Editor’s Note: In honor of the DOXA Sub 300 Aqua Lung “Black Lung”, we asked Analog Shift founder and self-proclaimed DOXAholic James Lamdin why this watch is so important to collectors and revered by diving enthusiasts. He graciously agreed to share but a few of his innumerable insights. -BB
Note: StockX is offering 5 “Internal Use Only” Sub 300 “Black Lung” watches for retail pricing this weekend only. Learn more about this opportunity, along with how you can enter, right here.
Few pieces in the pantheon of diver’s watch history are as instantly recognizable as the DOXA Sub 300. With its soft cushion case design, unidirectional rotating timing bezel, flexible beads of rice bracelet and signature bright orange dial, the DOXA Sub 300 marked the beginning of an era, and is considered by many to be the first purpose-built diver’s watch to reach the market.
Introduced in 1967, the DOXA Sub 300 immediately found a home on the wrists of divers worldwide, attracting amateur and professionals alike. Among the professionals who adopted the Sub 300 was legendary explorer Jacques Cousteau, who recognized the need by divers for a non-decompression bezel, a new timing device that was invented and patented by DOXA. He liked the design so much he selected the watch to be offered through his diving equipment company, US Divers, and cut a deal with DOXA to be the sole distributor in North America. While Cousteau had aided in the development of numerous other timepieces geared towards the diving community, his selection of the Sub 300 model for his catalog would add an authenticity and a historical seal of approval most brands could only dream of.
DOXA diving watches retailed by US Divers in the Americas featured the Aqua Lung logo printed on their dials, characterized by the twin-hose SCUBA tank design which Cousteau and fellow Frenchman Émile Gagnan developed in 1942. The introduction of the first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus changed the course of history, making the world beneath the waves accessible for millions of recreational divers in the decades to follow.
During the design and development period for the initial run of co-branded pieces, a small batch of Sub 300 models were produced with a full-color (black and yellow) Aqua Lung logo. During testing, this design was ultimately scrapped in favor of a simpler outline-only version for reasons of legibility. These outline-only versions reached regular production and were used on subsequent versions of the Sub line into the 1970s. The early fully colored logo versions were made in a very limited quantity, but a handful reached retailers and were sold to the public. Dubbed the “Black Lung” by collectors, it is estimated that only a few pieces or ever reached private hands, and are today considered the “Holy Grail” of DOXA collecting.
Today, DOXA still produces high-quality diving watches with an unprecedented respect and engagement with the collector community and has a long-standing tradition of issuing special limited editions in response to consumer demand. As such, 2017 saw the introduction of a limited run of pieces paying homage to the original Sub 300 models introduced half a century earlier. Paying close attention to the original versions, DOXA released a special tribute to the highly desirable original variant in the form of the DOXA 50th Anniversary Sub 300 “Black Lung”, which sold out in less than 24 hours.