Aquastar is a brand that has a certain mystique among knowledgeable vintage watch collectors and has an interesting history.
It was founded in 1962 by Frédéric Robert, a mathematician, diver, sailor, and watchmaker. He took control of the brand JeanRichard from his father and changed the name to Aquastar. It was to reflect his plan to create professional dive watches and instruments, eventually earning significant credibility due to the multiple patents they obtained for them. Advertisements for the brand at the time claimed: “You might call us the underwater watch company.” However, because of this niche, Aquastar watches were not available through normal retail distribution but only through professional diving equipment warehouses, likely explaining its modest commercial success.
The Aquastar Deepstar was first introduced in 1965-66. It was 100 meters water-resistant and furnished with a bezel with two scales. The inner bezel was used for timing dives, the outer was a successive/multiple dive non-decompression table calculator. This combination of diving tools and a chronograph, along with the usual running seconds hand at 9 o’clock and the “big eye” 30-minute stopwatch sub counter at 3, made the Deepstar both out of the box and ahead of its time. Vintage versions came equipped with a hand-wound Valjoux 23 column wheel movement.
The rebirth of the Aquastar brand includes the new procurers obtaining all of the past brand’s old stock, tooling, spare parts as well as all of the original blueprints and documentation.
The 2020 Aquastar Deepstar Re-Edition being reviewed here is the blue dial version, known as “Blue Ray.” Besides the dial color (original Deepstars dials were offered in gray and purple of all colors), it incorporates most of the components of the vintage model. Case and lug shape, finishing, dial, chronograph design, and of course the patented dual bezel scales are all preserved. The diameter has grown from 38 mm vintage to 40.5 mm for the re-edition. Height/thickness has also increased to 15 mm, a thick boy at 17 mm with modern updated sapphire crystal. Lug width measures 22 mm. To say it has wrist presence is an understatement. Unfortunately for thin wristed individuals like myself (I have a 6.75″ wrist for photo comparison purposes), the lug to lug width is an almost unbearable 51.2 mm. That being said, someone who told me he’s “not a watch guy” noticed and commented on it to me while I wore it in the wild.
The Aquastar uses a 4Hz, 28-jewel Swiss-made La Joux Perret caliber, column-wheel equipped mechanical chronograph movement. Power reserve clocks in at a robust 55 hours. The solid caseback is almost identical to the vintage models and although you can’t see it, there is an Aquastar decorated and skeletonized rotor inside, plus there are Geneva stripes and blued screws. The watch weighs a sizable 125 grams on the tropic rubber strap.
The watch is shipped with a set of two straps, a dial matching color genuine original Tropic rubber strap (complete with strong vanilla smell) with signed Aquastar buckle. The other is a seatbelt NATO strap. A stainless steel beads of rice (BOR) bracelet with fitted end links is being advertised by the brand as coming soon.
I must admit I’ve always wanted a vintage Aquastar Deepstar and have watched them quadruple in market value in less than 10 years. I’ve attempted to scratch my itch with a combination of a vintage Aquastar 63 and a Dugena Deepstar prior to the re-edition release, but it’s no Aquastar Deepstar. Here’s a chance to own one for a lot less than its vintage counterpart, if you have 7+ inch wrists that is.
The retail price of the Aquastar 2020 Deepstar Blue Ray is $3,590 and it’s also offered with gray or black dials, plus a new green dial variant that’s still available at pre-order pricing at the time this article was published.
Learn more at Aquastar.
Aquastar 2020 Deepstar Re-Edition Blue Ray
Case Diameter: 40.5 mm
Case Thickness: 17 mm
Lug-to-Lug: 51.2 mm
Lug Width: 22 mm
Total Weight: 125 grams
Retail Price: $3,590