No, this is no Aquastar sub-brand. Ardath were a Dreyfuss-owned midcentury watchmaker with eclectic inspiration. The manufacture made classic Roman chronographs, Roskopf movements, Swiss lever three-handers, and even pioneered dual timezone displays in the Long Distance (a watch with one dial sharing two movements, one automatic and one manually wound . . .a bizarre thing look it up). Following trends of the 60s, Ardath starting buying in skin diver cases (from the same casemaker as Aquastar) and manufacturing highly-legible, luminous dials to create the Reefguard line.
Now, if this all seems quite derivative and trend-chasing, it was. But let’s not forget that period unpopularity often breeds latter collectability. This is effectively a generic case with Felsa 4000. However its dial is just fun. Early production Reefguards had what is known as the ‘scuba dude’ at 6. The scuba dude is also accompanied by two fish and a 25 jewel signature and is quite desirable today. There’s a lot going on inside this gilt dial but that’s all the charm. It would be a mistake to take this skin diver seriously. This style of watch was made for weekend freediving and that lighthearted spirit has lived on over a half century.
This example has a strong dial and original handset. Its case is sharp with bezel paint still present. The scuba dude is still very clear as its Ardath’s gilt signature. The hands have slight lume degradation in the hour’s plot but otherwise remarkably intact for their age. Crown is signed and correct. It comes on a new rubber dive strap, recently serviced, from a small English retailer.
Find this Reefguard here from Gungadin Watches for 1675 GBP.