If you ask a watch enthusiast whether or not size matters, the answer is invariably…yes. Sometimes down to a tenth of a millimeter. Case diameter, lug to lug length, watch thickness (with or without the crystal), lug width…what’s the size of that crown? How high is that dome? Watch nerds are obsessed with size and measurements. Ask a Rolex traditionalist how they felt about the Explorer 214270. Actually, don’t.
But to be fair, small changes in watch construction often make for big differences in wrist experience. The 2022 Aquastar Deepstar is a perfect example of this. And for me, it was a case of what you don’t know won’t hurt you—until it arrived on my doorstep.
Aquastar did not reinvent the wheel with 2022 Deepstar. But they did respond to aficionados in a way only a microbrand can, quickly. For those unfamiliar with the history of original Deepstar or its initial rerelease in 2020, you can read about it here. However, for the purposes of this review, I will be comparing them, because that’s the real story. A tale of two watches, if you will.
In between these two iterations, Aquastar also released a three-hander reference called the Deepstar II, which is a very vintage-sized 37mm; however, the 2022 Deepstar is the brand’s first effort to reign in the chronograph.
Rick Marei, who breathed new life into brands like Doxa, Aquadive, and Isofrane straps, is also the man behind the Aquastar revival. To rebuild the brand, he chose the Deepstar Chronograph as his flagship. It’s association with Jacques Cousteau and the early heady days of recreational diving make it an inspired choice. Of course, its unique bezel and the staring cyclops eye of its 30-minute register also differentiate it from the herd—or perhaps I should say school—of vintage-styled divers.
Essentially, this latest iteration is a 39mm version of that initial flagship, which measures a mere one-and-a-half millimeters more, at 40.5mm. Does it make a difference? Yes.
Of course, shrinking the case proportionately also changes the lug-to-lug measurement—down from 50mm to 48.5mm. And ultimately, it is this dimension that makes the most difference. Does it make the watch better? More wearable? Well, that depends. The 39mm version of the Deepstar is not an improvement unless your wrist thinks so.
What I can say is that I wear the 40.5mm Deepstar regularly on my 6¾ ” wrist. Watch size is a matter of personal preference, and I don’t mind the chunk. On a thick Isofrane strap, I actually love the heft. However, after having worn the 39mm version, I must admit that my allegiance is split.
The two watches are almost identical outside their size and dial real estate. The 2022 Deepstar has the same customized movement from La Joux Perret (a Valjoux7750-based calibre with a column wheel). Its case is brushed. It has the same iconic, polished decompression bezel. The same strap options, even. In fact, both watches—despite their other dimensions—are 16.5mm thick. But the sapphire crystal on the latest version is a box-style dome, rather than a curved glass, and the dial real estate, being smaller, changes the balance and proportions. The oversized 30-minute register, for example, is closer to the edge. Negligible.
Despite these incremental differences, the 2022 Deepstar is not at all the same watch. Aesthetically, sure. But on wrist, totally different. The original feels like a modern diver, a brutish tool. A dive instrument. The 39mm—in spite of its thickness—wears like a skin diver. On the beads-of-rice-bracelet, its thickness seems to disappear entirely into your wrist. It’s a lovely watch.
Like the original, you get great lume and a solid 200m of water resistance. It comes with the embossed case back and a screw-down crown. The pushers actuate with a fine mechanical snap, and the flyback reset is quicker than the human eye can perceive.
It’s a Deepstar. But its not the same Deepstar. And this is why my allegiance is torn.
|Case||316L Stainless Steel|
48.5mm Lug to Lug
19mm Lug Width
Bidirectional Decompression Bezel
Screw-down Case Back & Crown
200m Water Resistance
|Dial & Crystal||Domed Sapphire|
Old Light Radium Super-LumiNova
|Movement||La Joux Perret Colum Wheel Chronograph|
55-Hour Power Reserve
Bi-compax /w Function Indicator, 30-Minute Register,
& Central Chrono Hand
|Strap||Stainless Steel Beads of Rice|
/w Dive Extension Clasp
Genuine Tropic Strap
2022 Aquastar Deepstar 39mm
When I bought the original Aquastar back in 2020, I couldn’t imagine owning anything but the black reference. The stark white eye glaring out from the liquid depths of the dial had me mesmerized. But the 39mm grey dial featured here is perhaps the best grey dial I’ve ever experienced. I own two other grey dial watches and, frankly, I like grey. But the subtle sunray burst finish of the Deepstar dial is like owning an instantly vintage watch. It comes off like a tropicalized or faded black. It looks great in all manner of light, and it has a much more subdued impact than the black dial. As I said…my allegiance is torn.
A 19mm lug width. Argh…
They really know what they’re doing at Aquastar HQ. The original Deepstar will surely become a collector’s item. Only 300 of each colourway will ever be produced. The 2022 Deepstar will also be difficult, but not impossible, to acquire with only 100 of each reference being produced each year. It’s the perfect evolution. A watch for all seasons. And they made it without compromising the design. I like them both—equally and differently. While the 2020 feels like a high-end weekend beater, the 2022 exudes a touch refinement. This may well be the last of the Deepstar line, barring new colourways. But that’s an exciting thought. The Aquastar back catalogue is a treasure trove of funky divers with the Benthos, the Seatime, the Atoll, and the Regatte Monopusher, waiting in the wings. Exciting times (he says wringing his hands). Exciting times.
The 2022 Aquastar Deepstar retails for $3590USD-$3790USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.
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