Review: Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph

There are three things that I look for in a properly reissued vintage dive watch; brand credibility, design accuracy and modern functionality. Considering those three traits, the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph has them in spades. Let’s start with brand credibility, shall we? Aquastar is a storied brand that can trace its roots back to 1962 when entrepreneurial diver and sailor Frédéric Robert founded the Swiss watch company. At its inception, Aquastar was a brand that specialized in making oceanic tools which included the likes of sub-aqueous compasses, depth gauges, thermometers and of course, professional grade dive watches. The word never really got out about Aquastar, and it was only those within the diving community that knew about the brand since their watches were solely limited to professional dive shops at the time. Aquastar went on to secure multiple patents and innovated the way that midcentury dive watches were made. Aquastar changed hands a couple of times between 1974 and 2018. First being acquired by the Eren Group where the brand saw their first commercial success across Europe and then followed by avid sailor and 3rd generation watchmaker Marc Seneit. It was in 2020 when Aquastar was acquired by the Synchron Group and Rick Marei, which marked the re-introduction of Aquastar dive watches to the masses.

There’s no better person to revive a dive watch brand than Rick Marei. He’s got the midas touch when it comes to reviving brands, ensuring that the watches are true to their original design and continuing their brand story. Just take a look at his impact on the Doxa brand with the re-release of the Doxa Sub 300. Equipped with old toolings, spare parts and blueprints passed onto Marei in the acquisition from Seneit, there’s no reason why his success wouldn’t continue with Aquastar.

To date, we’ve got three Aquastar watches from the Marei era. First, the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph that nailed the design from the original, which boasted a 41mm case, much larger than its 37mm predecessor. Their following release was with the Aquastar Deepstar II, where the brand returned to their smaller case design, but really displayed the foresight of Marei and company to create a watch that the brand would’ve made if they continued their trajectory in the 60’s and 70’s. That brings us to the latest release from Aquastar; the Deepstar 39mm Chronograph. The Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph has all the modern features one would want in a vintage reissue diver including the contemporary case size and updated movement. Let’s take a closer look at the Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph.


Review: Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph

316L Stainless Steel
La Joux Perret Mono-Compax Column Wheel Automatic Chronograph
Sunburst Gray
AR Triple Coated Sapphire Crystal
Gray Tropic
Water Resistance
200 Meters
39 x 49mm
Lug Width


I haven’t had any hands-on experience with the previous Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph, but everything that I’ve heard and read mentioned that the 41mm sizing wore considerably on the wrist. Under the direction of Marei, the Aquastar brand listened to the watch community and released the same Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph, but in a svelter 39mm case. The result is a Deepstar Chronograph that comes in a neater package that doesn’t mess with the dial layout and proportions. The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph also shrinks in the lug to lug department, sporting a 49mm length, much more manageable than the 50.5mm lug to lug from the original Deepstar Chronograph. The updated case proportions make for a tighter, sleeker and more streamlined wearing watch.

Now you might be wondering, what about the thickness? The specs according to Aquastar is that the Deepstar measures 14.8mm in thickness, but when you factor in the bottom of the caseback and the top of the domed crystal, the Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph comes in closer to 17mm. Yes I know, that’s pretty substantial, but trust me when I say, the thickness is just in the numbers here. The digital calipers show that the case measures closer to 11.5mm if you exclude the crystal and the protruding caseback. In hand and on wrist, and when you include the smaller case size and shorter lug to lug, the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph wears and feels slimmer than the numbers imply. More specifics on the wearability of the Deepstar below.

Considering the case proportions, the Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph feels proper. Personally, I don’t see how the bigger 41mm variant would wear better than this updated model. The larger sizing would just magnify the thickness, and I’m almost positive the longer lug to lug would cause some overhang on my 6.25” wrist. That said, it is BDWS (Big Dive Watch Season), and if you’re also on the larger wristed size, then the 41mm Deepstar Chronograph might be the move.

