Review: The DOXA Sub 300, A Return To Form

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We brought you news of a new Sub 300 from Doxa a few months back, a regular production variant of the once limited edition reissue from 2017. The introduction caused some consternation among the LE owners, but the consensus seemed to welcome the full time addition of such an important watch to the brand’s line up. This is the watch that put Doxa on the map, afterall. The move comes thanks to new leadership within Doxa who saw fit to bring back the most recognizable face of the brand, a welcome if not entirely shocking decision. 

In the late ‘70s, Porsche introduced the 928, a car that was meant to replace the 911, as that platform had clearly hit its limits (/s). The 928 moved the engine from the rear, to the front, gained a few cylinders and even made the switch from air-cooling to water cooling (about 20 years before the 996 would bring it to the 911 family). What’s any of this got to do with Doxa? Well, the 928 never did replace the 911, obviously, and today the 911 defines the Porsche brand from a spiritual standpoint more than any other car, for any other brand. In recent years, Doxa has made a few of their own 928s. While some are fine watches, none bring the clarity of voice to the brand that the Sub 300 does. It is their north star, and its presence as a regular production model makes a great deal of sense. None of this to downplay the frustration of the LE owners out there, of course.

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$2450

Review: The DOXA Sub 300, A Return To Form

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
ETA 2824-2 COSC
Dial
Silver, Navy, Orange, Teal, Yellow, Black
Lume
SuperLuminova
Lens
Domed Sapphire
Strap
Rubber, Steel BoR
Water Resistance
300M
Dimensions
42.5x45mm
Thickness
13.4mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw Down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$2450

The Sub 300 of Old

Why all the fuss over this admittedly strange looking dive watch? The Sub 300 made a name for itself thanks to widespread adoption among recreational divers looking for a capable tool that provided modern solutions. For its time, the Doxa Sub was quite modern. Options from Rolex and Blancpain were nearly a decade old by the time Doxa released their own Sub, and the sleek case, bright orange dial, and beads of rice bracelet all offered a fresh look from the established norms. Today, these are the very features that dated the design, and why we find it so delightfully funky in tone compared to the more austere Submariner and Fifty-Fathoms. 

An original Sub 300. Credit: Analog Shift

Doxa gained plenty of street ‘cred thanks to Jacques-Yves Cousteau wearing and even endorsing the watch by placing his brand, US Divers’, logo on the dial. High praise indeed from the man behind the aqua-lung and in turn responsible for evangelizing recreational and professional diving to its success. 

The Sub 300 featured a broad and flat tonneau style case that was meant to create more of a streamlined connection with the wrist, being less susceptible to catching on any underwater obstacles and providing some protection for the crown as well. The thick cut notches on the bezel made manipulating with gloves possible, and most prominently, a bright orange dial for high visibility and contrast underwater. Another unique feature is the oversized minute hand which dominated the comparatively small hour hand to place priority on the elapsed minutes during a dive. This was complemented by the no-decompression scale built into the bezel, with the depth on the outer track and the minutes along the inner ring. This allowed for a quick reference useful for casual diving, at a glance you can line up the depth you plan on diving to, say 30 meters, and see that you can safely spend 25 minutes at that depth before needing to make decompression stops. The deeper you go, the less time you’re afforded before needing to decompress. 

An Aqua-Lung ad with Doxa insert.

All of this added up to a dive watch that was unique in its appearance as well as its function set. Doxa employed the form follows function rule, and as we’ve seen before, that can have its own way of producing something visually compelling. Such is the case with the Sub 300, which has quickly captured the hearts of new collectors since being reintroduced in the form of a limited edition in 2017.

The New Sub 300

Doxa picked up where the Sub 300 left off with the LE release of 2017. The watch was a near facsimile of the original, which worked surprisingly well today even if the look is pure ‘60s. A comfortable watch transcends the era of its production, so it’s no surprise that the new 300 is as easy wearing as ever. The LE was produced in silver, black, and orange with each color getting 300 units produced. They sold out in short order and as a result, there remained a Sub 300 sized hole in the Doxa collection. 

Earlier this year, Doxa revealed a regular production variant of the Sub 300, with a (very) slightly revised dial, new colors and strap options, and no production limits. The changes bring some freshness to the Sub 300, not that it really needed any, but in addition to the silver, black, and orange dials we got a navy blue (Carribean), yellow (Divingstar), and teal (Aquamarine). The watch takes surprisingly well to the new colors, which we’ve seen make appearances across much of the Doxa range at this point. 

