It was a little over a year ago that Aquastar returned from a long period of dormancy with the Deepstar Chronograph, a watch that immediately became a favorite among dive watch aficionados for its fidelity to the original Aquastar aesthetic. This is a brand that was never a household name, and the fact that it was brought back with a level of care and attention to detail that paid genuine tribute to a truly special time in dive history charmed a lot of folks in the community. Now, Aquastar is back with the inevitable sequel, the fittingly named Deepstar II. If last year’s chrono was appealing but maybe a little too big, too complicated, or too expensive, the Deepstar II will definitely be worth a look.
The Deepstar II has several obvious similarities to the Deepstar Chronograph from a design perspective. The things that have always made Aquastar distinctive are still present here: the squared off lugs and cushion style case, a “no decompression” bezel, large applied hour markers at the cardinal positions, and an oversized “big eye” subsidiary register, used on the Deepstar II to indicate running seconds (it was a minute totalizer on the chrono). The fact that there’s no new ground to speak of in the look of this watch feels very much intentional – there’s a funky language at work in the bones of Aquastar that’s intrinsic to the brand, and it would be truly strange for them to take a left turn into something more conventional.
What sets the Deepstar II apart from last year’s chronograph more than anything else (besides the lack of a complication) is the size. Whereas the chrono measured 40.5mm and wore large thanks to the nearly rectangular shape of the case, the Deepstar II comes in at 37mm and has a far more approachable wrist presence that could conceivably please a wider cross section of enthusiasts. It measures roughly 48mm from lug to lug, which is a span that many who trade in modern divers will be comfortable with.
Another point in this watch’s favor, although this might be a point of contention among some, is that the Deepstar II isn’t a watch that actually existed in the Aquastar catalog during the brand’s original run. As the brand puts it, the watch is the result of a thought experiment that imagines what an Aquastar diver would look like if the quartz crisis had never happened. While to my eye it still makes use of a design language that is rooted right in the 70s, it remains an impressive interpretation of what made Aquastar special. Rick Marei, the dive watch collector and enthusiast behind the Aquastar relaunch (as well as Tropic Rubber straps, ISOfrane, Synchron, etc.) consulted with Marc Jasinski, designer of the original Deepstar, on the project, so there is legitimate Aquastar heritage running through this one.
The Deepstar II runs on a Sellita SW-290 automatic movement with the date wheel removed (no phantom click). The water resistance is 200 meters, and pre-orders ship with both a leather and Tropic Rubber strap (a beads of rice style bracelet will also be sold separately). Three dial variants will appear at launch: Steel Grey, Vintage Black, and Blue Ray. The pre-order price is $1,490, and full retail is $1,890. Delivery is expected by December. Aquastar