You all know the story about a burglar masquerading as a little girl who breaks into a bear’s house, busts up the furniture, trashes the bedroom and eats their breakfast. She was called Goldilocks. She scoffed down Papa bear’s porridge but it was too hot, mama bear’s was too cold, but baby bear’s was just right. The name Goldilocks is now part of our general language and we use to describe something that is just right. In astronomy, the Earth resides in the Goldilocks orbit around the sun. Further out or closer to the Sun then it is unlikely life would have begun here. For Aquastar, the Deepstar 2022 is the Goldilocks version of the watch. There is an interesting story behind it.
Back in 2020, Aquastar rose from the ashes with a bang. The man behind it was Rick Marei, who after almost 20 years bringing the Doxa SUB back from the grave embarked on what was possibly a much more daunting task: revive Aquastar and continue the legacy of its founder; Frédéric Robert.
Aquastar, one of the most innovative and forward thinking Swiss watch companies of the 1960s and early 1970s, had pretty much disappeared. Its catalog of patents and iconic watches and its overall horological heritage is something most watch companies could only dream about but outside of a few discerning collectors, all that had been lost in the mists of time. However, there was one watch which just wouldn’t lie down and fade away. It was often seen on the wrist of Jacques Cousteau’s aquanaut dive team and was highly sought after among dive watch collectors. It is the Deepstar. Instantly recognizable because of the “Big Eye” subdial at the 3 o’clock position.
As the saying goes: go big or go home, so when Rick decided it was time to restart Aquastar, although there were a number of iconic watches he could have used, there really was only one watch that could be classed as a showstopper. It was the Deepstar.
The Deepstar 2020 was released with three dial colors: Black, Blue and Grey. It was a limited edition of 300 each, 900 in total. At what was, in reality, a giveaway pre-order price of $2,790 for such a unique and high quality watch, it is probably no surprise that all the watches were gone in a very short time. The retail price of the watch was $3,590. It never made it to retail, the pre-order price was just too good an opportunity to miss and they sold out long before that was due to happen.
There was one other limited edition dial color made: The Greenwich. It has a beautiful sunburst green dial which is even more captivating than the sunburst blue dial. Sadly, Covid decimated the supply chain of the watch world and it was impossible to make more than 100 watches, so it remains a very limited run watch.
I did a full review of the Deepstar 2020 here, so I won’t say too much about it other than some people thought it was too big at a height of 17mm, a width of 41mm (without the crown), a lug to lug length of 51mm and 22mm lug width. And that was a justified criticism. We all aren’t like Popeye with massive 8 inch wrists and the Deepstar 2020 really was pushing the limits that someone like myself with a 6.75 inch wrist could wear. But having said that, especially on the Beards of Rice bracelet, the Deepstar 2020 is deceptively comfortable.
There was a very good reason for the size of the Deepstar 2020. The movement. The vintage Deepstar used the Valjoux 23 or 92 movement. It was a manual wind movement and is no longer made. Rather than go with a modern equivalent of the Valjoux which would mean utilizing a non Swiss calibre, Aquastar went with the La Joux-Perret automatic chronograph movement. The case had to be enlarged to accommodate it and it meant scaling everything up to keep the original proportions.
Some people considered it just too big, but Aquastar was listening.
Of course, Aquastar is no stranger to big cases. The vintage Benthos 500 was / is a watch that kicks ass and takes names in the wrist presence division. I did a review of it here.
Fast forward to 2021 and Aquastar released the Deepstar II. When I saw the initial prototype photos of the watch my brain refused to process the fact that it was a non chrono, 3 hand watch with the big eye at the 9 o’clock position. It really did take me a few moments to notice the design change and the fact that there were no pushers either side of the crown.
I did a full review of the Deepstar II here, so I won’t say too much about it other than some people thought it was too small at a height of 13.3mm, a width of 37mm (without the crown), a lug to lug length of 47mm and 19mm lug width. And that was a justified criticism. We all aren’t like Popeye with massive 8 inch wrists and the Deepstar II really was pushing the limits of how small a watch someone like that could wear.
However, for most people the Deepstar II wears spectacularly well. The case size is the same as that of the vintage Deepstar and a number of other vintage Aquastar and other manufacturers watches. It’s a put on and forget you are wearing it watch, except in the case of the blue dial version which just keeps calling out: look at this beautiful watch. The Deepstar II is not a limited edition watch. It is restricted to 300 released each year because of movement availability. The price of $1,590 and the fact that more dial colors will be added to the classic Black, Blue and Grey ones available ensures that the Deepstar II helps to cement the new Aquastar history. It has been said that in many ways the Deepstar II is a watch that could have been produced by Aquastar back in 1968 and that comes from Marc Jasinski who was Aquastar’s head of R&D in the early 1960s and designed the Deepstar’s Decompession bezel. Praise indeed.