The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph 316L stainless steel case is fully brushed from the top to the flanks of the case. The case finishing retains the toolish nature of the diver but balances out the more dynamically finished features of the watch. The case is edgy in the way it sharply transitions to the different areas of the case. The lugs are short and slightly curved as the case extends towards the strap, which is another case feature that helps the watch wear slimmer on wrist.

The screwdown crown is decently sized and is surrounded with thick ridges for easy gripping. The pushers are traditionally located at two and four o’clock, framing the robust crown. I’m keen on the pusher design here as they don’t protrude too far out as in some chronographs and stay somewhat flushed against the case. The pushers offer good tactile feedback with the reset pusher requiring a bit more pressure to activate the reset of the chronograph. I mentioned modern functionality above and we see that with the 200 meter water resistance rating within the case and pushers. For those who find themselves adventuring to the deeper depths of the ocean, or just casually kick around near the shoreline, you can get the vintage look with the “no worry” wearability of a modern made watch.


The bezel comes in a polished finishing and contrasts with the brushed case. The bezel is bidirectional and has decent feedback both ways. I own the 37mm Aquastar Deepstar II and the bezel action just feels better with this model. There’s more resistance and the clicks are more pronounced. Now to the Aquastar owners, how many of you can say they know what all the numbers mean on the bezel? I’ll be honest, I vaguely understood what they meant, but let’s unpack the meaning of the innovative Aquastar split scale bezel.

The split bezel is based on the French Navy Diving Table. The bezel has two functions. The first function is the ability to time how long you’re at depth, as well as using the inner scale to configure the depth needed to make a decompression stop. I’m not a diver, although I do aspire to get into the sport one day, but this function is assuming (also a necessity) that depth and time of the dive is calculated prior to initiating the dive. Rotate the zero marker on the bezel to the minute hand and you’re good to go for your first dive.

The first hypothetical dive is done, but it’s going to be a long day of hypothetical dives. The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph proves useful here as the second function and the outer scale of the bezel allows you to calculate the amount of residual nitrogen in your body and how long you need to stay topside before jumping back in. Again, using the dive table for reference and post first dive, you would align the corresponding nitrogen level number (using your depth and time from your first dive) from said dive table to the hour hand. From here, you’re able to use the outer scale to read the decreasing amount of nitrogen levels in your body and the time of your next dive. A residual nitrogen reading of anything below 1.4 clears you for the successive dive. Once the hour hand reaches the “Normal” territory of the bezel, you’re able to perform the next dive as a non-repetitive dive. Make sense? If not, then refer to the Aquastar’s bezel instructional video as they’ve done a thorough job of breaking down their bezel functionality.


The personality of the Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph is all in the dial. There are various qualities that pull your gaze into different directions that makes this a fun watch to look at every time you glance down to check the time. The sunburst gray dial pairs with the polished bezel and contrasts from the brushed steel case. It’s a dynamic dial. In low light, it’s a stealthy charcoal gray. But in better lighting, the sunburst dial really pops.

The large trapezoidal markers demarcate 12 and 6 o’clock. They’re polished on the outer edge and sandwich the lume portion of the marker. A partial trapezoidal marker marks 9 o’clock and adjacent is a distinct floating double-arrow seconds hand. The circular hour plots that take up their own space closer to the center of the dial are odd to look at first, but as the hour hand passes each of those markers, it makes sense why they’re there as they assist with legibility of the hour. At 3 o’clock, is the silvery 30 minute counter subdial for the chronograph function. Filling in the rest of the negative spaces of the dial is the Aquastar branding and logo. Despite the many things going on in the dial, it’s visually balanced and aesthetically appealing. And as mentioned above, the smaller case doesn’t disrupt the layout of the dial. Bonus points there.



