Review: Doxa Sub 200

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Imagine yourself standing on a dock at night. There’s a wintery chill in the air — you’ve got a toasty navy peacoat on and a thick rag-wool hat keeping you warm. Some duck canvas pants and a solid pair of waterproof boots are keeping your lower half from going numb. You’re waiting for that ship to come into port, and have a hunch that it’s running late. To confirm your suspicion, you look down at your wrist, and read the time off of your trusty Doxa Sub 200. 

Even though I’m sitting at a desk in my temperature-controlled office, that’s the scenario in which I imagine this timeless, vintage-inspired dive watch from Doxa. Well, the black dial at least. If you’re more of an orange, yellow, or turquoise kind of person, then your hypothetical Doxa Sub 200 situation may have more cocktails on the beach, coconut trees, pristine clear water, and ninety degree temperatures than the situation above. Either way, if you’re looking into the Doxa Sub 200 as your next pick up, you’re in for a treat. 

Announced at Basel 2019, the Sub 200 is Doxa’s “entry-level” dive watch. Coming in at just under a grand on a bracelet, the Sub 200 makes an excellent case for those (like me) to look a little harder at Doxa. While I appreciate a good Sub 300T, they’ve just never spoke to me personally. It’s hard to not respect the brand with their strong pedigree in the world of professional diving, but nothing jumped out at me until the Sub 200. It boasts a very comfortable 42mm case, a stunning black dial topped by a gorgeous domed sapphire, and loads of vintage-inspired design that results in what I believe is one of the hottest watches in the sub-$1000 category at the moment. Let’s take a closer look.

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$990

Review: Doxa Sub 200

Case
316L Stainless Steel
Movement
ETA 2824-2
Dial
Black with cream accents
Lume
Super-Luminova on dial/bezel
Lens
Domed Sapphire w/ AR coating
Strap
Beads of Rice bracelet or FKM rubber strap
Water Resistance
200m
Dimensions
42 x 45mm
Thickness
14mm
Lug Width
19mm
Crown
Screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$990

Case

There’s a lot to like about the Sub 200’s 42mm stainless steel case. While the measurements imply that the case is on the bigger side, a comparatively short lug-to-lug distance of 45mm makes it wear very well on my 6.75” wrist. The standout feature of the case is the twisted lug design that gives off a heavy Omega vibe. They twist a bit more drastically than those made famous by the Speedmaster, but the resulting effect is the same. The polished bevel that runs the whole length of the watch curves down towards the bottom of the case and makes an excellent transitional surface between the top and side of the case. Although they look like they’re twisting, the lugs are actually very straight when viewed from the side.

Doxa opted for a slight chamfered cut on the bottom of the mid-case that diminishes any slab-sidedness of the watch. At 3 o’clock, there’s a screw-down crown that’s recessed ever-so-slightly, riding the edge between true crown guards and that vintage guard-less look. It’s decorated with an orange Doxa fish logo that adds a subtle touch of color to an otherwise mute watch.

When looking at the Sub 200 from the side, you’ll notice that there’s a lot going on in the case design that might not be immediately noticeable from above. It’s my favorite view of the watch. Up top, you have one of the most gorgeous, clear domed sapphires that I’ve encountered. It really does nail the look of an old acrylic crystal, with some pleasant distortion around the edges and all of the benefits that sapphire has to offer over acrylic. Next, you run into the ridged unidirectional bezel that has large, sharp grooves running around the outside.

Action on the bezel is firm, snappy, and satisfying. It’s one of the harder bezels to turn, but that really just ensures that you’re less likely to accidentally bump it out of alignment. The thick, cog-style teeth running around the outside make for an excellent tactile grip, whether you’re in wet or dry conditions. There’s a short vertical break that’s actually part of the bezel that visually separates the grooves from the mid case. The twisting bevel adds some welcomed shine in between the dive bezel and brushed mid case. Finally, you’ll notice the case back bubbling down beneath the case, which nestles nicely into your wrist during wear. The finishing level and detail is top-notch, with even and sharp transitions between finishes.

Dial + Hands

We at Worn & Wound don’t condone hunting sharks, but we are fans of a good matte black dial. Doxa has fun names for all of their dial colors, and the Sub 200 is available in 6 different options including Sharkhunter (black), Professional (orange), Searambler (silver), Carribean (deep blue), Aquamarine (…aqua blue, this one is pretty on-the-nose), and Divingstar (yellow). Of the bunch, I’m glad I got to check out the black dial. The other color options are definitely fun, but the black is my personal favorite.

