Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review of Doxa SUB 1200T Professional Automatic Diver

Model # SUB 1200T Professional

Brand/Model:  Doxa SUB 1200T Professional
Movement:  Swiss automatic
Material:  stainless steel case and bracelet
Complications:  date display
Price:  MSRP:  $1,890 USD (special factory-direct Doxa pricing)




Plenty of photos follow the review.  Click on the pictures to enlarge.

 

When it comes to dive watches, few brands have the recognition that Doxa has.  It started in 1967 with their iconic SUB dive watch, followed two years later by the SUB 300T Conquistador, which was the first dive watch sold to the public equipped with a helium release valve.

In 2010, Doxa released the SUB 1200T Professional to pay homage to the original 1967 and 1969 models as part of their vintage SUB series.  Nothing says iconic dive watch like an orange-dialed Doxa SUB and that’s why I had to have one.  Limited to just 1200 pieces, the SUB 1200T Professional is also joined in the Doxa lineup with the Sharkhunter (black dial/orange minute hand), Searambler (silver dial, orange minute hand) and the NUMA (blue dial, white hands), all 1200 meter models that share the same bezel, case and bracelet plus Swiss automatic movement. 

Of course, many non-WIS people are aware of Doxa because of author Clive Cussler and his fictional hero Dirk Pitt® donning an orange Doxa SUB in the many books that chronicle his adventures.

Doxa refers to the SUB 1200T’s 42mm case size and a ‘more traditional sized’ Doxa sub.  Works for me, as I find the size to be just about perfect for a dive watch.  The SUB 1200T starts with a polished and brushed stainless steel case in the classic cushion style, which is a great look.   The sides are polished, the case top is brushed.  The case measures 42.3mm without the knurled and signed screw down crown; 44.1mm with the crown.  Thickness is 14.3mm, lug width is 20mm.  It sure is nice to have a dive watch with more normal proportions that still is rated for an extremely deep depth as opposed to the super large, clown-like dimensions of some dive watches on the market today.

The caseback is polished and screws down and is stamped with the Doxa fish logo and has miscellaneous information, such as the water resistance rating, serial number, model name, etc.  The left side of the case at the 9 position features the automatic helium release valve (HRV), which is very unobtrusive and fits flush with the case side.

The SUB 1200T is factory rated for 1200 meters (3937 feet) of water resistance.

One of the most identifiable features of any Doxa dive watch is its patented no-decompression dive table bezel, which is engraved with the United States Navy non-decompression table on the outer part of the bezel, with standard 60-minute markings on the inner part of the bezel.  The non-decompression markings are in orange, the timing markings are in black.  A round inset lume pip is at the 60 mark on the inner timing ring.

The bezel itself is a 120-click unidirectional type with sharp, deep knurls that make it easy to grip and turn.  The bezel clicks authoritatively through its rotation with no backlash.  The bezel also stands proud of the case top which gives the watch a unique and strong appearance. 

The screwdown crown mimics the knurled edge of the bezel, which makes the crown easy to use and to screw in and out for time setting, along with coordinating with the bezel for an integrated look and feel.  The crown screws down about 2.5 turns to lock.

The 27mm wide dial is vivid orange (after all, this is THE original orange-dialed diver) and imparts a can’t-miss look to this watch.  It stands out, but it is not garish in any way.  It’s more subtle than a Seiko orange monster and exudes an all-business attitude when sitting on your wrist.

Luminous markers at the five minute marks are bordered by black bars, with small black hash marks indicating the minutes between the larger five-minute markers.    Thin black lines extend inward onto the dial from the markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9, somewhat sectioning off the dial into quarter hour increments.

The hands are black with inset lume and the hour hand is considerably smaller than the minute hand, a nod to true diving capability, as minutes spent underwater are the vital component of timing.  Doxa refers to the small hour hand as a ‘dwarf’ hour hand.  All the lume is Superluminova and needless to say, it’s outstanding, as it should be.  The second hand is black with a lume box-end tip.

A quickset date is located at the three position, with a black on white date wheel.  The date window is large enough to be read easily and wheel alignment within the window is good.

Overall, the dial is very legible and that’s the point of a dive watch, you need to see the time easily when you’re underwater.  The wording ‘DOXA’ and ‘automatic’ are printed in the upper left quadrant on the dial, with ‘SUB 1200T’ and ‘Professional’ printed in the lower right quadrant.

The dial is topped with a slightly domed 3mm thick sapphire crystal that fits flush with the bezel at its edge.  Anti-reflective coating is applied to the crystal to reduce glare.

Keeping to its 1967 roots, the SUB 1200T is equipped with a solid link stainless steel bracelet with solid end links and a machined deployant.  The clasp is signed and stamped with the Doxa fish logo and features a double locking safety tab.  A rather cheapish stamped steel diver extension is also part of the clasp.  This dive extension should be a machined part, not stamped.  There are four micro-adjustment holes on the clasp.

Doxa says this bracelet is of a sturdier design than previous versions and overall, it feels good, but they kind of cheated with the ‘beads of rice’ design.  A true vintage beads of rice bracelet has the ‘rice’ as separate link pieces in the bracelet, not made into one solid link as the bracelet on the SUB 1200T.  I can see advantages to the solid design, it’s not rattle-prone and would be more secure, so I can live with it, but don’t expect a true beads of rice bracelet here.  The outer links are polished on the edges, with the top surface of the bracelet being brushed.  The bracelet measures 20mm along its entire length.  Adjustment is by screws and Doxa supplies a screwdriver to make link removal and sizing easy.

One thing that really impressed me about the SUB 1200T is its overall heft.  But it’s a heft of a different sort.  Many dive watches feel heavy, and yes, the SUB 1200T feels heavy, but it also feels solid, tank-like.  It’s a reassuring feeling having it on your wrist.  Doxa states the weight of this watch at 162 grams (about 5.7 ounces).  Nice!

Inside the SUB 1200T is the ubiquitous ETA 2824-2 25-jewel Swiss Made automatic movement that hacks and manually winds.  During my testing, it ran at +14 seconds/24 hours and turned in an expected power reserve of 41-3/4 hours.  Doxa states the movement is decorated by them, but since the caseback is not a display type and I don’t want to compromise the water resistance of my SUB 1200T by cracking the back open, I will take them at their word.  Simply put, it’s got a workhorse of a movement in it and should perform for many years without complaint.

Presentation is Doxa special with a heavy anodized aluminum scuba bottle case, which includes the watch, documentation and the aforementioned Bergeon screw driver. It’s a fun and ‘world famous’ presentation (at least according to Doxa).

The word ‘legend’ is probably overused these days, but when it comes to the Doxa SUB 1200T Professional, it’s a word that fits and is not in any way contrived or trite.  Solid, great looking and a serious dive tool watch, the SUB 1200T is a legend and is definitely worth a long look and consideration if you want one for work, play or just because it’s the coolest orange-dial watch there is.

Pros: iconic dive watch heritage and looks, unique hand set and bezel, dial the perfect shade of orange, solid build quality, great lume

Cons:  beads of rice bracelet could be executed better, dive extension should be machined

Verdict:  even if the most diving you do is washing your hands in the sink, this is one dive watch you should have in your collection.  A classic, bar none.


Thanks for reading and enjoy the pictures.

Excelsior!

-Marc




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