The new Sub 300 sits within a broad collection of dive watches from Doxa, and it’s worth clarifying some of the finer details as the naming can get confusing. The Sub 300T Conquistador looks quite similar to the Sub 300, set apart by Ft markings on the bezel (rather than meters), the “T” appearing on the dial, and for the eagle eyed, the lack of a lume dot at edge of the date aperture. The T model is a more robust Sub, with a 1200 meter depth rating. The Sub 300 is rated to 300 meters, but you get a thinner case as a result. A welcome trade off for the vast majority of us.

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Case & Dial

The case is a defining feature of the Sub 300. It’s broad and flat across its disc like shape, tapering down to the wrist rather than sitting atop of it. You can feel the design at work in regular wear, and the visual impact of the case is almost jarring at first. This is due to the case to dial ratio, as the case measures 42.5mm in diameter, but the dial itself is a mere 27.3mm in diameter. There’s a lot of case, and not a lot of dial, which takes some adjusting to, but it does add to the charm of the watch overall. 

Another feature that requires some adjustment on the viewers part is the size of the hour hand in relation to the minute hand. It appears almost as an afterthought, in comparison to most dive watches we see, which feature short but wide hour hands against tall and thin minute hands. Here, the minute hand is both wider and taller than the hour hand, so your brain (my brain, at least) needed a quick orientation with each glance. 

The dial places the brand and model labelings at opposite ends, as you’d expect, but instead of appearing at 12 and 6 o’clock, they appear at 10 and 4 o’clock respectively. The fonts used for these labels have been thickened a bit from the LE a few years ago, giving it a more modern presence, for better or worse. These all appear against a radiant sunburst texture applied to the dial, and read against black hour markers with strips of Super-LumiNova running down their center.

On The Wrist

The Sub 300 wears a bit differently than your average dive watch. The case dimensions create an oval footprint that adheres to the wrist in profile, looking rather svelte in the process. The case wall is a mere 3.2mm thick, the rest happens well inside of that, meaning the underside tucks in neatly, and the bezel sits well higher than the termination point of the case. The overall thickness is 13.4mm, with much of that happening in the bezel and domed crystal. The rest just fades away under the fold of the case, so wear is quite practical if you can accept the overall shape of the case. 

Doxa is offering the Sub 300 on their beads of rice steel bracelet, which is quite excellent, as well as rubber option that is cut to fit. The rubber strap is affixed to a folding clasp with ratcheting dive suit extension that is very easy to use for on the fly adjustments. There is no taper to this strap, however. It’s 20mm between the lugs, and it’s 20mm at the clasp. That makes for a much meatier feeling clasp that you might prefer. It’s very large, and if you have a thin wrist, you will notice. Luckily, this is a watch that looks pretty fantastic on leather or nylon, but I’d recommend the beads of rice as a default starting point.

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Movement

Doxa is using a COSC certified ETA 2824-2 automatic movement in the Sub 300, meaning its 38 hours of reserve will provide you -4/+6 seconds of accuracy per day. We see fewer of these movements outside the Swatch realm these days and it adds a level of value here that is much needed considering the price. 

The 2824 is well understood and certainly a workhorse movement that we like seeing in tool watches like this. Whether or not it’s worth the premium that Doxa is charging remains up to you, but I think there’s certainly a case to be made for its inclusion here for the benefit of the COSC certification.

Price & Conclusions

The Doxa Sub 300 is priced from $2,450 and goes up to $2,490 on the steel beads of rice bracelet. A survey of other independent brands and their dive watches will likely yield options at better prices out there, more than a few come to mind, actually. While better value options do exist, few will have the heritage or swagger of the Doxa. If that means anything to you, the premium here is worth the price of admission. There are certainly faster cars out there than a 911, many of them cheaper, too, but if you want a 911, little else will suffice. Such is the allure of the Sub 300, once it’s under your skin it has a way of staying there. 

The Doxa Sub 300 is available for purchase directly from Doxa. Learn more here

Blake is a Wisconsin native who’s spent the past decade covering the people, products, and brands that make the watch world a little more interesting. Blake enjoys the practical elements that watches bring to everyday life, from modern Seikos to vintage Rolex. He is an avid writer and photographer with a penchant for classic cars, non-fiction literature, and home-built mechanical keyboards.
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