The IWC Aquatimer is a range of divers’ watches produced by the venerable Swiss luxury brand based in Schaffhausen. The first Aquatimer model (Reference 812AD) was released in 1967 at a time when scuba diving was becoming increasingly popular. This IWC watch included an inner rotating bezel and was water resistant to 200 metres.
In 1982, IWC worked closely with Porsche Design and released the Ocean 2000 (Reference 3500), which depicted both companies’ brand names on the dial. The timepiece was unusual as it was the first serially produced diver’s watch with a titanium case. Moreover, the watch was water resistant to 2000 metres, hence the name of the timepiece. Titanium offered an array of benefits to the wearer, including low mass and corrosion resistance.
The GST sports watch collection was released in 1997. This range of timepieces included complicated models such as the GST Chrono Rattrapante (Reference 3715) and the GST Perpetual Calendar (Reference 3756). The collection of models also included the GST Aquatimer Automatic (Reference 3536), featuring a titanium case and water resistance to 2000 metres.
In 1999, IWC showed its ingenuity once again by releasing the GST Deep One (Reference 3527). This watch was equipped with a mechanical depth gauge, housed within a titanium case; it stylishly blended black, white and yellow dial detail to handsome effect.
IWC revisited the Aquatimer collection in 2004 and subsequently in 2009. The changes made in 2009 were particularly significant. The case dimensions grew, meeting the increased demand for larger watches, and the external rotating bezel featured for the first time. The Aquatimer Chronograph (Reference 3769) was the first IWC diver’s watch presented in a noble metal, 18-carat red gold. All versions of the Aquatimer collection released in 2009 incorporated a user-friendly ‘quick-change system’ for the bracelet.
The Aquatimer Deep Two (Reference 3547), also released in 2009, was the spiritual successor of the GST Deep One. The watch incorporated a refined version of the mechanical depth gauge and was offered with a choice of stainless steel bracelet or rubber strap. The stainless steel case measured a sizeable 46mm in diameter.
A culture of continuous improvement is clearly part of the IWC paradigm, because, in 2014, the Swiss watch company revisited the Aquatimer collection once again. On this occasion, the biggest single change was to the bezel.
The new IWC SafeDive system allows the wearer to turn external bezel anti-clockwise causing the internal bezel to rotate. However, should the wearer turn the external bezel clockwise, an ingenious clutch system inside the case disengages, ignoring the input and preventing the wearer inadvertently lengthening the dive time indicated.
IWC also followed the trend started by sister-brand Officine Panerai with its Bronzo model, by releasing a version of the Aquatimer in an unusual bronze case, the Aquatimer Chronograph “Expedition Charles Darwin” (Reference 3795).
The release of the Aquatimer Deep Three (Reference 3557) completed IWC’s trilogy of models equipped with mechanical depth gauges. The styling was updated and the timepiece was housed in a titanium case, in common with the GST Deep One.
The IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Digital Date-Month represented a departure from conventional divers’ watches. This timepiece included a complicated perpetual calendar movement with an 18-carat red gold case, equipped with an exhibition case back. The unusual combination of conventional hands with digital date-month display was first seen in 2012 with the launch of the IWC Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. However, the 89801 calibre, in this guise, exhibits a very different character, courtesy of its larger 49mm case diameter and overtly modern appearance.