins alongside an array of seven other collections: Sub 200, Sub 200 C-graph, Sub 200 T.Graph, Sub 300, Sub 300T, Sub 300 carbon — this is where our hands-on fits — Sub 1500T, and Sub 4000T.
The Sub 300 carbon collection is marked by the use of the dark and ‘marbled’ aesthetic ultra-lightweight forged carbon case and a titanium chamber that ensures pressure resistance.
Most of these collections including the Sub 300 carbon follow a unifying thread, being available in the same 6 dial colours: orange Professional, silver Searambler, black Sharkhunter, navy Caribbean, yellow Divingstar, and turquoise Aquamarine.
Now while “Professional” — name that refers to the iconic coloured dial — is what the first imagery conjures when Doxa is mentioned, for this hands-on we went with the “Caribbean” variant, aka Doxa’s blue-faced dive watch.
The Elephant(s) in the room
Before we go any further, let’s address a couple of concerns that seem to have bothered the watch enthusiasts community since the launch of the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean: the movement (for the price) and the price (for the body).
Full disclosure, this is us pretty much debunking all of them barring the low power-reserve.
- Concern 1: The Tudor BB58 is a cheaper alternative with an in-house movement
Response: Yes, that’s true. But these are two different watches, with very different aesthetics. Tudor divers have also used ETA movements in the past and they follow the same design architecture as Rolex and Blancpain. Nothing wrong, it’s tried and tested and works, but the Doxa is different.
The new Doxa in carbon is blacked/greyed-out, offers a stealth vibe. It comes in six different colours, some of them bright enough to make the saddest of days cheer up. It is also water-resistant to a greater depth of 300m.
And Doxa also uniquely features patented dual bezels — based on US Navy’s findings — with the outer ring giving diving depths in meters and the inner ring providing with diving times in minutes.
Also, if we are talking about comparing with Tudor BB58, then a more just comparison will be with the new BB58 925 in silver, as both the new Doxa and Tudor are non-steel watches. The new Tudor Black Bay Fifty-Eight 925 that retails for 5’880 AUD. That’s 390 Aussie dollars extra, but obviously offers an in-house movement (with Rolex’s silicon balance spring) and an increased power reserve. I fell in love with it when I recently reviewed it, especially the dials ability to go from grey to brown in an instant, and you can read our detailed hands-on review of that here.
At the end of the day, these are both great watches, and you won’t wrong with either. But if you like the design DNA and aesthetics of a Doxa, it’s pretty unique.
- Concern 2: Next concern a lot of enthusiasts out there have is to do with Doxa’s own offerings, aka the price premium for the carbon versions. The normal Doxa Sub 300 retails for 3’950 AUD, a difference of 1’540 AUD. Technically, that’s a whole new Victorinox INOX Carbon Mechanical watch along with a normal Doxa Sub 300 for the price of the new Sub 300 carbon
Response: Now that’s a jump I agree, but it’s also like comparing apples to oranges. The carbon models have completely different aesthetic and feel to them. They are also lighter and against the black carbon framing, the dial colours pop out even more. The carbon changes colour and appearance with light adding a different look to the watch every time you flick your wrist. They feel more premium and are priced as such.
We reached out to Doxa to enquire more about the carbon material. Doxa like other Swiss luxury high-end brands uses forged carbon that benefits from being a technical and contemporary material in that it offers a non-homogeneous pattern achieved by working with randomly oriented carbon fibres.
I realise many enthusiasts may confuse this with carbon fibre but forged carbon has a different aesthetic and technical background. While carbon fibre is made by laying sheets and then infusing them with resin, forged carbon takes form thanks to a composite paste of fibres that is mixed with resin and then compressed.
Lots of websites including Pur Carbon and Wikipedia explain the difference in more detail, but in essence, back in the mid-2000s, Lamborghini was trying to replace forged aluminium suspension control arms with another material. And after extensive R&D, they came up with Forged Composite that was an advanced version of carbon fibre and provided better resistance details that matter in watches as well, such as resistance to damage, moisture, and also provides higher adaptability and increased average strength, all aspects that help Doxa mould forged carbon for their unique barrel-case shape.
In short, while carbon fibre is more commonly found everywhere, forged carbon is a relatively new development. It’s also different in aesthetics as compared to the more geometric pattern of carbon fibre, forged carbon has randomly arranged fibres that gives it a more marble-like surface that in turn becomes pretty organic and different with every piece.
And hey, if it’s good enough for Lamborghini, I’ll take it happily on my wrist.
- Concern 3: Another issue is that these movements feature a lacklustre 38-hour power reverse.
Response: This, I agree with.