Decoration on the dial is not excessive, but it’s done so well. There’s a white hashmark for each minute, a polished applied index for each hour, and a date display at 3. Each of the indices are filled with a cream-colored lume. Some may call “fauxtina” on it, but to me, it’s just another color. The proportions of the dial are spot-on, and I really love the serifed type used for the Doxa logo and the model name at 6. They even carried it over to the date wheel, which is a very nice touch, especially since it features the largest text on the watch. Around the outside of the dial, you’ll find a lumed bezel with matching cream-colored markings. Again, I love the typeface for the numbers. It’s very vintage looking, and I feel that it’s a big contribution to the overall look and feel of the watch.

Speaking of lume, I found it to be a bit lack-luster. It doesn’t last particularly long, and the application across the three lumed elements is uneven. The bezel lume is the dimmest, followed by the applied indices, and then finally the hand set as the brightest. It’s a bit of a disappointment, especially considering the rest of the watch is finished so well with a close eye on small details.

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The hands can be a little bit hard to read under some lighting conditions. Since they’re mirror finished, they tend to disappear against the black dial. The cream-colored lume helps them stand out a bit. It’s a minor quip, but to be fair, I can’t see a different color of hand working out any better than the silver. Although a matte white hand would be more legible, it wouldn’t do the Sub 200 any favors in the looks department. I do like the shape and style of the hands though. Both the hour and minute hands are rectangular and straight, terminating at a stout little point at the end. The hour hand features a little break in the middle, making it easy to differentiate from the minute hand. Out of the three, the seconds hand is my favorite (is it normal to pick a favorite hand on your watch?). It is razor-thin with a rectangular bar about 2/3 of the way down. It’s seen commonly on vintage divers of the era, and fits in perfectly with the rest of the design of the Sub 200.

Movement

Inside the Sub 200, you’ll find the ever-reliable ETA 2824-2 movement ticking away. It beats at 28,800bph, sending the seconds hand around the dial with a smooth sweep. It features hacking seconds so you can precisely set the time and the ability to hand-wind the watch to get it up and running after a period of rest. Doxa added some of their own decoration, however, it’s hidden behind the solid stainless steel case back. The movement also features a numerical date feature at the 3 o’clock position. Like the rest of the watch, the movement is made in Switzerland. It’s a reliable movement used across the industry by both entry and mid-level brands, and in the sub-$1k Sub 200, it makes a lot of sense.

Strap + Wearability

Non-standard lug sizes drive me a little crazy, and unfortunately the Doxa is guilty of that. Measuring in at 19mm, the lug distance is less than ideal if you find yourself wanting to change straps. Since the black, silver, and cream color way of the Sub 200 is so versatile, it’ll go well on a wide range of straps. It’s a bit of a bummer, but if you add the watch to your collection, picking up a few 19mm straps isn’t the end of the world. That being said, I don’t think it would affect the design of the watch if they were 1mm wider to accommodate a broader range of straps. The review unit I have on hand shipped on the Doxa signed beads of rice bracelet. 

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On the wrist, the BoR bracelet is very comfortable thanks to the high degree of articulation and small links. I’ve found this style of bracelet to be one of the most comfortable out there. In addition to wearing well, it looks great too. Popular in the 60s and 70s, the beads of rice suits the aesthetic of the Sub 200 quite well. While the watch would work just fine on an oyster style bracelet, the beads of rice really hammers home the vintage-inspired look.

Conclusion

Of the many watches I’ve come across in the past few years, the Doxa’s excellent case design and proportions stand out as one of my personal favorites. Saying something is the “best” is very hard, since different aspects of design appeal to different people. The huge variety in the world of watches is what makes it so fun, and something about the Sub 200 really just resonated with me upon wearing it for the first time. It strikes the right balance of vintage-inspired design and modern construction/materials that result in an excellent daily wearer, whether you’re underwater or on the surface.

While there are a few things that would make this watch damn near perfect (I’m lookin’ at you, 19mm lugs and uneven lume), the attention to detail (that typeface and case design) far outweigh the few shortcomings that the Sub 200 has. As an entry into the world of Doxa and their pedigreed professional divers, the Sub 200 might just be one of the nicest sub-$1000 divers available on the market today. Doxa

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.
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