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DOXA diver dials ... is it a virus or just an obsession ?


manodeoro

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Some months ago a US watch lover contacted me to ask if I could make a new dial for his Doxa SUB.
He specifically wanted an early 300 T dial, the orange one with an "Aqua Lung /U.S. Divers" logo.

 

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Aqua Lung is the US name of a French company, "La Spirotechnique", who's chairman was the French "lieutenant de vaisseau" Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

 

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I'm French too and when I was about 10 years old I spent hours and hours looking at "Le Monde du Silence" from Commandant Cousteau.
 

So there was no way for me to say "no" ... and I said "I'll try to" ...


But let's first talk about the history behind the watch ...

 


Aqua Lung :
In 1943 Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Émile Gagnan patented their invention of diving equipment, a regulator inspired by the one patented in 1860 and 1864 by Benoît Rouquayrol and Auguste Denayrouze.
Once the war ended, in 1945, they patented an improved their model under the names of "Scaphandre Cousteau-Gagnan", "CG45" (for Cousteau-Gagnan 1945) and "Aqua Lung", the latter name being for export to English-speaking countries. .
In 1946, Air Liquide founded "La Spirotechnique", its own division destined to conceive and mass-produce regulators and other diving equipment, and marketed the "CG45".
The latter's English-speaking name, "Aqua Lung", became the common name of the company itself, which nowadays is officially called "Aqua Lung / La Spirotechnique", although it communicates only under the "Aqua Lung" name alone.

 


U.S. Divers Company :
At the end of the 40ies, the company "René Sporting foods", based in Los Angeles and directed by René Bussoz, bought the rights to import Aqualung for the east coast of the United States.
In 1952 René Bussoz changed the name of his company to "U.S. Divers Company" and registered the Aqualung brand in the United States.
In 1957 he sold his company and the trade name to "La Spirotechnique".
By the end of 2016 Air-Liquide sold "Aqualung International" and it's US branch, "U.S. Divers Company", was renamed Aqua Lung America

 


Doxa SUB 300 T:
Doxa is a Swiss watch brand founded in 1889 by Georges Ducommun.
At the end of the 1960s, Doxa decided to produce a professional diving watch.
The brand hired Jaques-Yves Cousteau, then director of US Divers Co., and Claude Wesly, a well known french diver, to write the specifications of that watch ... (some years later Claude Wesly worked at Comex with Henri Germain Delauze).
In 1967 the Doxa SUB 300 T was produced and "U.S. Divers Co." (American branch of "La Spirotechnique") commercialized it in the United States with its own branding added on the dial ... including both the name "Aqualung" and the name "US Divers Co.".
After the "Aqualung / U.S. Divers Co." Doxa produced other diver watches, independently or in collaboration with different companies specializing in scuba diving, like "Poseidon", or non-profit organisations like "Project Aware" ...

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The first thing I did was to download a bunch of pics from the web and use them as template to design the "professional" dial.
After hours spent on Illustrator I achieved to get what I would call a "nice design" ...

554313122_01-SCREEN.thumb.jpg.22c96c7ba751dc5a4ae16a8552615777.jpg

After finishing the design I wanted to check how it would look when printed, so I did a first "test print" on a blank copper dial plate

804213716_03-TESTPROFESSIONAL.thumb.jpg.9e680a6b6061db43b03be43b043809f1.jpg

Along the process the guy asked me if I could try to make a black "sharkhunter" ... so I designed that one too and made another "print test", still on a blank dial plate

301334592_04-TESTSHARKHUNTER.thumb.jpg.0b0ecd797c4eb2578782826258cbaebb.jpg

 

The results proved to be good enough so I decided to go further and started to work on an orange "professional" dial ...

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SUB 300 T "professional"

outlined "U.S. Divers Co." Aqua-Lung logotype
 

I won't detail all the making process of that dial as it could be a little boring ...
 

I'll just say that it includes multiple coats of solvant based spray paint, a kitchen oven that can heat up to 572 F°, film-free decal sheets, a professional laser printer and a ceramic hair-dryer that could put your hair in fire ... plus patience, thoroughness and some of those tricks you can learn only from too many failures and too rare successes ...

 

1461247884_10-SUB300T.thumb.jpg.3abf46ebc5f39b04ff7d8d4d632d6a96.jpg

 

 

 

Edited by manodeoro
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SUB 300 "professional" no T ... nicknamed "blacklung"
black "U.S. Divers Co." Aqua-Lung logotype on yellow background

That one is the last I've made ... I just finsihed it 2 days ago after wandering some time in the "hommage" and "modded seiko" lands ...
But as it's the second "real" Doxa Sub dial I've made ... printed on a vintage ETA 2783 dial plate and ready to be put in a Doxa case ... I post it just after the first one ...

