OceanicTime Archives

2020-10-09

The story of AQUASTAR

Aquastar was founded in 1962 in the city of Geneva, Switzerland by Mr. Frédéric Robert, a diver, sailor, watchmaker and mathematician, who had once even represented Switzerland in yachting at the 1948 Summer Olympics. In short a remarkable gentleman and genius of the sort that you don’t run into every day.

Mr. Robert took over the JeanRichard brand from his father and soon changed its name from JeanRichard© to Aquastar to reflect the idea behind his venture, which was to create measuring instruments for professional divers and other aquatic activities. 

Within ten years of its foundation, Aquastar had been awarded several patents, and with each new patent, a new Aquastar family member was born.

The inner rotating bezel of the Model 63, the multiple dive decompression bezel of the Deepstar, the Benthos and the Regate; as well as a new crown-sealing system that was incorporated into every Aquastar, and finally the regatta counter watches. Being envisaged as strictly professional instruments, Aquastar watches were only available through professional diving equipment outlets: they were available through SCUBAPRO in the USA, Spirotechnique in France and Nemrod in Spain. While Aquastar timepieces set milestones in the development of diver’s and regatta watches, a lack of mainstream distribution channels could have been the reason why the brand remained one of the industry’s best kept secret particularly in the sphere of professional diving.

Also, the unstoppable advance of quartz technology at the time made it even more difficult for Aquastar and Frédéric Robert to continue innovating and developing new watches. 

As a consequence, Frédéric Robert took a consulting position at a large Swiss watch brand and orchestrated the development of 2 legendary timepieces.

In 1974 Frédéric Robert retired and the following year in 1975, Aquastar was acquired by the Eren Group, also established in Geneva. 

The Eren group implemented a new strategy and created mainstream dive and sports watches like the Aquastar), which were then made available to the general public through retail outlets until 1982. 

 The Eren group managed to achieve commercial success with Aquastar, especially in Spain, Italy and Portugal with local distribution partners.

In 1982, Mr. Marc Seinet, an avid sailor and 3rd generation watchmaker wanted to acquire a watch brand with its facilities, staff and resources in order to start a new era of watch-marketing in collaboration with Hollywood stars. 

Mr. Seinet acquired Aquastar and probably created the first ever Swiss watch carrying the name of a star. It was the Alain Delon wristwatch.

In 1983 Mr. Seinet also realized that the traditional mechanical Swiss watches that were passed down through generations no longer appealed to the young population that had become used to the convenience, accuracy but also the disposability of the quartz watch.

He recognized the need for a new type of fashion watch was imminent as well as a required change from the traditional Swiss watch to a new type of affordable timepiece made of plastic and housing a robust quartz movement. 

Aquastar created a new affordable type of watch, which marked a new era of commercial success for the brand.

After achieving the necessary commercial success with a rather unconventional timepiece, Mr. Seinet decided to focus on his passion, which was sailing, and continued in the tradition of Frédéric Robert creating multiple generations of mechanical, quartz and LED regatta watches between 1983 and 2018.

Rick Marei, the mastermind behind the resurrection of several Swiss brands, which included facilitating the return of the Doxa© SUB©, approached Aquastar and suggested a new online sales, business model. 

This approach didn’t result in a business collaboration, however Mr. Marei was able to successfully apply his new business model to the rebirth of the Doxa SUB© in 2001 to make Doxa© the first Swiss brand to offer its collection to the online public.

In 2018 Mr. Seinet and Rick Marei met once again. Meanwhile Mr. Marei had successfully resurrected the famous Aquadive brand as well as two legendary names in diver’s straps, ISOfrane & Tropic. 

 Rick Marei was also the first man to help put a watch collection of a Swiss brand online back in 1999, an unprecedented method of marketing Swiss watches at that time.

In 2019, Seinet and Marei made an agreement to reboot the Aquastar brand and start a new chapter in the brand’s history; unfortunately Mr. Seinet got involved in designing an E-learning concept and was not able to put resources into the new Aquastar. The Synchron group then acquired the company from Mr. Seinet with all of its old stock, toolings, spare parts as well as all of its blueprints and documentations; and agreed to serve existing Aquastar customers in the future and relaunch the brand in 2020.

During the 1960s; divers were going deeper and staying down longer, mapping the ocean, discovering new worlds, and exploring the limits of human endurance and tolerance for pressure. 

 But stay too deep for too long and a diver can either run out of air or get the bends.

Enter Aquastar, a watch brand founded in 1962 with the sole aim of designing and building watches and instruments for aquatic use. 

Aquastar’s early watches were worn by navy divers, shipwreck hunters, champion freedivers and undersea explorers. But it was the Deepstar that really broke new ground when it appeared in 1965.

There are a handful of historical dive watches that collectors prize above all others. We all know the ones. A few have been in continuous production. 

Others have been re-issued for modern enthusiasts. However there is one name that seemingly disappeared into the depths, with only the occasional sighting of a rare vintage example. Now that name has finally resurfaced.

In 2020, Aquastar is reborn, with an eye to the tremendous history of the brand, and for the detail of its remarkable watches. 

Of course, it made sense to resurface with the most iconic watch, the Deepstar.Sized for modern wrists, the watch nevertheless retains the details that divers sought and collectors covet.

While its oversized single 30-minute counter and angular applied dial markers gave the Deepstar an unmistakable appearance even from a distance, the real genius was its multifunction bezel.

Developed by renowned Belgian technical diver, Marc Jasinski, the bezel could not only track elapsed dive time, but the outer scale was designed to be used with dive tables to calculate required decompression times for safe repetitive dives. 

 This measure of additional safety had never appeared on a watch before and wouldn’t until the advent of the digital dive computer three decades later.

The 2020 Aquastar Deepstar Column Wheel Chronograph is a faithful recreation of one of the most influential dive watches of the 60s, an unmatched diver-oriented tool with an instantly recognizable design.

The 2020 Deepstar retains all proportions of the original Deepstar from the 60s while relying on a high end Swiss Manufacture automatic Chronograph movement instead of the manual wind Valjoux 23.

This gives the new Deepstar the practicality and versatility you expect from a modern Chronograph. The radial finishing of its Cold Blue, Steel Grey, or Vintage Black dial, the polished applied markers, the oversized 30-minute counter, and of course, its dual scale rotating bezel.

Inside ticks a manufacture column wheel chronograph caliber developed for Aquastar by Swiss movement specialists at La Joux-Perret. 

The watch comes fitted on a 22-millimeter genuine TROPIC rubber strap, with a second, handmade Shell Cordovan leather band, both with Aquastar-signed steel buckles. 

 Follow the link to PRE-ORDER the 2020 Aquastar Deepstar Re-Edition.

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