The first IWC Aquatimer appeared on the wrists of divers in 1967. It was IWC’s response to the growing demand for dive watches. Now, 50 years later, it has become one of IWC’s more popular collections. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Aquatimer, IWC has released a special limited edition called – deep breath now – the IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer.” To make it stand out even more, it uses an all-new alloy called Ceratanium.
Material innovation has been a popular way for watch brands to distinguish themselves from their competitors, and according to IWC, Ceratanium (ceramic + titanium = Ceratanium) is an alloy that took them five years to get right. The end result is a material that combines the lightness and corrosion-resistance of titanium with the hardness and scratch-resistance of ceramic – which is also pretty light. The innovation and use of Ceratanium are appropriate in another way because they seem to reference the history that in 1982, IWC and Porsche Design worked together to produce the Ocean 2000, the first Swiss-made titanium watch. The honor of the first titanium watch actually goes to Seiko’s Professional Diver’s 600m, but that’s a story for another day.
While Ceratanium certainly sounds cool, we are going to reserve our judgment until we get to handle the actual watch. Combining materials to create new ones isn’t all that new. Hublot has been at it for years, fusing gold and ceramic to create Magic Gold, carbon fiber and aluminum to make Texalium, and magnesium and aluminum to give us Hublonium. Besides, ceramic isn't all that heavy to begin with, so I'm not sure how much it is going to benefit from the blending of titanium or how that will affect the material's look and texture.
The IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer” watch’s Ceratanium case measures 49mm wide and has a matte black finish that IWC says closely resembles ceramic. The watch is not only wide, but measures a hefty 19mm in thickness. For these measurements, a light case material was perhaps obligatory. To match the case, the watch will come with a black rubber strap. Water resistance is 100m, which is adequate for swimming and light scuba diving, and the absolute minimum for calling something a dive watch. I feel that as a member of the Aquatimer collection, the watch should have a higher water resistance of at least 200m, but expensive watches with fancy complications such as this should generally be handled with care anyway.
The IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer” is a perpetual calendar watch with a twist because the date and month are indicated digitally. The leap year indication is shown digitally too, which is unusual. It is also a flyback chronograph with a 12-hour totalizer at 12 o’clock. At 6 o’clock you have a subsidiary seconds dial.
Since this is an Aquatimer, it also features the IWC SafeDive system, which is an ingenious take on the diving bezel. Owners rotate the bezel like they would on a regular dive watch, but thanks to some clever gearing, this causes the internal bezel to rotate.
Powering the watch is the Caliber 89802, which is self-winding, beats at 4Hz, and has a power reserve of 44 hours. IWC has been using the movement for years in other watches such as the IWC Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month that you will notice has a pretty similar dial design thanks to the movement's layout. The movement is visible through a sapphire display caseback and some components, like the rotor and certain bridges, have been blackened to match the black case.
All things considered, the IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer” is a fitting celebratory piece for the Aquatimer’s 50th anniversary. The use of Ceratanium is apt, considering IWC’s history with titanium and ceramic, and the watch is pretty cool after all. That said, having a perpetual calendar complication in a dive watch is a tad unnecessary, because unless you are Namor the Sub-Mariner, how many people are going to be staying so long in the water that need to tell what day it is? The IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer” is limited to only 50 pieces and is priced at $46,800. iwc.com