Natural Selection: IWC review Aquatimer new collection

Natural Selection: SIHH 2014 IWC New Aquatimer Collection

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IWC is an iconic brand, and, arguably the best marketer of men’s watches.  They create amazing timepieces and orchestrate precision marketing to match.  I look at all their ranges and have genuine difficulty in deciding which piece I like the most. I love so many other watch brands, but unlike many others, I could (and want) to own all their collections. No other brand does this to me. IWC has six collections, and every year, they launch new revised models in one collection.  Last year (2013) was the Ingenieur range, 2012 was the pilot range and this January they will present the new reinvigorated Aquatimer range. About time too, personally I’ve been waiting for this since the last Aquatimer range was released in 2009.  I never really liked the 2007-2014 edition of the Aquatimer, it somehow missed the mark for me. Perhaps it was the sapphire glass bezel, although practical, it lacked a certain perceived toughness that tool/dive watch (customers) require. Thankfully, I think these new models hit the mark again elevating the reputation of the Aquatimer collection up within the IWC range ranks (still behind Portuguese and Pilot for me though!). Aquatimer’s have a great design handwriting, angled lugs and a simple round dial….it’s the definition of a great dive watch. I think this range gives Panerai and Rolex models a real run, modern yet staying true to some design language dating back to the 60’s.

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Ocean 2000, the new models have taken inspiration from these simple beauty’s 

All the models have various movements. I wont go into too much detail as the in-house movements in the AT’s have been used in other collections. Only thing I will say is that they have used ETA movement on the entry level Aquatimer Automatic to get the price point just like entry level Pilots and Ingenieurs.

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1964 First Aquatimer

A couple of common elements across the models before looking at other individual pieces;

  1. New IWC SafeDive System, this combines internal and external bezel system. This, in my opinion, is the best improvement from the previous range and glad to see AT’s return to an internal bezal. Basically the look of an internal bezel with the easy of adjustment of an external bezel. IF you own a watch (e.g. the AP Diver, or the vintage Aquatimers) you will note how much more trouble an internal bezel is. Being a diver, I feel an internal bezel is just not practical as a dive watch. Normally I adjust timing before deflating BC  on the surface, so as to be accurate with my dive time. But with an internal bezel you have to open the internal crown which exposes the movement to potential water entering the watch.  But, at the same time, some people feel that an external bezel doesn’t look as refined as a internal bezel . Glad to see this new system and keen to try it out. The clutch for the gearing is hidden behind a crown on the left hand side of the watch.
  2. All models continue to use two colors of superluminova, one for dive time (on the minute hand and inner bezel) and another on the hour hand and bezel minute indices. I love this improvement used on the last series as well. Looks awesome at night. And is practical too.
  3. Quick-change system  – introduced in the previous AT’s, this has been improved so that its even easier to change from bracelet to rubber straps giving you a completely new look in seconds.

The line-up;

Aquatimer Deep  3 – Lucky number 3

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Huge piece, 46mm diameter, same as AT 2000 model case size. A lot to like about this piece. I like this piece, I think an aesthetic improvement on the deep 2. Red hands look great with an internal bezal .  Also, its huge size is great for a weekend dive holiday! And before divers out there ask, this is not intended to replace a dive computer, rather act as a back-up…

Technically this is a great piece (expand on depth gauge), the gauge was a first in the deep one and the gauge depth display looks discrete yet clear. One thing I will say as a keen diver, I like depth and time together on a sports watch, but the increments on this model only reach from 12 oclock to 6 oclokc (180degress).  To me it would have been much better and practical to have depth displayed over 360 degrees as on the Deep One (and Citizen Aqualands). I think its important to see meter by meter. That said, its only a backup AND I have not had the pleasure of using the piece, perhaps its much clearer under water with the deep dial/gauge.

Aquatimer Automatic 2000 – fat boy

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Almost a vintage feel, see the vintage aqua timer from 2008

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3 previous generations of Aquatimer, the design writing is consistent

This is a great looking piece, colors have toned down, which we love. More like the vintage edition. Inspired by 1982 Ocean 2000, designed by FA Porsche. The Ocean was the first production titanium dive watch, so the new model is also made of titanium and has 45mm diameter case. Also, it has the WIC caliber 80110 in house movement as well. A solid piece by any measure. Its case is  20.5mm thick, which is thicker than the Rolex DS  (17.68mm)!!

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Check out the case thickness!

Aquatimer Chronograph Galapagos Edition/50 Years of Science for Galapagos – stealth

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Toy or luxury watch??

In line with the previous Galapagos model, these editions have rubber-coated steel case. And practically speaking, this is not just a luxury time piece, it is actually the best material for a tool/dive watch! Any bangs are no problem with rubber, and it can be replaced easily and relatively cheaply compared with steel or ceramic. I don’t know of many other luxury time pieces from reputable brands that use rubber. In line with IWC’s strategy, this is actually a great material for a sports watch. I don’t feel ceramic is any good on a sports watch, it can chip with even a small drop.