I used the same making process ... apart from the fact that there were much more steps along that making ...
The orange background was made first, then the general black print without the "blacklung" ... Then I made the yellow disk on the 3rd quadrant and printed the "blacklung" on it ...

2043665299_11-SUB300NOT.thumb.jpg.62f3d058180afb853ce2bd944ee81871.jpg

Below is a close-up of the "blacklung" ...
"Hmmm ... not that crispy" would you say ?.. please remember that the yellow disk is 6.5 mm only (dial diameter is 27.5 mm) ...

1474639105_12-SUB300NOTCLOSEUP.thumb.jpg.f787209331f4d2511be0529a0a89d949.jpg

 

... to be continued ...

Edited by manodeoro
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PALAWAÏ SUB 300 T ... Divinstar hommage
"Adopt a Dive Site" logotype


Some weeks after I finished the first SUB 300 T dial my elder son saw it and asked me if I could make a Doxa hommage based on a Seiko turtle.
I ordered a blank NH35 dial from a Seiko parts website, measured the date window dimensions and position and modified the general dial design so that it could fit the dial plate.
Then I worked on the "name" and "logotype" ...

Name :
Around his 20ies my son had an "ephemeral" surf shop ...
The shop name was "Palawai" ... from Palavas in south of France, where his shop was based, and Hawaï ... guess why ...
So the name of that Doxa hommage had to be "PALAWAI" ...

Logotype :
My son, though working as an Oil and Gas engineer, is involved in ocean protection ... plus he's a seasoned diver ...
So I've decided to place an "adopt a dive site" logotype on the 3rd quadrant of that custom dial ...

 

Of course the dial feet are placed for a date window at 3:00

The dial was supposed to be yellow at first, as it's a Divingstar hommage, but lately my son asked me to make it orange

 

2128707441_13-SUB300PALAWAI.thumb.jpg.307437d025116c9390d5ab51844a576a.jpg

 

 

Edited by manodeoro
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Thanks buddies .. Voilà la suite 😃

 

SUB 300 T "Divingstar" ... no logo

As the first Seiko modded dial, the "Palawaï", looked really nice IMO, I decided to make some more dials for Seiko watches ...
Some are just hommage and some are still "in progress" ...

 

But I like the yellow "Divingstar" so much that I've decided to make it exist ...


1088166858_14-SUB300DIVINGSTAR.thumb.jpg.0a53e16e6417ab1655a2a2f156d0b902.jpg

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and now the last one ... for some days or weeks ...

 

SUB 300 T "searambler"
outlined "U.S. Divers Co." Aqua-Lung logotype

To be 100% honest I'm definitely not a real fan of the "searambler" ... I prefer all those with funny colours ...
But I really wondered if I could make a sunburst Doxa dial so I just had to try ...

 

683650416_14-SUB300SEARAMBLER.thumb.jpg.af93948df62cb2e29b31187444851483.jpg

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Outstanding!! How about a Palawai with the outlined USD logo?

For the sake of the owners of “real” Black Lungs you might consider adding a mark on the back that only you know about, to maintain the integrity of the originals. I know the Dark Lord started doing that a few years back so his negative relief dials can be positively identified from gen Rolex.

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17 hours ago, Nanuq said:

Outstanding!! How about a Palawai with the outlined USD logo?

For the sake of the owners of “real” Black Lungs you might consider adding a mark on the back that only you know about, to maintain the integrity of the originals. I know the Dark Lord started doing that a few years back so his negative relief dials can be positively identified from gen Rolex.

 

Thanks ... 

 

If I ever decide to replace the "Aware" logo on the Palawai dial ... that watch is "French Made" so I would probably use "la spirotechnique" logo

laspirotechnique.jpg.2166b0c8f8468e7c09804303e53e4f31.jpg

 

About adding a mark on the back of my dials ...

I know my work is thousand miles away from the work Dark Lord did ... when I look at his dials I feel like a candle looking at a supernova :blush:

Nevertheless I think it's a really good idea and I'll search a way to do that ... possibly some sort of "stamp" if I find a way to do that

 

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Wow.  Just .... WOW.  This is amazing.      :notworthy:
You know what ?... I can't wait to see it in real ...
I have some blank dial plates coming to me so as soon as they arrive I'll make that one and post some pics ... I hope shipping won't be delayed because of Covid 19 ...

I'm waiting for this too ... from a retired watchmaker near Paris ...

