The last several years have been great for Aquastar fans. A consistent flow of hit releases shows that the brand is back on firm footing under the leadership of Rick Marei. Up until now, the watches have utilized an angular skin-diver-style case, and that left us wondering when something different would come our way. Today, with the announcement of the Aquastar Benthos H1, we have our answer.

Aquastar has had great success since its relaunch in late 2020. Models such as the Deepstar, Deepstar II, and the Model 60 have all been met with a high level of fanfare. The aforementioned releases all use a very early ’60s-style case design. So, what happened after this in Aquastar’s history? Well, the brand had several more hits, but perhaps none looms larger than the Benthos. Today’s new Benthos H1 certainly doesn’t follow the exact formula as its historical predecessor, but it’s a seriously cool watch nonetheless. For those wishing for a chronograph version, let’s hope that wish comes true at some point!

#TBT Aquastar Seatime

The original Benthos

Per this informative site by Aquastar enthusiast Dr. Peter McClean Millar, the brand began working on the original Benthos 500 in the mid-’60s. The watch was decidedly different in both its concept and aesthetic from the Deepstar series. The skin-diver case was gone in favor of a more modern C-case design. In 1970, Aquastar launched the Benthos 500 as the reference 1002, and as you can see from the vintage ad above, it stood out in the lineup. Notably, it had a running seconds hand and an orange arrow-tipped hand. Most would assume this was a GMT hand, but it was, in fact, a slow-running 60-minute dive timer. A monopusher at 4 o’clock actuated the timer, which worked like a flyback. A modified A. Schild automatic caliber powered the watch. For good measure, the depth rating was an appropriate 500 meters. This required considerable size, and the Benthos brought it with dimensions of 42mm by 47mm and a 16mm thickness.

The new Aquastar Benthos H1 had a false start

Work began on the new Aquastar Benthos H1 all the way back in 2019. However, there was a bit of a false start with an interesting backstory. I still recall my first travels outside Frankfurt when the world began to restart after the pandemic. I visited a friend in Vienna for work in April 2021, and Rick, who lives in the area, just happened to message me. He had something new, and he managed to have a courier drop off the watch for review. It was what would become the Benthos H1. However, it had a slightly different name that happened to be owned by a certain military power. Short of declaring war and commandeering the protected words, the watch had to go on hiatus. Then, the Deepstar happened, and the Benthos went on hold…for several years!

Now the watch is finally ready, and it has an appropriate name — the Benthos H1. Let’s be clear before fans of the original get too concerned: this watch is not a chronograph. Perhaps it’s best to think of it as a lighter version in the same vein as the Deepstar II. In other words, it is a time-only dive watch. That said, it’s an absolute stonker on the wrist and in the metal. It also serves as a rare case where the on-paper dimensions make for useless reading because it fits beautifully.

Aquastar Benthos H1 case profile

Breaking down the Benthos

The new Benthos H1 is, quite simply, a three-hand dive watch. Visually, though, it has all the trappings of the original Benthos 500 aside from an extra hand and the pusher at 4 o’clock. Instead, we have a signed screw-down crown at 2 o’clock, which certainly differentiates it from most watches. The 904 stainless steel watch carries the same dimensions as its ancestor and has a 42mm diameter (from 3 to 9 o’clock) with a 47mm lug-to-lug distance. The thickness is spot on at 16mm and includes the flush-mounted sapphire crystal. Suitably, Aquastar equips this watch with a black 20mm ISOfrane strap.

As far as diving chops, the watch is water resistant down to 500 meters. A 120-click unidirectional dive bezel with a ceramic insert and luminous scale is there for timing purposes. As far as the dial, it contains aged Super-LumiNova on the indices and hands. You’ll note that there is no date function, which is also consistent with the original. Movement-wise, because work started on this quite some time ago, Rick was able to squirrel away ETA 2824 movements. Do note that the date stop still exists, so changing the time requires an extra pull. The movement sits under a screw-in solid case back emblazoned with the starfish logo and script from the period.

Aquastar Benthos H1

Discussing the design

For fans of dive watches, there’s simply no denying that the original Benthos 500 is a legend of the genre. It was burly, highly functional, and a badass alternative to something like a Submariner. With its C-case design, though, it has never ranked high on my wish list. Granted, watches like this are best seen in person to fully appreciate them, and the Benthos H1 was no exception. I still remember opening the identical, alternatively named piece in 2020, and my concerns immediately faded. This felt like a watch that could survive just about anything. On the other hand, the finishing was (and is) fantastic and very much in line with other modern Aquastar watches.

The glossy ceramic bezel catches the eye, and the lume is like a beacon. Just like the original, the crystal is seriously thick, and it meets a steeply angled rehaut with an alternating black and white minute track. The matte black dial has a mix of printed and applied lume plots, while the printed white font is in keeping with the heritage piece. Altogether, it’s a unique diver among dive watches that I own, and it looks good.

Aquastar Benthos H1 wrist shot

Bold but comfortable

The Benthos H1 boasts bold dimensions, but it’s a pleasantly deceiving watch on the wrist. I credit the short lugs for making this a truly wearable diver. Over two years ago, I wore this watch over a long weekend in Barcelona. Aside from that cheeky feeling one gets from wearing forbidden fruit, I never felt the heft and truly enjoyed it. The pool, the ocean, seafood shanties, etc. — it was the perfect watch for such a vacation. As I said, the finishing and quality felt great, yet it’s this big, hairy kind of diver. Plus, I’ve grown to greatly enjoy the comfort of an ISOfrane strap. In any case, if the thickness has you worried, I never really noticed it. Would it work with a slim-fitting dress shirt? I highly doubt it, but it’s an incredibly fun watch to wear otherwise.

Aquastar Benthos H1 flat

Pricing and conclusions

Due to the semi-niche nature of the Benthos H1, Aquastar will make 500 of these watches available today on its website. All will be individually numbered on the case back. The price will be US$1,090 during the launch period (US$1,390 is the regular price), and shipping should begin shortly after ordering (what a nice holiday gift!). As a bonus, the first 300 people to order will also receive a signed copy of friend-of-the-site Jason Heaton’s first novel, Depth Charge. The main character, Julian “Tusker” Tusk, even wears a Benthos!

Much like the rest of what Rick produces, I am an admirer of this retro-inspired piece. Fans of the original Benthos 500 will either love this because, visually, it looks like the original or may dislike it due to the missing chronograph. I think it’s best to consider the H1 as a cool piece with most of the looks of the original along with modern reliability. From my vintage vantage point, it’s another great release…keep ’em coming!

Watch specifications

Benthos H1
Black semi-glossy with "old radium" Super-LumiNova
Case Material
904 Stainless steel
Case Dimensions
42mm (diameter) × 47mm (lug-to-lug) × 16mm (thickness)
Case Back
Stainless steel, screw-in
Water Resistance
Black 20mm rubber ISOfrane with pin buckle
Time (hours, minutes, central seconds), 60-minute dive bezel (unidirectional with 120 clicks)
US$1,090 (launch price) / US$1,390 (regular price)
One year
Special Note(s)
Limited edition of 500 numbered pieces