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Rubber looks awesome!

The dial has been more streamlined as well with the caliber 89365 movement as used in many of the other new IWC collections (insert pic). And we love the yellow colored second hand. This is actually a real divers watch, so stealth, so navy seal, so awesome. The blue lumed50 Years edition is also very striking, similar with the limited boutique edition Pilot Chrono.

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Edition Expedition Charles Darwin – natural selection

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At first I thought it was gold. Then, after reading, I noted that it was actually bronze! It has been used, IWC say, due to its use on ships of the nineteenth century, a reference to the age when Darwin was exploring the world. How cool is that. I love the Panerai 382 “Bronzo”, it blew the watch world away.

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The great thing about bronze is that it ages quicker than steel. Apparently you’ll notice aging very quickly, within a few months, of owning this bad boy. Aging is not a bad thing, but it will give it a great patina or vanish over time. And bronze can always be brought back to its original state easily, but I love the concept that it will age quickly and have its own individual look. Although, it wont be as durable as steel, you’ll have an awesome piece that no one else has. This is why bronze is so cool. Think of those old diving helmets made of bronze!

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Don’t want to be claustrophobic as an early diver…

Aquatimer Digital Perpetual Calendar – big bad boy

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The size of this watch is nuts. But it looks the bomb. The Digital Perp Calendar is awesome and an amazing complication. I think it looks better than the Ingenieur, gold case is better for a Perp Cal, and the mesh to cover the Month/Date wheel is awes0me, the piece is a show stopper. Just as IWC did last year with the Ingenieur, IWC will place its caliber 89801 automatic movement into an Aquatimer model. This will also be the largest watch of the entire Aquatimer collection and according to IWC the second largest watch the brand has ever produced, being 49mm in an 18k rose gold case with rubber-coated titanium. It will be the Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month (ref. IWC379401), and if unmodified, will have a perpetual calendar display with a digital indicator for the month and date, as well as a chronograph. This model will be a limited edition of just 50 pieces and only dive-themed being water resistant to 100 meters

Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar below;

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Aquatimer Automatic and Chronograph – solid base models

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Simplicity at its best. Vintage yet modern. These pieces are design triumphs. 

At 42/44 mm, these are a great sized watch for most men and will be the volume sellers for the collection. And, the simple dial has been given a nice modern feel, I think they’ve nailed it. A modern twist on the old simple AT dials, exactly what a dive watch should be. Even the sub-dials on the chronographs don’t clutter the dial. If i had to pick one watch of the range to buy, the black dial chrono is probably the one. Taking very serious design direction from earlier models.

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1989 AT 2000m, simple dial the hallmark of the Aquatimer range. Clear handwriting from Porsche Design.

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Jacque C Aquatimer colors are winners, and with the Cousteay Society association to aspire to…

I really like the connection with IWC have with Jacque Cousteau (Society), he is a pioneer of underwater exploration. (FYI the founder of the famous COMEX dive company was a Costeau diver!) The blue dial and orange highlights are awesome. IWC has been a partner of the Cousteau Society since 2004 and has supported the organization in its work to set up marine conservation zones. This is considered to be one of the most effective methods of protecting the fragile underwater world from over-fishing, poaching and environmental destruction. So every time you look at the time you’re reminded of this amazing legacy. I nice thought for a dive watch!

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trademark red….its now back in fashion….  

Only criticism is (on all the new AT models) the left hand side crown. According to IWC it contains gears for the bezal….odd, might have to see inside there before I’m convinced. While it reminds me of a pressure gauge (as on deep one, two, three) for the watch, I’d still like to see this gearing/clutch system they talk of before i accept it on the case. And besides, why does the bezel need to move in 2 directions for a dive watch…..its cool, but perhaps slightly over designed?

I like the hour hand and minute indices are a different lume (superluminova) to the hour hand, same as on the previous generation.  Cool. The black dial is simple and understated but very masculine. The silver has a shine to it that plays well with the steel case. I believe they have used a ETA movement to hit the price point, but apparently IWC spend some time altering and regulating the movements. This is fine by me, the ETA movement is awesome, but some prefer in-house movement which will have a knock on effect for re-sell. 

So, finally I am excited again by the Aquatimer family, well done IWC, first time I honestly want to own all a whole collection.

Marketing. IWC really know their customer well. This is a huge improvement on the last range and needed to give Rolex and Panerai customers something to consider.

The  approximate pricing for the new Aquatimer collection;

Aquatimer Automatic on rubber strap – (~US$6440)

Aquatimer Automatic on bracelet – (~US$7550)

Aquatimer Deep Three – (~US$20,800)

Aquatimer Automatic 2000 –  (~US$11,000)

Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month –  (~US$61,100)

Aquatimer Galapagos Islands – (~US$12,000)

Aquatimer Charles Darwin –  (~US$12,000)

Aquatimer 50 Years Science for Galapagos – 15,300 Singapore dollars (~US$12,100)

One thought on “Natural Selection: IWC review Aquatimer new collection

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