Dive Watch Releases / Articles

2013-01-28

AQUADIVE Bathyscaphe 300N DLC Review

BACKGROUND During the 60s and 70s, AQUADIVE were renowned for producing high-quality Swiss handcrafted dive watches, appreciated as much for their aesthetics as they were for their robustness and reliability. These iconic dive watches were not only essential diving instruments that professional divers depended upon for measuring dive-time, but also became great on-land companions.

Today with a combined experience of over 100 years in the watch industry, the people behind the Aquadive brand (re-launched in 2011) are a passionate and knowledgeable group of aficionados, collectors and watchmakers, who wish to remain true to their heritage whilst incorporating many of the great advances that have been made in the dive watch industry over the last few years. The Bathyscaphe 300N DLC beautifully illustrates this direction . . .



AESTHETIC A true modern-vintage divers watch; combining classic vintage looks with subtle modern tweaks. The barrel shaped case, un-guarded crown, and high sitting bezel with ‘piano key’ teeth, the vintage dial and typically 70s looking white on black bezel markings will appeal enormously to those who have an appreciation of true vintage watches or retro styled reinterpretations -

whilst the DLC coating, ceramic bezel insert, subtly integrated HEV (nestled neatly between the lugs) and re-engineered ISOfrane rubber divers strap will catch the attention of those that demand the very latest in divers watch technologies. The watch exudes quality whilst maintaining a robust and masculine feel.



DIAL The BS 300N has a black galvanized dial with applied baton and trapezoid shaped (3, 6, 9 and 12) SuperLuminova markers. The second markers and text are printed in white. There’s the ‘Aquadive’ name and logo on the top half of the dial, then there are three rows of text with the ‘Bathyscaphe 300’ name and some specification on the bottom half.

The text is really small and as such is fairly unobtrusive, but if you have poor eyesight, it might become a little blurry! To be honest I’m not a huge fan of printing spec. on dials, it’s a little redundant, but if it's there it should be at least legible. Regardless, the overall dial execution is very crisp - everything is nicely balanced, too. The date window at 3 o’clock is in black (just as should be).



HANDS The hands of the BS 300N recall those used by the ‘Model 50’ from the 70s, only with a bit of modernization. They are partially skeletonized with SuperLuminova running through their middle. The minute hand is in orange and chrome whereas the hour hand is fully chromed. The second hand has a square-shaped pointer in red. It is also applied with lume.

LUME The hands, dial markers and bezel pip are applied with C3 SuperLuminova. The lume is nice and bright - not blinding, but more than acceptable. The lume color is green - however I would have preferred either BGW9 (blue), which would make the dial markers nice and white or either vintage-orange to play off all the black. The green is fine, it's just not exciting. I would rate the lume at 'good'.



CASE The Bathyscpahe 300N uses the exact same case that was used for the Aquadive ‘Model 50’ Depth Gauge of the 1970s. It is 1/1 reproduction with identical dimensions: 47mm (diameter) x 53mm (lug to lug) x 20mm (height). It has been CNC milled from solid block of Stainless steel.

The ‘barrel’ shaped case was fairly typical of dive watches of that era, differing only in that it was probably a lot more substantial than a typical divers wristwatch of the its day as it was designed to accommodate a depth gauge mechanism. If we take a look at the case side, there is a gentle curve. The top of the case sides have been beveled and polished, highlighting the lovely barrel shape.



DLC The BS 300N’s DLC (diamond like carbon) coating was carried out by reportedly the best and most experienced coating facility in Switzerland. In terms of quality it is probably the best I have seen. There are numerous types of DLC treatments with differing hardness and color. The BS 300N’s DLC coating is a dark charcoal color, unlike some coatings; the brushed and polished surfaces of the watch case are clearly visible despite the DLC treatment.



BEZEL The BS 300N features a 45mm Stainless steel 120-click type, uni-directional rotational divers bezel with a scratch-resistant Ceramic insert, engraved with an elapsed dive-time scale. The bezel markings are very cool, they reflect the watch’s 70s heritage however some might find them a little crowed. I would have preferred a slightly more clearly defined space between the band of white on the dive-time scale and its white 5-minute markers, as they are, they’re a little too closely squashed together.

The bezel has been milled on a CNC machine rather stamped as many bezels are. Each of its ‘piano key’ teeth have been individually cut and then polished by hand. The bezel is absolutely spot-on in terms of stability and movement. The clicks are clearly distinguished and with a satisfying clicking sound that comes from the laser-cut ratcheting spring.



CROWN The BS 300N has multi-sealed, spring-loaded (you can clearly see the spring), screw-down crown. Its design echoes that of the bezel teeth. It measures 7mm in diameter and has been signed with the ‘Aquadive’ logo. Because the crown is unhindered by a crown guard it is particularly easy to manipulate. The stem is rock-solid making winding, setting of the time and opening and closing simple and reassuring. The crown would certainly benefit from an extra mm or so in diameter.