I know that’s not Doxa’s fault given it’s part of the movement they use but the power reserve is simply not adequate, especially when one can find the new Tudor BB58 925 with a 70-hour power reserve for similar pricing.
- Concern 4: Like lots of their other models, these SUB 300 carbon pieces use an outsourced ETA 2824-2 movement. Nothing majorly wrong, except this calibre and its Sellita clone, SW200-1 are now used pretty much by most entry-level luxury brands. Christopher Ward offers diving watches for around 1000 dollars with a similar movement.
Response: It is true that the novelty has worn off these movements some couple of years ago, and for a brand with such a legacy, I feel it’s a bit undeserving for Doxa to be using outsourced movements. Or at least an ETA 2892-A2 would have been preferred.
But look at it this way: Christopher Ward (CW) doesn’t have the legacy (yet) that Doxa does. CW uses Sellita movements, which are ETA clones. Doxa movement is COSC-certified and is decorated by Doxa (even though it sadly can’t be seen owing to a closed case-back).
Talking about the movement, the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean uses the ETA 2824-2 movement that is adjusted in five positions as per COSC specs with an accuracy of the average rate of -4/+6 seconds per day. This 25.6mm diameter and 4.6mm thick movement comprises of 25 red rubies used for pallet jewels, features hacking seconds and an Incabloc anti-shock device, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28’000 A/h), and provides a power reserve of 38-hours. It is a workhorse movement, highly trusted and widely used within the watchmaking industry.
The Landscape (and value win for Doxa)
If you look at other similar luxury Swiss brands and what’s on offer, you begin to realise that the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean is actually a pretty good value offering.
We have another detailed post that goes deeper into this discussion, and if this something of interest to you, then you can read about it here. Below I have condensed that post, listing watches that in some shape or form compete with the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC:
» A carbon case and is a diver: Tempest Carbon 2 (1’000 USD or ~1’300 AUD) | Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon (4’750 CHF or ~6’750 AUD) | Panerai Marina Carbotech PAM 1661 ($18’500 AUD)
» A carbon case but is not a professional diver: Victorinox INOX Carbon Mechanical ($1’150 USD or ~ 1’500 AUD) | Formex Essence Leggera ($1’880 USD or ~2’400 AUD) | Breitling Colt Skyracer ($2’000 USD or ~2’700 AUD) | Oris Williams Chronograph C.F.C. ($6’250 AUD) | TAG Heuer Aquaracer Carbon ($5’950 AUD) | TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Forged Carbon Bamford Edition ($8’100 USD or ~10’400 AUD) | Girard Perregaux Laureato Absolute Rock ($16’700 USD or 21’500 AUD) | Zenith Defy Classic Carbon ($28’800 AUD) | Richard Mille RM 33-02 and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Forged Carbon (both not the same planet price wise)
» Barrel-shaped divers but not carbon cased: Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver (750 USD or ~950 AUD) | Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 (1’595 USD or ~2’000 AUD) | Aquadive Bathyscaphe 300 (2’990 USD or ~3’900 AUD)
» Similar specifications / dark aesthetics but not carbon cased: Oris Chronoris Date (2’500 AUD) | TAG Heuer Aquaracer Bamford Limited Edition ($5’650 AUD) | Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Black (6’400 Euro or ~10’000 AUD)
The bottom line is that at first, the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean may seem expensive at $5’490 AUD, but if you really look at what’s around, it is unparalleled in design and aesthetics and is a quality watch at a reasonable price.
The Hands-on Experience
So now that we have placed the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC collection into context and justified its pricing, let’s go hands-on with the watch.
Doxa is still not readily available at a lot of physical points globally, and definitely is a hard one to see in-person before buying for a lot of local Aussies here in Sydney. We figured this would be a great opportunity to provide you with a holistic hands-on experience, starting from the unboxing.
My gut reaction on picking up the watch from our concierge was how lightweight everything felt, even the packaging as a whole including the outer white cardboard box with the branding and logo.
Inside this standard box is a decent-looking blue and orange — I don’t know if all watches have the same box or they are customised to meet the respective colours of the timepieces — travel box.
The packaging is a bit of a conundrum for me, as for a brand from 1889 I was expecting perhaps a more traditional style of packaging, but given the contemporary aesthetics of the watch, the box feels fine (albeit a little less premium for a 5k+ watch).
Inside this rests the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean, and yes, it is a beauty.
But more importantly, it’s tiny! I know it’s meant to be 42.5mm in diameter but owing to the really small lug-to-lug 45mm distance and the two thick bezels, the dial itself is small. The dimensions of the dial are only 27.2mm.
I think for someone like myself with slim wrists of 16cm or lower, the Doxa 300 is an excellent design. Because of the barrel space-ship shaped design, it looks imposing on the wrist but doesn’t wear huge when you actually strap it on a slim wrist. This duality is very welcome for people with slim wrists.
