Aquastar began as an offshoot, a sub-brand of JeanRichard in the late 50s. As the name very subtly hinted, they meant to appeal to divers. The brand may have quickly gone wayside like so many small names, were it not for the casual purchase by one Jacques Cousteau. The 63 and Deepstar were both used aboard his Calypso vessel and went on to fame. Quite a serendipitous start for the young brand.
Nonetheless, there is real merit to their success. The Deepstar, particularly, is one design that distinguishes itself. This piece sports the 1st execution Valjoux 23 movement, a (for all practical purposes) slightly simpler predecessor to the 72. Aquastar signed their bridges. The 23 served reliably in many guises at that time, but the diving chronograph was a very rare thing then. Bezel rotation was the only mainstream method of dive timing, after Lecoultre’s alarms failed to find adoption. The highly asymmetric big-eye dial is in a class of one, as is the non-circular leftmost register. Some of the detail work Aquastar accomplished went way beyond what was required for a simple tool then, particularly on their crowns and case backs. At 38mm, it remains very adaptable today. One can see why these have found a cult following.
The Deepstar remained in small-number production just over four years, making it one of the rarest references to seek. As a sub-brand model, the Deepstar was produced with dials marked Aquastar, Lorenz, Duward, and JeanRichard. This is a Duward, a Spanish dealer of Aquastar. This piece, rarer still, is signed as a Duward “Rally”. It is estimated that around five of these exist (± 3, record is not what you’d call precise).
The rarity on display here is further emphasized by lovely condition. The dial has faded to warm overtones in the eye, hands, and plots. Indices have move further, towards a pumpkin. A light cracking has starting in the thicker portions of lume application, but it is not substantial. The case shows a few light knocks with no polishing present. The crown, pushers, case, bezel, and all of it are original. Well, except the strap. I think we can overlook that. This example comes from Vision Vintage, a well-respected vintage dealer.
You have to be quite deep down in the dive-collecting hole to consider an Aquastar. But, if you’re on this page, you’re likely right beside me. This is as good as they come. And they don’t come very often.
Find it here (sold) for 13500 EUR.