Why The New Doxa SUB 300 Carbon Is A Quality Watch At A Reasonable Price
Editor’s note: We recently spent a fortnight with the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean as part of our ‘W.R.A.T.H’ watch photo review series (and you can read the review here). Today we are looking at how the combination of the brand’s history and the competition from other brands makes it a quality watch at a reasonable price. Please note that the following opinion is solely ours and this is not a sponsored post.
I guess the main issue I see with the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean is that it is not immediately recognised as a great watch by the larger watch enthusiast community. You have to look into the history of the watch — the design cues that have stemmed from practicality and are not just for the show — and the legacy of the brand, and what’s out there as its competition to really appreciate it.
And once you do your due diligence, you realise that it is like finding a needle in a haystack when it comes to discovering alternatives that offer all the features that the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean features.
So here’s our deep dive (pun intended) into the history of the brand and to establish the relevance of the new timepiece.
- Should you wish to skip the read and just want the gist, then here’s the takeaway: the new modern-day Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean is perhaps the only COSC-certified dive watch not in a pure-circular form in forged carbon with an intentionally larger and brighter minutes hand to read time-elapsed easily and a patented dual bezel. And it comes in an array of bright colours.
Geeking With Greek
It’s time to experience the ‘κλέος’ of diving legacy with the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC, a timepiece that is designed ‘aièn aristeúein’.
aièn aristeúein is Greek for ‘ever to excel’. κλέος is Greek for glory. In English, κλέος is Doxa.
Given there is this Greek reference to the brand, I figured it would be fun to start this article with some Greek wisdom.
Homer’s ancient and epic Greek poem Iliad in its sixth book features a speech, a portion of which reads: “Ever to excel, to do better than others, and to bring glory to your forebears, who indeed were very great … This is my ancestry”.
The new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean is a testament to this ideology. It’s a true example of the resurrection of a legendary diving watch.
It’s a modern-day timepiece, designed ever to excel, standing tall on the foundations laid in 1967, designed in competition with and intended for the general public to do better than others — such as the more niche and expensive 1953 Blancpain Fifty Fathoms of the times — and the new carbon body brings glory to the first Doxa Sub300t, a watch that indeed was great… This is Doxa’s legacy.
Let’s start by talking about Doxa’s ἱστορία or Historia or history, by placing the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean into some context.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall”. Doxa, whose name like we said comes from the Greek word κλέος meaning glory, is an embodiment of this sentiment.
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.
Fast forward and the 1960s saw the release of the iconic Doxa Sub300t. 14 years after Blancpain’s 1953 Fifty Fathoms, this Doxa diver made waves at the Baselworld in 1967.
The Doxa Sub300t diver was released after extensive R&D of three years, and shared some of the same pedigree as the Fifty Fathoms while bringing its own characteristics to the mix: rotating double bezels, helium escape valve for divers, connection to Jacques Cousteau and professional diver Claude Wesly, and 300m water-resistance.
Of course, Doxa put their own spin by moving away from Fifty Fathoms’ stereotypical black dials, luminescent and hard to miss indices and hands, basic unidirectional bezels, thick straps and relatively smaller sizes of 42mm or less. Relatively because 42mm was still large for the 1960s, but not large enough for Doxa.
The Doxa Sub300t was:
- 45mm in diameter
- featured a bright orange tritium dial based on research that allowed it to be legible even in murky waters
- a more complex rotating patented bezel derived from the US Navy’s no-decompression limit table that had two separate scales to reliably calculate and monitor dive times; orange for the outer ‘depth’ ring, and black for the inner ‘minute’ ring
- and a metal bracelet with an added innovative flex buckle that allowed it to fit around a wetsuit sleeve with minimum tinkering
And the end 1960s not only saw the release of these orange-dialled purpose-built and professional-grade diving watches that were also accessible to the general public but also a collaboration with none other than the granddaddy of water-resistant timepieces, Rolex, with the Doxa SUB 300T Conquistador that became the first diving watch to feature a helium release valve (HRV).
