Here is something interesting for the weekly dose of vintage awesomeness also known as Throw Back Thursday or #TBT. This week we drift away from the vintage chronographs that ruled #TBT and jump into the world of dive watches (sorry about the pun). Our subject for this episode managed to fly under the radar for a long time but we feel it’s time to shed some light on the piece and explain just how remarkable it is in the flesh with its rare technical details. So without any further ado please meet our subject: #TBT Aquastar Seatime Ref. 1007.
Aquastar S.A. is one of those brands that you definitely come across if you read more about vintage divers. The Benthos 500 with its outstanding water resistance (yes, it’s 500m) and the Regate, the first yacht timer wristwatch ever are the flagships of the brand. A brand that is actually younger than your average #TBT watch manufacture having been established in Geneva in 1962 as a sub brand of JeanRichard S.A. It still exists – with limited success – today producing quartz yacht timers as well as a cool version of the Regate Timer. After the success of the Benthos and Regate in the 1960’s, Aquastar went on to amaze the watch world with some further technical innovations in the 1970’s. They improved their Regate collection but also introduced another model palette: the Seatime. These watches were water resistant up to 200 meters and had an automatic movement and an inner rotating bezel.
The Seatime family consists of a number of different models. You have the Reference 1000 which was a date model, gold plated or stainless steel cushion shape case, rotating inner bezel, dark blue (some say it’s black), silver or gold dial. The ladies version was the Reference 1004, which was smaller (32mm) than the normal model (40mm) but technically the same as the Ref. 1000. Last but not least we arrived to our watch, the Reference 1007, which has the same physical features are the Reference 1000 but it has a day-date instead of date only. Now that we had a bit of an overview let’s pick up the watch and hold it in our hands.
As I already mentioned, this version is pretty much the most improved out of the three and that is due to the day-date function. I have it on a vintage Tropic Sport strap and with that attached to it the watch feels extremely balanced weight-wise in your palm as well as on the wrist.
Back in the day you could buy it with an NSA metal bracelet too but I’ve yet to come across any. The case is roughly 40mm oval (cushion) shaped kind of like the Omega Seamsater Chronostop minus the extra crowns and pushers.
As this example is pretty original the sunburst finish is still present and strong, the edges are sharp the surface is scratch free. The crown, which has Aquastar’s starfish logo on, is the key to a few cool features I referred to in the beginning of this article.
The bezel is placed around the dial under the crystal, inside the watch. But then how do you rotate it? The crown is not screw-down and there is a reason behind it. If you wind it in the normal, pressed-in position it will turn the bezel bi-directionally. Pretty cool feature and something you rarely see. Pull it out to first position and you can set the day and the date.
The technicality is not over yet. This watch can display the days in 2 languages; English or French. If you choose English set the day to Tuesday for example and the watch will display it and would jump to Wednesday around midnight like it would do normally. But if you fancy the days in French you can pull out the crown screw it a bit until you see the day disc flipping over to the French day of Mardi and then it will keep on in French. In the second position of course you can set the time like you would do normally.
If you flip the watch over again you’ll find the starfish symbol in the middle of the doomed screw-in case back. Around it you can read the brand name “Aquastar – Geneve” and very faintly the serial and the reference number is also visible. That’s it, plain and simple just how a pure diver should have been in the early 70’s.
Dial, hands, bezel and strap
My version has the silver dial, dark blue inner bezel and blue second hand. The color of the dial actually matches the matte polished case perfectly. Indicating the hours you’ll find Tritium filled round raised indexes “Aquastar S.A. Geneve” and the starfish logo just below the 12 and “Seatime” just above the 6. The “T Swiss Made T” frames the index at 6.
The hour and minute hands are stainless steel thick, stick-hands with some luminous paint on them – still working, as they should. The second hand has the same blue tone as the bezel, again a great color combo, just like what we have seen with the dial and the case. At 3 you have the day-date window enclosed by a gentle black hairline frame.
Now onto the bezel. It has an exciting dark blue, almost like steel blue color. The numbers 10-20-30-40-50 are applied metal indexes just like the little squares indicating 5-15-25…and so on. At 12 you have a triangle with some luminous paint in the middle.
I think what would really set the watch off is to swap this black Tropic strap with a dark blue one but on one hand it is pretty much as rare as a hen’s teeth, on the other hand even if you find one it is probably not 19mm which is the strap size of this marvelous watch.
A. Schild Movement
The heart of the Aquastar Seatime is the A.Schild 2066. This is a 17 Jewel automatic movement produced by AS between 1969 and 1978 and it has a great 46 hours of power reserve. The movement was used by brands such as Bulova in their JetStar watch but you will find it in the Alpina President or even some Blancpain models. Not a particularly complicated movement but very sturdy and still easy to service due to large availability of parts and, perhaps, donor movements.
The Aquastar Seatime is not a fancy watch but it’s full of great little features that make it an utterly enjoyable vintage piece. The size of it is just perfect, it sits comfortably even on my largish 7.5” wrist. The watch is thick enough to have a great presence yet you can hide it under a jacket or shirt cuff. But why would you? It’s a lot of watch for the money and whoever is into vintage, but not particularly a diver fan, can enjoy it due to the colors. It does not actually look like a diver but definitely bears the DNA of the brand. The cushion shape case is a personal favorite of mine, something a Mark II or the recently reviewed JetPilot also features. The price of this vintage greatness is way below the price of its Regate brothers and you can pick up a decent example between €300-600. I can but encourage you to look into this brand and other vintage divers; they can offer cool little watches for the money. You never know maybe if the vintage chronograph craze dies out WIS will start to pick up divers. You can thank me then 🙂