Off the Cuff: 2021 Aquastar Deepstar II

I’m not entirely sure who got the ball rolling. It might have been Oris, who launched their Divers 65 line back in 2015. But then again, you might say it was Tudor’s Black Bay 58 which was released five years before that. What am I talking about? The vintage dive watch craze.

No matter who you attribute with its genesis, having sparked a nostalgic frenzy, watch brands have been plundering their back catalogues for the better part of a decade, revitalizing forgotten references from the 60s and 70s. This has led to the reissue of some wonderful designs. But it has also allowed for another interesting phenomenon—the revival of entire brands.

The quartz crisis of the early 70s which revolutionized the industry, also rang the death knell for a number of smaller watchmakers. Aquastar was one of them.    

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
Aquastar Deepstar II @calibre321

Capitalizing on the market demand for vintage and retro-styled designs, Rick Marei and the Synchron Group swooped in and resurrected the brand’s most iconic model, the Deepstar Chronograph Diver—made famous by its association with Jacques Cousteau.  Recognizing that they had stumbled upon a good thing, a year later the fledgling watchmaker issued the Deepstar II.

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
Three-hand diver with decompression bezel @calibre321

The Deepstar II is not a watch from the Aquastar catalogue. While it references all the seminal elements of its big brother, it is a 37mm three-hander—a Deepstar Reduced, if you will. The result is a more affordable entry level into the brand.


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The Deepstar II ticks all the boxes for those piqued by the quirky, asymmetrical dial of the 2020 Deepstar Chronograph. It also responds to what some felt was an overly large reissue of the original chrono-diver. Beyond its reduced diameter, the Deepstar II rocks a tidy lug to lug of 46.5mm and comes in at a much more easy-wearing 13mm in thickness.

The unique decompression dive bezel has been preserved and you still get an admirable 200m of water resistance, courtesy of its screw down crown and case back.

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
Asymmetrical running seconds register @calibre321

Aquastar has, however, turned the tables on the timepiece’s dial—literally—by flipping the placement of the cyclops 30-minute register in the original over to the left side of the dial as a running seconds index. It also loses the pushers and spinning operation indicator. Still, at a quick glance, you’d swear you were looking at a faithful interpretation.

The hands and cardinal indicators have all been treated with Old Radium Super-LumiNova, and while the area devoted to lume is small, it casts a strong, long-lasting glow.

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
Curved sapphire crystal @calibre321

The movement behind the dial is a Sellita SW290 automatic, where before there was a customized column-wheel calibre from La Joux-Perret. This change is largely responsible for the reduction in both thickness and price. The Sellita is a Swiss workhorse, running at 28 800vph and providing for a 41-hour power reserve. It has also been setup especially for Aquastar in a no-date version, so there is not a ghost position on the dial.

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
No-date version of the Sellita SW290 @calibre321

The Deepstar II is available in three dial colours: sunray blue (featured here), sunray grey, and black. It comes standard on a colour-matched fabric NATO with customized hardware; however, Tropic and Isofrane options—along with a new 19mm beads-of-rice bracelet—also exist.


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Specs

Case316L Stainless Steel
36.75mm Diameter
46.5mm Lug to Lug
13mm Thick
19mm Lug Width
Bidirectional Decompression Bezel
Screw-down Case Back & Crown
200m Water Resistance
Dial & CrystalDomed Sapphire
Applied Markers
Sunray Dial
Old Light Radium Super-LumiNova
MovementSellita SW290
31 Jewels
28 800bph
41-Hour Power Reserve
StrapFabric NATO
Options: Genuine Tropic, Isofrane,
and Stainless Steel Beads of Rice
/w Dive Extension Clasp

2021 Aquastar Deepstar II


Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
Quirky, retro design @calibre321

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Of Interest

Since the release of the Deepstar II, Aquastar has revisited their chronograph with the 2022 Deepstar–a faithful recreation with a slightly smaller 39mm case. Aesthetically, all three timepieces bearing the Deepstar name are similar, if not exactly the same. Clearly the brand recognizes that it is on to a good thing. But the Aquastar catalogue is a deep one (pun intended). There are a number of other very attractive divers in there jostling for position. What makes the Deepstar lineup so popular among enthusiasts is its peculiarity even among other vintage divers. Its embrace of asymmetry is certainly part of the story, but the unique dive bezel–largely useless today, if I’m honest–is also part of its idiosyncrasy. I suspect Aquastar will follow this successful formula of resurrecting whimsical designs by burrowing deeper down the rabbit hole. Keep an eye out for new iterations of the Benthos, the Regate, and the Aquastar 63. Or perhaps it will be the Seatime? The Atoll? An embarrassment of riches awaits…

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
37mm case and 46.5mm lug to lug @calibre321

Quibbles

Fortunately, Aquastar offers several strap and bracelet options for the Deepstar II, as its 19mm lug width will frustrate with aftermarket options.

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
Comes standard on a fabric NATO @calibre321

Final Thoughts

For those diehard Aquastar fans who held off purchasing the 2020 chronograph over sizing concerns, the Deepstar II will certainly be a boon. Although the watch loses its customized calibre and the functionality that goes with it, the overall aesthetic remains. It wears very well on wrist, and the standard NATO is a perfect fit and vibe for the overall design. Despite never having been a child of the 60s, the diver looks and feels the part. Renders of the Deepstar II on beads-of-rice, for example, might well have been torn from period magazine ads. But retro-styling aside, it’s simply a good watch.

The Aquastar Deepstar II retails for $1890USD. For more information, please visit the brand website.

Aquastar Deepstar II Watch Review
Aquastar Deepstar II @calibre321

About the author

Brent Robillard is a writer, educator, craftsman, and watch enthusiast. He is the author of four novels. You can follow him on Instagram.


Off The Cuff articles are full-length, hands-on reviews of the watch in question and represent the opinion of the author only. All photos are original, unless specified otherwise. If you would like to have your watch reviewed on this site, contact us here.

Please understand that using any links to products on this site might result in us making money.

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