Affordable Vintage: Doxa Sub 600T Sharkhunter

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When you say “DOXA” to a dive watch collector, they automatically think of the iconic tonneau cased, orange dialed diver with the decompression bezel immortalized by Clive Cussler’s adventure hero Dirk Pitt. Starting in 1967 and continuing to the present, this classic and uniquely styled diver epitomizes DOXA dive watches. Over the decades the DOXA Sub has gone through many iterations, some subtle and some not so, yet still retaining the styling cues that make it unique. However, in 1978 DOXA was acquired by the Aubry Freres Company, and during the early 1980’s they produced some radically different designs in addition to the classic tonneau divers. Now, I won’t go in to the whole DOXA Sub history here, but the Aubry story bears telling.

Screen Shot 2016-03-10 at 9.42.29 AMAubry Freres was founded in 1917, and later changed their name to CINY. In the early 1970’s they began to expand by acquiring other watch manufacturers. In 1972 they acquired Arthur Dorsaz et Cie which made Dogma watches, then in 1973 they absorbed the West End Watch Co, which enlarged their manufacturing and distribution capabilities. This larger group was known as CWD. Finally, in 1978 the CWD group acquired Ernest Borel, Aureole, and……you guessed it: DOXA. Aubry was now in the dive watch market, and they chose to make changes to the DOXA Sub line, significantly altering the case and bezel, as well as the dial. In addition, they expanded the range of divers to include the Sub 600T (reviewed here), Sub 750T and the Sub 1000T models.

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The DOXA Sub 600T line came in several different dial and bezel combinations with different names, but they all shared the same unique case which was now completely different from the original Subs. The monikers used for this case include, Divingstar, Searambler, Quartz Professional, and the famous Sharkhunter. The Sub 600T Sharkhunter reviewed here is my favorite of the lot, but they are all amazingly cool divers. The Sub 600T Sharkunter was introduced in the 1982 Aubry/DOXA catalog with the reference number G11 155.

DOXA_SUB_600T_SHARKHUNTER_6Since the case is the common denominator here, I’ll start with that. The solid stainless steel case is truly brilliant and makes this watch stand out from the crowd. It measures 39mm wide by 47mm long with 20mm lugs, and comes in with a fairly chunky 14mm thickness. The shape is a sort of hybrid drawing styling cues from a variety of sources, resulting in a truly unique design. In a world full of rehashed designs, this one is refreshing. It’s really blocky, with a flat top and sides that have a straight brushed finish, contrasted with sharp beveled edge transitions that are mirror polished.

The lugs are short and squared off, giving it a semi-hooded look. The signed crown is at 4 o’clock and is deeply recessed in a flared crown guard, and screws down for better water resistance. The use of sharp edges and highly contrasting finishes reminds me of the vintage Seiko “Grammar of Design” concepts used on their vintage Grand Seikos. The bezel is the same on all the models, with different inserts. The bezel is nice and thick, with a deeply grooved edge to provide excellent grip. The bezel rotates counterclockwise with 60 clicks, and operates very smoothly. My Sharkhunter has a matte black insert with bold silver countdown numbers and a lumed triangle at 12. Other models have silver countdown inserts and some have the famous decompression calculation inserts.

DOXA_SHARKHUNTER_3The dial on the Sharkhunter is matte black, with fantastic Tritium lume ‘shark tooth’ markers at 12, 6 and 9, and round markers at the other hours. At 3 is a simple, unadorned date window. When I acquired this watch, I did have the choice of some of the other models, but the ‘shark tooth’ dial immediately drew me to this one, and I absolutely love it. The dial is signed “DOXA, automatic” at 10 o’clock, and “SUB 600T, sharkhunter” at 4 o’clock. At the bottom edge of the dial on either side of the 6 o’clock marker is “Swiss T, < 25 mc”.

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The hands are the classic blocky DOXA Sub style in bright white with lumed centers, the big ol’ minute hand and puny hour hand. I’ll be honest, for a long time I did not like the DOXA hands, but they’ve grown on me and now I love ‘em. The second hand has a large square ‘lollipop’ lumed tip to compete the trio. This gorgeous dial/hands combo is protected by a flat mineral glass crystal. I like these types of crystals, but if it had a superdome acrylic, that would have really been the bomb. But to be honest, the flat mineral glass really does compliment the overall style design of the case. This watch is powered by the automatic DOXA caliber 5910 17 jewel movement, which I believe is an ETA 2783. It ticks along at 28800 beats per hour, with a power reserve of 44 hours and has a quickset date.

DOXA_SUB_600T_SHARKHUNTER_13The Sub 600T’s came supplied with bracelets, and the style varied with the different models. This Sharkhunter came with oyster style bracelet that has a flip lock deployant buckle with a divers extension. Other models came with the famous DOXA beads of rice style bracelet, which is my favorite style. My bracelet is a tad too big for me, and I couldn’t remove the extra links so I opted for the Tropic big hole strap shown in the pictures.

An interesting side note to the Aubry story is that they also owned Ernest Borel at the same time they owned DOXA. I’ve seen an example of an Ernest Borel Sub 200T Sharkhunter that has essentially the same ‘shark tooth’ dial and hands as my DOXA Sharkhunter, but housed in a more traditional ‘submariner style’ case with the crown at 3 o’clock. I’m not sure what other cross-overs that Aubry did during this time, but the Borel diver is a pretty cool piece of horological history and quite scarce as well.

DOXA_SHARKHUNTER_2These Aubry era DOXA Subs are generally quite difficult to find. I’m not sure of the production numbers, but they can’t have been too plentiful. Until recently these were truly rare to find in any condition. However, someone in Europe unearthed several NOS (new old stock) examples, and I was lucky enough to be able to acquire one with the help of a fellow collector. I’ve seen a few for sale on eBay and the various forums, but the prices vary widely from $1500 to $4000.

So if you’re keen for one, keep a sharp eye out because I suspect that even with the new ones appearing on the market, they are still scarce and highly desirable. And speaking of help, I wanted to thank the good folks at DOXA watches (@doxa_watches on Instagram) for providing some great information and history on my watch and the Aubry/DOXA era, as well as the vintage advertising images.

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Christoph (Instagram’s @vintagediver) is a long time collector and lover of all things vintage, starting with comic books when he was a kid (he still collects them). His passion for watches began in 1997 when he was gifted a family heirloom vintage Omega Genève by his step-father. That started him on the watch collecting path—buying and selling vintage watches of all sorts, with a special appreciation for vintage dive watches and Seiko.
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