Bringing back historical watches is a funny thing. Often, brands recreate something famous and iconic that both enthusiasts and non can relate to. After all the goal is typically to generate sales based on familiarity and nostalgia. Well, what if a brand were to recreate a watch that was originally only sold in specialty stores, was expensive at the time and is relatively unknown in the current market? Well, Triton did just that with Subphotique, a close recreation of a strange, but intriguing dive watch from 1963. And their goal? Well, it’s not to create a best seller or a household name, rather they’ve priced it to continue a legacy of exclusivity.
The original Triton was an oddball of a watch designed by Jean René Parmentier (1921-1998), a former colonel of the French Air Force and watchmaking enthusiast. As you can see in his original patent drawings, he was attempting to figure out better mechanisms for guaranteeing water tightness of the crown, thus developing interesting concepts with protected 12 o’clock crowns. These designs became the foundation of the Triton, which certainly stands out from the early divers with its unique case design and gorgeous bezel insert.
The Triton watch itself was made exclusively for La Spirotechnique, which later changed its name to one people are more familiar with, Aqua Lung, and was founded by Jacques Cousteau. It was a watch meant for professional and military divers, not hobbyists or the general public. It was a precision tool, and as such it was priced high at 682.5 francs, which put it above the Rolex Submariner. Because of these factors, the Triton is a watch that’s not on most people’s vintage radars today, mostly being pursued by cult dive and military watch enthusiasts. And because of their scarcity, demand a substantial price, such as one that went last year for $6,950.