Although it may have fallen in the 1970s/80s thanks to the Swiss quartz, like the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote above, Doxa’s glory is reflected in rising again. And again (read 1997 and 2017). Its most recent full-blown resurrection has been in 2019, and in the last two years, the brand has conquered new heights, started new partnerships, added new models, and is regaining its status as a legendary dive-watch maker.
In short, since its inception in 1889, the brand now best known for its eclectic diving watches has gone through its share of awards, ups & downs, winning accolades and also dropping off the radar. And when one buys a Doxa, they get more than just a great diver; they get to take home a piece of horological history that’s emblematic of good craftsmanship and resilience.
Moving on from the historical importance, next, let’s have a gander at the competition. 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.
Look, I’ll be honest. When I first saw the price of the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean, I was taken aback. But when I looked at what’s around, I couldn’t find any watch that offers all the combinations that make the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean unique: a barrel-shaped professional diver feat. 300m water resistance in a multitude of colours with a forged carbon body and COSC-certification under 6k AUD.
- Let’s start with the cheapest option we can think of, the Tempest Carbon 2. It features a Japanese Miyota Calibre 9015 movement inside a 100% Forged Carbon Fiber body
- For anyone looking at maximum bang for their buck, they can’t go wrong with this. It is very good value for money for the material and specifications, but that said, it is not a conventional dive watch (featuring an internal rotating bezel), is sans a Swiss movement (if that makes a difference to anyone interested), uses a PVD-coated stainless steel caseback and not a titanium one like Doxa, is less water-resistant to 200m, is the same ∅42.5mm as Doxa but is considerably larger lug-to-lug coming it at 50mm, is way thicker at 17.75mm, and doesn’t feature a variety of colours on dials. It retails for 1’000 USD (~1’300 AUD)
- Bulova Oceanographer Devil Diver comes in a similar shaped case and a bright orange dial. It is 41mm x 14.55mm and features a stainless steel case with 200m water resistance. It retails for a cheaper 750 USD (~950 AUD)
- Another relatively inexpensive watch is the Victorinox INOX Carbon Mechanical that features the similar Sellita SW200 movement, carbon body and retails for $1’150 USD (~ 1’500 AUD)
- Definite value for money but is not a dive watch and doesn’t offer a multitude of colours
- The Oris Chronoris Date features a similar case design, a base Sellita SW200-1 movement, and a 120-click ratcheting inner timing bezel. It is smaller in size with 39mm diameter, is encased in stainless steel and features only 100m water resistance. It retails for 2’500 AUD
- One of the best value for money offerings is the Formex Essence Leggera that features the COSC-certified Sellita SW200-1 inside a forged carbon body and retails for $1’880 USD (~2’400 AUD).
- It is, however, not a professional dive watch and is only 100m water-resistant
- Breitling’s 2017 Colt Skyracer used their Breitlight carbon composite case. It was powered by the SuperQuartz cal. 74, and retailed for $2’000 USD (~2’700 AUD)
- The Aquadive Bathyscaphe 300 is based on its 1970s Time-Depth Model 50 and features a design language similar to the Doxa. It features the same ETA 2824-2 movement (without COSC-certification) but a higher 3000m water resistance. It comes inside a DLC-coated 316L steel case but is suited only for those with larger wrist owing to the dimensions of 47 x 20mm. It retails for 2’990 USD (~3’900 AUD)
- Almost similarly priced to Doxa is the TAG Heuer Aquaracer Bamford Limited Edition diver that features the similar Sellita SW 200-1 base movement — no COSC-certification — with the same 300m water resistance and retails for a very similar $5’650 AUD
- It is not encased inside a carbon body but features a non-steel grade 2 titanium case and bezel
- The TAG Heuer Aquaracer Carbon from 2018 features a similar body to the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC Caribbean, and even features the same ETA 2824-2 base movement but again with no COSC-certification. I have tried these on in person and they wear really well on my 16cm wrist. There is a certain rugged, military handsomeness to these as well. They come in three different colour variants and retail for $5’950 AUD