One final note on the packaging: I would have preferred if the watch came with a wipe cloth — same advice we gave when we reviewed Bausele’s Vintage 2.0 and the Undone x WYGDAI customised piece — especially given the thick boxed sapphire crystal is a dust magnet.
The Watch Itself
Moving on to the actual timepiece, the unique UFO-style case design, the Mjollnir (Thor’s hammer) second’s hand, the pop of colour and the impressive legibility are what draw you in.
The XL minute’s hand — Doxa makes the minute’s hands more prominent as those are the key to reading time-elapsed underwater — is different and welcome, and the shade of the navy blue dial is both youthful and classic, and thanks to the white markers and orange minutes hand it’s a breeze to read as well.
The brooding black alternating with shades of charcoal forged carbon case has texture (and slight colours) that allow the light to caress them and induce a sense of dance on the wrist. The case also features a modern camouflage vibe that is quite handsome, and different for a diver.
I own DLC-coated and normal stainless steel divers, and the aesthetics of the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean are pleasingly individualistic.
On-Wrist Test D(r)ive
Any other diver I have reviewed so far has followed the same design language set by Fifty Fathoms. For this reason, I didn’t wish to go hands-on and review in-depth the Doxa Sub 200.
Like the rest, it’s very easy to pinpoint how similar they all look to each other, and I could go on ranting about how similar the Doxa Sub 200 looks to a CW Trident which in turn looks like the Oris Diver’s Sixty-Five range — and they all use similar Sellita/ETA outsourced movements too — but that’s irrelevant. I mean if that was the case then let’s all just buy a Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and call it a day. After all, it is pretty much the father of all luxury mechanical dive watches, including the quintessential diver, the Rolex Submariner.
On my wrist, the barrel shape stood out to me. I liked how the Doxa 300’s non-circular design looks on the wrist and the use of dual indication of dive time and depth can be pretty handy, or simply eye-catching and a great conversation starter.
There’s also something about the geometry of the watch that pleased the architect in me.
The 42.50 x 45mm x 13.40mm case sat nicely on my 16cm wrist, but more importantly, the inner circular double bezel sat very symmetrically inside the cushion-shaped case.
Not just that, moving on to the dial, the 4.30 ‘SUB 300’ text nicely mirrors the ‘DOXA’ branding at 10.30, and the date aperture at 3’o clock is not too obtrusively placed as well.
And that Mjollnir inspired second’s hand adds a sense of quirkiness to the dial that I appreciate.
Flip the watch and a ‘fallen-on-its-back-turtle-like’ caseback with branding and markings welcomes you. Made from titanium, the screw-in case back is engraved with a sailing boat.
Overall, it’s handsome, well-executed, and also very easily wearable thanks to its light — 87 grams — weight, and the rubber strap is surprisingly comfortable as well. I realise that the rubber straps might be expensive, but they are very comfortable and the integrated approach here with the case and in the same colour as the dial makes their use feel appropriate. I appreciate how for actual divers it includes a black PVD-coated folding clasp that is highlighted with the exclusive ‘DOXA fish’ symbol — that is matched to the symbol on the crown — and the strap features an adjustable diver’s wetsuit extension.
The crystal is domed and added a vintage and nostalgic charm especially when I viewed it from the side profile. This scratch-resistant sapphire crystal is also thankfully coated with anti-reflective treatment, though I reckon it should have been on both sides.
I do not dive and didn’t test this under the water, but lume shots were pretty decent, thanks to all dive-related markings featuring Super-LumiNova® luminescent coating.
I am someone who likes to use divers to time daily errands and end up using a bezel very frequently. The forged carbon black–the unidirectional rotating 120-click bezel is easy to use, doesn’t have any lags or non-required gives, and has a sweet rotating action as well, which you can hear in the short video below.
That’s All Folks!
“Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul,” said Victor Hugo.
The new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean may be encased inside a modern carbon body, but in spirit, it bears the same hallmarks that make Doxa watches distinctive. This new offering truly marks the resurrection of the brand. The reappearance of the brand maintains the survival of the brand’s 130 years old soul.
In the annals of diving watch history, Doxa is no small name. It is a brand that challenged Blancpain, collaborated with Rolex, and had family ties with Ulysses Nardin. These new colourful, lightweight, distinctive divers continue their legacy.
Waves splash, bringing with them fresh chapters with every stroke. But the sea, like the brand’s DNA, runs deep and rich. The story continues.
To find out more about the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean and other Doxa watches, please head to their website here. All images are ©Watch Ya Gonna Do About It, unless otherwise stated. We would again like to thank Doxa for sending us this watch to review.