The Scubapro 200 "Scubaquartz": The Black (and Gold) Sheep of the Family
There was a time, not all that long ago, when SCUBA suppliers across the globe worked alongside watch manufacturers to produce their own respective timepieces. Before the technological advancements of the computer age, and the subsequent creation of digital dive timers, reliable waterproof watches were a necessity. The bezels allowed divers to track the amount of time remaining before resurfacing. The lumed hands and indices made the time readable even in the dark depths of the ocean. The dive watch was just as much a “piece of kit” as was the regulator, fins, or mask.
Fast forward to modern times, and SCUBA company branded divers have become somewhat of a niche collectible. Horology and adventure go hand in hand among enthusiasts, and there are few better representations of this relationship than a vintage watch adorned with the name of a SCUBA brand. Among the big names in dive gear manufacturers, Scubapro is one of the most prolific. Their beefy “500” model remains relatively available on the second-hand market and is universally well-regarded for its robust, no-nonsense styling. Due to scarcity and a short production period, there is little known, however, about the obscure Scubapro 200.
In the early 60’s, when recreational SCUBA diving was gaining momentum, there were a handful of companies manufacturing and selling gear through dedicated dive shops. Dacor, Sportsways, Voit, Swimaster, and US Divers made gear primarily for recreational “skindiving.” This was, in essence, snorkeling. Scubapro came about as a company in 1963 and rapidly gained (and maintained) a sterling reputation among the professional diving community. As they quickly became the upper echelon of dive gear, the company skyrocketed financially and they were able to innovate and create new products to accommodate the growing SCUBA scene.
From the early days of Scubapro, they sold watches right alongside other equipment integral to diving. Mid to late-sixties catalogs featured Aquastar watches co-branded “Scubapro”, as well as models from Blancpain and Jenny Caribbean. In the seventies, Scubapro released the “500” model. Originally sold with either a black or white bezel, this juggernaut of a timepiece was waterproof to 500 meters and looked every bit as capable as the competition at the time. This model was produced well into the early eighties. Nowadays vintage examples can be found either with self-winding or quartz-powered movements. Eventually, Scubapro 500 production ceased as the company began to transition out of the watch game. Just prior to this graceful exit, they briefly produced a 200m “little brother” to the 500m superstar.
Where the Scubapro 500 reveled in its own herculean masculinity, the later 200 model was discretely svelte. Consider it more of a finesse machine. Referred to as the "Scubaquartz" (and with much more believably useful water resistance) the 200 has the luxury of being super thin. We are talking 9mm thin. The 200 was introduced in 1984 and was gone by 1986. This is likely because after 1986, Scubapro began manufacturing watches in Japan rather than Switzerland. This short production period equates to a watch that is rarely seen in the wild or among the enthusiast community.
The Scubapro 200 was sold in two PVD options; black and gold as well as grey. Physical Vapor Deposition, or PVD, is a way of chemically coating the surface of the watch with a thin layer of material, thus making it more durable and scratch resistant. I find the black and gold model to be particularly appealing. In terms of design, and color matching, Scubapro handled this model expertly. The black PVD case features a gold 4 o’clock crown, gold indices, bezel accents, and hands, along with a color-matched black date wheel with gold numbering. It just makes for a solid and cohesive design.
Reference Number: Scubaquartz 40-028-000
Water Resistance: 200 meters
Movement: Quartz ETA 555.112
Lug Width: 21mm
Lug to Lug Measurement: 40mm
In addition to the fantastic aesthetics of this watch, the bracelet is truly something to behold. I have only ever come across two examples of the Scubapro 200, and of those, the example photographed is the only one that I have seen with the original bracelet. This metal band is simply nuts. It is long enough to accommodate virtually any wrist size, yet it is not adjustable in the traditional sense of removing links. Clearly Scubapro had wetsuits and actual diving in mind while creating this piece, as the bracelet can be easily adjusted to fit over bulky dive gear. The bracelet is essentially made to double-over itself and the clasp can be attached to any link as needed. This is a system that I have not seen employed elsewhere, and it makes for a comfortable, unobtrusive, and capable dive watch.
So, if you are in the market for a rapier-thin dive watch that can slip under the cuff or over the wetsuit with the greatest of ease, keep an eye out for this obscure model. As a discerning dive watch fan, make sure that it has the original bracelet as well, and you will not regret it.
What do you think of this mid-eighties quartz diver? Totally rad or a major bummer? What is your favorite scuba-branded dive watch? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Special thanks to @foglark on IG for lending us this watch.