- The Favre-Leuba Raider Harpoon features a cushion outer-shaped (and circular inner) dark sandblasted PVD steel case measuring a larger 46mm x 16.5mm. It makes use of a helium escape valve and has increased 500m water resistance. It retails for about 4’450 CHF to 4’750 CHF (~6’200 to 6’750 AUD)
- The Oris Williams Chronograph C.F.C. is again decked out in carbon and retails for $6’250 AUD. Granted it’s a completely different kind of a watch, but it also uses an outsourced ETA movement (7750) as its base
- Zodiac’s history of cushion-shaped watches also goes back to the 1960s/70s, meeting the genesis of Doxa’s dive watches. The modern-day Zodiac Sea Dragon Automatic features a similar design language, the calibre STP 1-11 which is again a clone of the ETA 2824-2, a 39 x 39 x 12.50mm case and 100m water-resistance. These also come in colourful variants, and retail for 1’095 USD (~1’400 AUD). These are not dive watches though and come in a steel case, not carbon fibre or forged carbon. Zodiac does offer purpose-built divers, like the Super Sea Wolf 68 with the STP 3-13 movement and larger than Doxa 45 x 50 x 16mm case. These retail for 1’595 USD (~2’000 AUD)
- Carl F. Bucherer Patravi ScubaTec Black, one of my favourite divers ever, doesn’t come in a forged carbon case but instead in a similar aesthetic black DLC-coated titanium case and bezel. It features the exact same COSC-certified ETA 2824-2 movement though and retails for a higher 6’400 Euro (~10’000 AUD)
- TAG Heuer Monaco Chronograph Forged Carbon Bamford Edition from 2018 was one of the best executions I have seen of the Monaco to date (barring my personal 50th anniversary LE with green Cotes de Geneve dial). But at $8’100 USD (~10’400 AUD), it came at a premium above their regular Monacos. And so does Doxa. There’s nothing wrong with that now, is there?
- Panerai’s iconic Luminor, this time sexily blacked-out in the form of the Marina Carbotech PAM 1661 retails for $18’500 AUD. It does use a different type of combination, which is thin sheets of carbon fibre and PEEK (Polyether Ether Ketone)
- The beautiful Girard Perregaux Laureato Absolute Rock ref. GP03300-1058 that we reviewed here retails for $16’700 USD (21’500 AUD)
- Zenith Defy Classic Carbon ref. 10.9001.670/80.M9000 retails for $28’800 AUD
- No review of a carbon watch can be complete without mentioning the 1990s pioneers of the material, AP and RM. Modern-day examples from these two brands, the Richard Mille RM 33-02 and Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Forged Carbon ref.15706AU.OO.A002CA.01 are priced nowhere on the same planet as Doxa and other achievable timepieces (though RM uses its own specific type of carbon composite, called North Thin Ply Technology).
In A Nutshell aka Why We Like It
Now that we have gone into the comparisons, here’s the combination of the following features that elevate the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC into a class of its own:
- Continues the legacy some 50-odd years after its inception thanks to the wearable and memorable 42.5mm cushion-shaped case that forms for an excellent conversation starter (based on our limited time and interactions wearing the watch)
- The forged carbon with its camouflage vibe is not plasticky or cheap looking, thereby not acting as a gimmicky material used to replace steel. It is very light weight and has a nice marble-like texture that reminds me of the sexy 2018 TAG Heuer Monaco Bamford LE
- Impressive 300m water resistance and the presence of a pressure-resistant titanium casing to protect the movement and a screw-down crown for that extra peace of mind
- The use of the patented rotating bezel that allows divers to calculate and monitor no-decompression dive times based on the official US Navy dive tables
- An anti-reflective treated domed sapphire crystal that evokes the charm of the vintage plexiglass
- An array of colourful dials that are also highly legible
That’s All Folks!
There are lots of watches that either use the same material or feature a similar aesthetic or similar specifications, but none combine them like the Doxa offering.
And the watches listed above are all great in their respective genres, but the point I am trying to painstakingly make here 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.
To find out more about the new Doxa SUB 300 carbon COSC 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.