Winter Kayaking In The Glacial Waters Of Lake Brienz With DOXA’s SUB 200
There is only one way to truly test a sports watch, and that is to take it out into the elements for a real adventure.
Kayaking is not a sport normally associated with the winter months, but with the right equipment, it can be exhilarating. Even more so, when the snow hangs on the mountains and the wind howls.
A Day On Switzerland’s Lake Brienz
Lake Brienz is to the north of the Alps in the canton of Bern. It measures 14km (8.7 miles) by 8km (1.7 miles) and is 260 meters (858 feet) deep. Fed by two rivers from glaciers high in the mountains, the water is cold, really cold. These glacial rivers also bring large amounts of minerals into the lake that reflect the light, making it a spectacular shade of turquoise.
I went there with Watchonista’s contributing photographer, Laurent-Xavier Moulin, to test two timepieces, the DOXA SUB 200 and the DOXA SUB 200 T.GRAPH, while kayaking in these pristine waters. It is one thing to admire a timepiece from the comfort of your office, and quite another to take it out to play. So, when the opportunity arose to go winter kayaking, I knew immediately which watches I wanted to take.
DOXA’s SUB 200 And SUB 200 T.Graph
I chose DOXA’s SUB 200 with a turquoise dial, and Moulin took the brand’s SUB 200 T.GRAPH with an orange dial. The bold colors of the dials were the perfect match for kayaking with the brightly colored boats, drysuits, and life vests. It was almost as if the watches were made for the sport.
Hightide Kayaking School, Bönigen
Having no previous kayaking experience, we put our lives in the hands of Maria Mäenpää, a professional kayaking guide from the Hightide Kayaking School in Bönigen. We get kitted out in some serious drysuits and entirely water-resistant shoes (I know this because, later in the day, Moulin went waist-high into the water to take some of these pictures). We then put our life vests on and headed down to the water’s edge.
Don’t Rock The Boat
I was quite surprised to learn that you don’t need to know how to swim for kayaking because the life vest keeps you above water. I felt reassured, but only for a short moment as stepping into the kayak, I quickly realized just how unstable these things are. Moulin, who previously declined all offers for waterproof protection for his camera equipment, suddenly had Mäenpää running back to the school for a dry bag. This was going to be more challenging than we anticipated.
Bring On The Weather
Mäenpää gave us a few tips: we were to use our abs, legs, and feet, not so much our arms. I wasn’t sure I was doing it right, but after a while, I started to feel the boat stabilize beneath me. I could see Moulin was feeling more confident, too, as his camera was now out of his bag. We paddled around, getting the hang of things when the mirror-flat water suddenly started to ripple frenetically. I turned towards Mäenpää, who was now looking concerned at some ominous cumulonimbus clouds rolling off the mountain. We were in the middle of the lake, and within seconds the wind was roaring down the valley. Mäenpää told us to put the noses of our kayaks into the wind and paddle fast.
Sitting Out The Storm
We headed for the shore and took a break for some tea and biscuits under a makeshift shelter. Within 15 minutes, the storm passed, and we set out again, appreciating the calm even more than before. We glided across the water, and I took a moment to admire the DOXA SUB 200. At 42mm, this was a good-sized watch for a woman’s wrist, but it was surprisingly comfortable. The small links of its “beads of rice” stainless-steel bracelet allowed it to hug even the smallest wrists.
The DOXA SUB 200 With Turquoise Dial
The DOXA SUB 200 was unveiled at Baselworld last year, and it caught my eye back then. I chose the turquoise dial, as I have always loved the color, and it was the perfect color for the glacial waters of Lake Brienz. It is also available with an orange, black, or yellow dial.
The timepiece is a three-hand divers’ watch that has a water-resistance of 200 meters, making it rough and tough enough for any water activity. The dial is covered with a domed scratch-resistant sapphire crystal, reminiscent of the plexiglass protection used in divers’ watches from the past. It features a unidirectional rotating bezel, an ETA 2824-2 automatic movement with a 38-hour power reserve, and a user-friendly folding clasp that felt very secure.
The DOXA SUB 200 T.Graph
The DOXA SUB 200 T.GRAPH is a re-edition from 1969 that was a reference in the field of divers’ watches at the time. The brand unveiled an 18-karat gold version first and is now presenting this limited edition of 300 stainless-steel timepieces. It comes in a 43mm case and features the patented unidirectional rotating bezel with the dual indication of dive time in minutes and depth time in meters, to calculate the dive time without decompression stops. The semi-matte orange dial features two chronograph counters — one at nine o’clock for the seconds, and the other at three o’clock for the minutes.
Horological enthusiasts will love the movement in the SUB 200 T.GRAPH with its historical 7734 Valjoux movement. These original calibers date back over 30 years, and they were preciously preserved by the Jenny family when they took over DOXA’s reins over two decades ago. Each movement is completely refurbished, so it is totally reliable for today’s adventures.
We continued to paddle around the lake, passing churches and a castle on the mountainside. The clouds started to disperse, and the late afternoon sun brought out the colors of the lake and our brightly colored equipment. The serenity of being on the water was just magical. There is no better way to appreciate a lake than by taking to the water, and now that I think about it, there is no better way to appreciate divers’ watches like these DOXAS either!
All The Details
(Photography by Laurent-Xavier Moulin)