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Thread: Aquastar Benthos 500

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    Aquastar Benthos 500

    For years, I have always admired the Aquastar Benthos dive watches. So I wanted to type up an informational thread on the model and provide some photos for others to learn along with me …

    Aquastar was formed in 1962 by Frédéric Robert. The company originally specialized in diving watches, as well as other equipment for diving such as compasses, temperature and pressure gauges. The first Aquastar diving watch, which this post will focus on, was called the “Benthos 500”. The source of the name of the watch was from the Greek word for the “bottom of the sea” and the depth rating for the watch, which was 500 meters. The depth rating for the Benthos 500 was quite significant at the time of its release, as it was the first diving watch to be pressure tested to a rating of 500 meters. This was accomplished through the utilization of rounded o-rings as opposed to the traditional flat o-rings that had been previously utilized. This was patented by Aquastar and helped to significantly improve the water resistance of the watch. Below are a few period advertisements from the brand, which include the Benthos:

    The Benthos 500 model was produced between 1962 and 1972. Over these years it was produced in different variations, with black and blue dials as well as corresponding bezel inserts. In addition, there were also different versions of the dial with slightly different layouts, such as the inclusion of “SA” beneath the Aquastar logo at 12 as well as a slightly different placement of the “Swiss Made” designation at 6 on the dial. There are other differences too, such as case width and crown types…but that is well beyond the scope of this brief post…Below are a few photos from the net that show the different versions of the Benthos 500 models that were produced:

    On top of the visual differences, there were also mechanical differences over the years for the Benthos 500. The watch utilized two separate movements over its production run, both of which were modified to accommodate the watch’s minute timer complication (big orange arrow hand) – the A. Schild 1902 and A. Schild 2162. Both are 17 jewel movements, but operate at different rates (21,600bph vs 28,800bph, respectively).

    Okay, I bet you are wondering what the big orange hand and extra button at 4 o’clock is for…I know I was! It is basically a timer! The timer is started using the pusher, which when pressed returns the minute counter hand back to the 12 o’ clock position. Basically, a diver uses the timer in combination of the bezel ring and this minute counter to time the dives.

    One interesting note on Frédéric Robert… He did not stay with Aquastar for very long. In 1970 he moved to Omega and became an advisor in the development of the Seamaster models. The Aquastar brand, however, still does survive until this very day, but mainly only produces digital regatta watches... are some photos of my Benthos 500, which is currently with Jack at IWW getting a service and dial/hand work done:

    Last edited by Andrema; Nov 24, 2014 at 12:48 AM.

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    One thing that I wanted to mention. If you are interested in obtaining a Benthos 500, you should pay close attention to the bezel, crystal and timer functionality.

    The bezel and crystal are close to impossible to source, so you need to be okay with the condition of the ones that are on the watch that you are purchasing. The bezel can be replaced by a Seiko insert, but then you are dealing with a Frankenwatch at that point...and a new crystal can be made by someone (such as ABC Watchwerks), but that is an expensive proposition

    The timer hands on these watches are their Achilles' tendon! Ask the seller if it functions properly!! If not, the movement will need to be serviced...Jack at IWW has done a ton of these!

    Good luck!!!

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    The Dude Abides Nokie's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Northern CA
    Nice post. Very informative reading on a watch I never knew existed.
    "Either He's Dead, Or My Watch Has Stopped....."
    Groucho Marx

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    Watch Geek T Bone's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Metro Detroit
    That is a great and very informative post, thanks for sharing the WISdom!
    Regards, T Bone

    Even a broken watch shows correct time once or twice a day. I ought to know, I have a few!

  7. #5
    Thanks guys, my pleasure!

  8. #6
    That's about as serious of a dive watch as I've seen. Real functionality.

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    Member DM71's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    Québec, Canada
    Well done! great info on one of the nicest vintage diver you can find!

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

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    A Real Boy SteamJ's Avatar
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    Nov 2014
    New Yorker transplanted to Texas
    I've seen these and admired them from afar but never knew the history of the brand. Thanks for the write-up. They're very cool watches.

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