And that brings us back to 2022 and Goldilocks. It was just a matter of time before Aquastar released the “just right” version of the Deepstar. The pre-order price is still the same at $2,790. The new version has a height of 17mm, is 39mm wide (without the crown), 49mm lug to lug and a 21mm lug width. The Aquastar designers were able to shave millimeters off the case and still retain a 200 Meter water depth rating but because the same LPJ movement and similar slightly domed sapphire crystal is being used, the overall height remains the same. But here is the thing to remember regarding the 17mm height. The domed crystal and beveled bezel make up around 4mm of that. Even though the height is 17mm, the center of gravity is still relatively low in the watch.
The Deepstar 2022 looks exactly the same as the 2020 and could be mistaken for it if seen in isolation. All the design elements are the same including the caseback, just slightly smaller.
|LENGTH (mm)||HEIGHT (mm)||LUG WIDTH (mm)||WEIGHT with bracelet
for 6.75 inch wrist (grams)
It was that decision to go with the LJP chronograph movement that really paid off. It is a column wheel escapement, mono-compax dial, chronograph that boasts 55 hours of power reserve, bi-directional winding and contains 28 jewels, running at 28,800 bph. Just like the original 2nd generation vintage Deepstar, the large dial gives a 30 minute count while the left ‘counter’ is a running seconds indicator.
Rather than reproduce information on the watch that I have covered in the Deepstar 2020 review, I think it is better to show a bunch of photos comparing the Deepstar 2022 with some contemporary watches. This should give a better indication of the size and design elements.
Deepstar 2022 and Omega Speedmaster
Deepstar 2022 and Rolex Submariner
Deepstar 2022 and Breitling Superocean. The Superocean is also a tall watch at 15mm but because of the relatively deep caseback and short lugs it doesn’t wear a well as the Deepstar 2020 or 2022, as it slides around on the wrist much more.
Deepstar 2022 and the Omega Seamaster. The Seamaster is my gold standard for one of the best wearing watches I have ever owned. 13mm thick and a very wide and flat caseback make it a total wrist hugger.
One of the reasons the Deepstar wears so well is because of the case shape and flat caseback. Note how the bottom of the caseback and end of the lugs are almost on the same plane.
This to me is what makes a watch wearable. So many watches have a thick caseback and they end up becoming a wobbling top unless you crank your strap or bracelet up tight. The Deepstar 2022 is a thick watch but it gets the bottom of the case design right.
This shot shows the difference in thickness between the 2020, 2022 and DS II.
Just like the Deepstar 2020, the watch initially comes on a Tropic rubber strap. A Beads of Rice bracelet will be available later. My watch came with one of the first BOR bracelets. I also got a grey Tropic strap and a grey NATO strap. I’m just not a strap guy but in the interests of watch science I removed the bracelet and tried the two straps. The following images show the straps and I can confirm that the ends of the Tropic are now rounded and look much better than the original squared ends.
The grey Tropic
The grey NATO
The bezel is the same bidirectional Decompression table one as on the previous editions of the watch. It turns easily but is tight with no lateral movement and reminds me of opening a safe.
Of course, everyone loves a lume shot and the Deepstars don’t disappoint.
All three dials have a sunburst effect. Very slight on the black dial, but it is the blue and grey dials that really show this effect off.
I’ve never owned a grey dial watch before, but now I can see why the grey dial Deepstar has proven to be a favorite. With the sunburst effect on the dial, depending on the light it can change from almost black to almost silver.
If I was asked: which is the best wearing Deepstar? I would have to say that the Deepstar II is the best wearing of all three versions, but that is probably not a surprise to anyone as it is smaller and lighter and thinner. However, it is not a Chrono. If you want the full flavor Deepstar then the new 39mm version is the one to get. It will be better wearing over a wider range of wrist sizes. The difference between it and the 2020 is really only a few mm and a few grams but that really makes a difference in the wearability of the watch.
Like the Deepstar II, the Deepstar 2022 39mm is also not a limited edition and I fully expect to see more dial variations in the future. A green Greenwich dial is a must but maybe a sunburst fire engine red or my own personal wish; a panda – white dial with black subdial. When you consider that the Deepstar watch is almost 60 years old and still turns heads, it shows just what a truly iconic design it is. I think we all hope we can be just as stunning when we hit that age..……