09039f6850a4e85d0c69362bccd84ee8.jpg
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Some days ago a member here asked me if I would make a Black Lung for his Seiko Prospex ... so I started working on the design as the one I already made was for an ETA dial

While doing that I realized that I had made a BIG mistake while designing the first version of that dial

On almost all the SUB 300 T, including the early Seamasters :
- the 5mn marks "touch" the rehaut
- there are 1 to 3 tiny marks between the lumed 15mn marks and the rehaut
- there are 3 tiny marks between the date window and the rehaut

33d5076fcda6d780935050b506a3bc77.jpg

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If you look closer at the SUB 300 Black Lung (no T) dials you can notice that there's a tiny gap between rehaut and the 5mn marks

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so I have modified my design to respect that specificity

The second specific point is that on the Gen Black Lung watches (ETA dials) the date window is really close to the rehaut.
Considering the internal diameter of the metal chapter on the Seikos (27.72mm) and the dimensions and position of the date window, it is clearly impossible to keep the same design and the date window will be more distant from the rehaut (metal chapter on Seiko's).

So there are 2 options :
1 - keep the exact "Black Lung" design and accept that there will be a larger blank part between the black rectangle around the date window and the rehaut
2 - modify a little the design and add 3 tiny printed marks between the black rectangle and the rehaut

Below are 2 comparison pics that illustrate those 2 options.
Left is a Gen SUB 300 Black Lung dial and right is the design for a NH35 movement.
On the NH35 design the black exterior circle shows the size of the Seiko dial (28.55mm) and the orange part shows the part of the dial that will be visible through the metal chapter (of course in real all the surface of the blank dial plate will be painted orange).

OPTION 1 - respectful of the original design

e5b15aaebc2663e62ab0d3fe5d5be5ab.jpg

OPTION 2 - modified to match Seiko's window date position

629fc5a38683da5abad2234d7708d5b1.jpg

My opinion is that the second option, though less respectful of the original design, would be a better choice as the 3 tiny printed indices on the right of the date window will be less noticable than the "gap" between the date window and the rehaut on the first option.

The future owner agrees with me ... plus he thinks the 3 tiny marks on the right of the date window will be a perfect "tell" so people will easily know that the dial is not a genuine one ... so we have decided to go with option 2 which is definitely better balanced.

BTW ... I'm a honest guy and I always stand by my work ...
So the guy for whom I made the first ETA Black Lung will get a new dial with the new better design ...
I have already prepared a blank ETA dial plate and I'll modify the ETA design and print it within a few days ...

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On 11/6/2020 at 10:23 PM, marsupilami said:

please use glossy paint for both pad printing ink and dial varnish (like gen. sub 300 dial)

 

for the orange dial.

black varnish is matte with glossy print.

 

I don't have no idea if the original dials were printed glossy or semi-glossy ... but looking at the pics I found on the web it seems they have all become semi glossy or even matte ... except for the sunbursts of course ...

The blacklung below, published by Michael Stockton from on Fratello Magazine, is a good example IMHO ...

I'll do some trials with glossy finish, just to see how it looks, but I don't want my dials to look brand new so I'll probably keep on doing them semi-glossy or matte ...

BTW ... I avoid using varnish on my dials ... as few varnishes can withstand a stay in water

 

454692307_08-VINTAGESUB300DIALS.jpg.e33bfcee37e85569d0575dadef958e87.jpg

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Here is what my Black Lung looks like.  If you look carefully you can see the shadow and reflection of the underside of the seconds hand reflected in the glossy dial.  Where it reflects off the orange surface is not as pronounced, and where it reflects from the black logo it is much more visible.   The difference in reflection from those two colored surfaces shows you how glossy it is.

 

dial_shadows.jpg

 

 

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13 hours ago, Nanuq said:

Here is what my Black Lung looks like.  If you look carefully you can see the shadow and reflection of the underside of the seconds hand reflected in the glossy dial.  Where it reflects off the orange surface is not as pronounced, and where it reflects from the black logo it is much more visible.   The difference in reflection from those two colored surfaces shows you how glossy it is.

 

dial_shadows.jpg

 

 

 

the die is cats ... I'll try my chanve to make them glossy ...

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Somebody here asked me if I would lume those dials ... and the answer is "YES Sir" ...
Here are some pics of the lumed dials and handsets ...

"Sub 300 T Aqualung"
day light pic and lume pic

62aa11ece2ce328933062ef216b0084b.jpg

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"Sub 300 Blacklung"
day light pic and lume pic
I even achieved to make the 1/3mm lume dot to the left of the date window ...

ff1a133992347a3df22b1bba53289b76.jpg

5c4c2098ee5ce3eb5201b83005b65551.jpg

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