Responsible for powering the timekeeping and chronograph feature of the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph is the La Joux Perret Mono-compax column wheel movement. During my time with the Aquastar, the watch displayed razor sharp accuracy, keeping time to within +5 seconds over the course of several days. The LJP automatic movement is equipped with 55 hours of power reserve and although you can’t see it due to a solid caseback, the movement itself is adorned with decorated bridges and a signed rotor with the signature turquoise blue Aquastar logo. The movement itself comes in at approximately 7.90mm thick which is slightly broader than the 5.85mm thick Valjoux 23 used in the original Deepstar from the 60s, and with the additional bulk comes an updated automatic movement as opposed to a manual wind movement and improvement in reliability and power reserve.


The Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph in for my review came in on a 21mm medium gray tropic rubber strap. The tropic strap is soft to touch, flexible and doesn’t require any break in period to feel right at home on the wrist. The design is a traditional tropic strap with diamond shaped vents and tapers from 21mm at the lugs to 16mm at the clasp. I love a good taper on any strap or bracelet and this absolutely fits the vintage vibe of the Aquastar Deepstar. The strap comes with signed steel hardwear, an angled pin and the Aquastar logo embossed on the underside of the strap.



The thickness of the Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph was my main concern the moment I put the watch on, but only after a couple hours, the watch really settled in and didn’t feel bulky in any way shape or form. On my 6.25” wrist, the lugs don’t overhang and the case frames nicely on wrist when looking at it from top center. The weight of the case head gives the Aquastar some presence and tightening the tropic strap to avoid the watch feeling too top heavy isn’t an issue because of how comfortable the strap is. I’ve worn this watch solely with a t-shirt and shorts during my time with it (It’s Summer 2022 to those reading from the future) and it checks all the boxes of a proper summer time dive watch.

The H-shaped case formed by the lugs sets up the Aquastar Deepstar to work with almost any strap combination. The one thing to note is that if the thickness is already a point of concern, then a NATO might not be the best strap choice, as the added thickness from the strap combined with caseback will lift the watch higher off your wrist. A two piece strap or a bracelet option keeps the case head as close to the wrist as possible. If you’re not like Zach Kazan, and are NATO inclined, then I suggest you do a little strap surgery and cut the under keeper strap of the NATO for a better fit.

Final Thoughts 

The Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph is not your traditional looking dive chronograph. Between the asymmetry of the subdial, quirky hour markers and the floating seconds hand, the dial is indeed a funky one. I’ve waxed poetic on my love for black dial watches, but I can see how this sunburst gray dial would work into my collection. It’s playful but subtle enough to where I could wear this watch for longer stretches of time.


I’m not a chronograph guy, but I did appreciate having the chronograph feature handy. It kept me amused during those fleeting moments of doing nothing throughout the day. Although I didn’t properly get the watch wet, it’s cool to know that the pushers would still work when the watch is submerged. I’ve also learned about my growing appreciation for how comfortable single pass straps are as opposed to the traditional NATO based on what felt right with the Deepstar.

There is a certain charm and soulfulness about the Aquastar Deepstar. When I put this one on, I get the very same feeling when I throw on a Doxa. Not in a sense of how the watches look aesthetically, but more so the allure of the brand name. I don’t know if it’s the rich brand history, strong connection with exploration or the distinct look of their watches, but they’ve got me hooked. I’m curious to see where Rick Marei takes the Aquastar brand and the future iterations that are in store. A re-issue Benthos, maybe? Or how about a diver with a GMT function (One can dream)? All I know for certain, is that the Aquastar is in good hands.

Editor’s Note: Production of the Aquastar Deepstar 39mm Chronograph is limited to 100 pieces in each dial variation (Sunburst Gray, Vintage Black & Blue Ray) annually.  

Images from this post:
Related Reviews
Thomas is a budding writer and an avid photographer by way of San Diego, California. From his local surf break to mountain peaks and occasionally traveling to destinations off the beaten path, he is always searching for his next adventure, with a watch on wrist, and a camera in hand. Thomas is a watch enthusiast through and through; having a strong passion for their breadth of design, historical connection, and the stories that lie within each timepiece.