For those of you who have read my Deepstar 2020 review you will know that I really didn’t want the watch. As much as I thought it was a beautiful timepiece I just felt that from the specifications it would be too big and long for my skinny wrist. You would also know how surprised I was when I did get one and how well it wears and how wrong I was. Well, we are kind of retreading the same steps with the bracelet.
When Aquastar announced the Beads of Rice bracelet for the Deepstar my first reaction was: Oh dear, what is it with BORs, every man and his dog issues one with their watch. What the heck happened to innovation in design and trying something different? The Deepstar BOR just looked like every other BOR, actually worse, because it used male endpieces. I didn’t want one. I have bought several bracelets for my Deepstar and I’m happy with the different looks. BOR with faux BOR endpieces? Nope, not for me.
I was talking to Rick Marei one day and he said, I’ll send you a bracelet. I said I didn’t want one because I just didn’t think it looked that good. I asked: why BOR, why not flat endpieces etc? Rick told me about how much work went into the design and prototyping of the bracelet and how because of the longer lugs on the Deepstar, he didn’t like how the flat endpiece looked so he went with the tried and tested faux end pieces. He said he was going to send one anyway, whether I wanted it or not. And he did.
Now if you are like me and think that nice watch boxes and nice stuff is all part of the experience of buying a watch then you will be disappointed with the Deepstar BOR packaging. It came in a vacuum sealed plastic bag. That’s it. I was a bit surprised and disappointed. I expected it to come in a thin Aquastar turquoise box with some spare springbars. Heck even the $30 bracelets I buy off Amazon come in a box, with springbars and even a small springbar tool. Yes, I know the argument is: hey who cares about boxes, they get tossed, it’s the bracelet I’m interested in. Totally agree, but do you want to be like everyone else or do you want to exude class and go the extra mile?
OK so what is the bracelet like? On first look, it seems like just about every other BOR I have ever owned. It looks like a BOR bracelet. 22mm lug width tapering to 20mm at the clasp. Solid endpieces, polished separate beads and brushed outer edges. The sides of the bracelet are polished. The links are screwed, there are 6 removable links and there is a ‘standard’ in-clasp diver’s extension. But, take a closer look and there are differences.
The first thing that is noticeable is that the endpieces are attached to the bracelet. Most other BOR bracelets use the springbars to attach the endpieces to the bracelet. Not the case with the Deepstar BOR. The endpieces are already permanently attached with pins. The next thing to notice is that the endpieces have male fingers on them instead of female holes as in just about every other BOR endpiece.
The potential ‘problem’ with the male endpiece design is that they can effectively increase the lug to lug length of a watch and this was a major concern for me on what is already a very long watch (almost 51mm lug to lug). However, with the Deepstar BOR the increase in length is minimal because of how the endpieces curve and you can see from the wristshot on my skinny 6.75 inch wrist the watch doesn’t do the dreaded sides of wrist overhang.
The distinct advantage with male endpieces is that that you get the whole endpiece as part of the watch. Look at the image below which shows the holes in the DOXA SUB endpieces. Not a great look in my opinion.
There is a whole other discussion to be had on how to design a BOR endpiece to give it the best look: male or female, size and shape of holes / fingers, flat or faux BOR etc, but that’s for another day. After talking with Rick and now seeing the bracelet, I understand why he went for the faux BOR endpieces and not flat. And one of those reasons you can’t see is that to do a flat endpiece right you need to continue and match the case brushing into the endpiece which adds more steps to the process and increases costs.
A closer look at the beads on the bracelet shows that they are not the usual rounded beads but are actually a triangular profile which means they do catch the light differently and show a subtle difference in how they look compared to ‘normal’ BOR beads.
The clasp is a standard fliplock design with the Aquastar logo on the polished locking bar. It has 4 sizing holes which give around ½ centimeter / ¼ inch adjustment. Note although there are 4 holes only 3 are usable due to how the diver’s extension is located inside the clasp body.
There is no doubt that the bracelet is a quality piece and now that I have it and have worn the watch with it on for over a week, I can honestly say that it adds that little je ne sais quoi to the watch. The Deepstar is already an iconic watch. One that you just will not see out and about because of the rarity of both the vintage and modern versions. The BOR bracelet kicks it up a notch. Now being back in an office work environment, it has surprised me how often people have asked what watch I am wearing? The big eye Deepstar is so unique and eyecatching. It feels good to wear a watch very few other people have. Yes, I’m a watch snob!!!!
Are there things I would change? The bracelet, nothing really. Maybe it would have been better to brush the sides of the bracelet to match the case, but that can be easily done with either 600 grit sandpaper or a green washing / scrubbing pad. Easy job, 5 minutes work, and I may do it.
What I would change is the packaging. Up the game and make it look like you didn’t buy the bracelet off some bloke on ebay. It’s a classy Aquastar bracelet, make it feel like that is what you are getting….AND…. please include some springbars and even a springbar tool because …well maybe I should explain:
The rationale behind not adding springbars goes like this. Don’t need to as people will remove the Tropic strap that came with the Deepstar and use those springbars. And that’s what I did, except I couldn’t get them to fit. I scratched the hell out of the watch lugs. I grunted, groaned, cursed, stabbed myself in the finger and came close to tossing the whole thing in the bin. In the end I had to use other springbars I had. How many people have other springbars for a 22mm lug? I have literally hundreds of springbars collected over 25 years of collecting and fixing and screwing around with watches and I don’t have correctly fitting springbars for this bracelet. The ones I found that fit don’t allow the endpieces to locate correctly. They move and leave a gap as shown in the image.
So why couldn’t I get the springbars from the Tropic to fit? Because I was unable to compress both sides enough to allow the springbar to slide down into the lug. The Tropic strap is flexible enough that one end of the springbar will locate in one hole and the compression of the two springbar ends will allow it to slide down. However, with the bracelet, that can’t happen and so the springbar will not compress enough at both sides.
I don’t know what length my Tropic springbars are. I have a non final production version Deepstar. Because my watch was a preproduction / review model who the heck knows what springbars ended up with it by the time it got to me. I don’t have my calipers with me. Maybe they were slightly oversized. In the end I have bars that fit and the bracelet is on and I wedged 2 small pieces of plastic in the gap between the endpiece and case which forced the endpiece to lock in place correctly. The result is the bracelet looks fantastic and wears perfectly and I have antibiotic cream in the hole in my finger. All is good.
At the end of the day, once again, I was very pleasantly surprised about just how anything Deepstar turned out. The bracelet really is an enhancement to the watch. It is subtly different to other BORs and how it flows into the polished bezel works well to enhance the overall look of the watch. It wasn’t something I was expecting. I honestly thought I’d put it on, go: “nope, nopety, nope” and take it off again. I was wrong. It’s on to stay, well until I get proper springbars!
UPDATE: I was able to obtain the correct size springbars. They installed easily and locked the endpieces perfectly into place.
The bracelet is available for $189 here : https://aquastar.ch/product/stainless-steel-bor-bracelet/