HEV The HEV or ‘Helium Escape Valve’ has become a ubiquitous feature of the modern day professional divers watch. Though it is not really a feature that many scuba divers will ever use, as only deep sea SAT divers are required to decompress in helium decompression tanks. However boys being boys, we all want one – just in case! ;)

I like Aquadive’s answer to this, rather than just plonking one on the side of case à la Rolex, they’ve opted for a stealthier placement between the lower lugs at 6 o’clock thus un-interrupting the beautifully brushed 70s vintage case side. Either that or they were just trying to be different, which don't believe they were.



CASEBACK The solid steel caseback is a screwdown type with two rows of laser engraved text running round its perimeter and a large ‘Aquadive’ engraved logo in the center. Again the caseback has been CNC machined not stamped. Otherwise the caseback is fairly unremarkable.

CRYSTAL The BS 300N has 5mm thick flat Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on its inside. I am aware that the double domed or highly domed Sapphire crystals are very much in vogue these days, but the flat crystal gives the BS 300 a clean look that suits it well. I’m not saying that a domed crystal wouldn’t work too or would even be any less appealing, but in this case it wasn’t a necessary enhancement.



WATER-resistance The BS 300 has a water-resistance of 3000 meters or 10000 feet making it one of only a handful of Swiss made mechanical wrist watches with such a high water-resistance. However it was in fact tested to a depth of 5000 meters! Unlike other extreme divers, the BS 300 isn’t all about its depth rating – it’s kind of incidental, which I find pretty cool. Follow the link HERE to see details on the BS 300’s pressure testing.



MOVEMENT The BS300N is powered by the reliable workhorse that is the Swiss made ETA 2824-2 self-winding caliber with 25 jewel, Incabloc shock protection system, tested and regulated in 3 (‘N’ series is not 5) positions. The movement is shielded by a soft iron anti-magnetic casing. Please note that the ‘N’ series watches do not come with test certificates.



STRAP / BUCKLE The BS 300 comes on a genuine 24mm ISOfrane black rubber divers strap with a solid CNC machined Stainless steel signed ‘AQUADIVE’ buckle. The strap is soft and comfortable to wear. ISOfrane rubber divers straps are among the very best that there are currently on the market in terms of comfort and durability. Follow the link HERE to read my in-depth ISOfrane strap review.

LUG PINS Yep, unfortunately the watch uses lug-pins not screws. This would have been an obvious update. The only reasoning behind not using screwed lugs would be that Aquadive perhaps didn't want to interrupt the beautiful case lines - possibly the same reason that the HEV was placed between the lugs? The pins aren't very secure - I could pull them out and pop them back again without the need for a tool - convenient yes, but not that secure.   



BUILD Aquadive have successfully combined modern German case making technology with handmade Swiss craftsmanship to create a watch that has been beautifully built and finely finished. Aquadive don’t use any ‘off-the-shelf’ parts either. Each and every component of the BS 300N has first been prototyped (at great time and expense) and then CNC milled in Germany from a solid block of high-grade Stainless steel.

Everything on the BS 300N has been executed exceptionally well. No major flaws are visible to the naked eye despite being made using traditional old-world watch making methods. The case and bezel finishing is fantastic, the DLC treatment is top-notch!

ON THE WRIST The most noticeable trait of the the BS 300 is its height or at least its perceived height. It isn't actually that high. It does seem to tower up from you wrist, though. There's no getting past that. It's a large watch, and that is much of its appeal. If that concerns you then the BS 100N DLC might be a better choice. You get the same look only smaller and lighter.  



VALUE The BS ‘N’ series watches have made a few minor economy cuts by using painted on dial markers instead appliqué chromed markers and by adjusting the movement to 3 positions rather than 5, also they lack a movement test certificate. But this makes a substantial saving of 600USD making the watch all the more obtainable. 

The BS 300N DLC is sold online by Aquadive for 2390USD (inc. shipping). If we consider the watch’s superb heritage, the fact that all of its components were CNC machined in Germany and that its dial hands, movement etc. are all genuine Swiss made components – at its price point it’s going to be pretty hard to beat. The only thing to note here, is that a bracelet is not included. Still, it’s a hell of lot of watch for under 2.5 grand.



COMPARE The BS 300 really is its own thing. Sure there are a number divers with similar spec. but none with the same kind of heritage and spec. combined, and at such a reasonable price. The closet that comes to mind would be the Delma Santiago BlueShark 3000m, which although is a modern design does have some vintage touches. Its MSRP is 1'840CHF - approx. 1980USD. 

If you've got twice the budget (4099USD) and are looking for a something equally imposing, you might take a look at the new Ball Engineer hydrocarbon DeepQUEST. Like the BS 300N both are Swiss made autos with 3000m of WR.


© OceanicTime
OVERALL r a t i n g / 5
A unique and appealing design with true dive watch heritage dating back to the 1970s combined with the very latest in divers watch technologies. The Bathyscaphe 300N DLC offers the very best of both worlds! At a glance the watch recalls its past with its case made using an exact reproduction of a 1970s depth gauge. 

However, if you look a little closer, you'll see that this 70s watch case has been cleverly adapted into a modern tool watch incorporating tough, cutting-edge materials such as DLC and Ceramic and with a very high level of water-resistance to boot. It's not a quite a Ploprof killer, but it is fantastic dive watch nevertheless and one that every true dive watch aficionado should have in their collection.

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