IWC Aquatimer Watch Review

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Gorgeous, isn't it? This is the IWC Aquatimer 2000, reference 3568-02. Introduced in 2009, the 3568 (the 02 suffix denotes the rubber strap version) replaces the internal-bezel 3548 model. Bolder in design, the 3568 retains the ETA-based 30110 movement (2892-A2 base), but upgrades to a sapphire-coated conventional bezel with spectacular six-layer underside SuperLumiNova. It's also available with bracelet, a white-dial version, and a limited edition with orange-on-white.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The main crystal is domed and anti-reflective on both sides, but the bezel is mirror flat and un-coated, which makes for interesting reflections and highlights. I love the idea of putting lume on the underside of the bezel; that combined with the durability of sapphire makes a bezel that'll remain shiny new for the life of the watch. Brilliant! Even better than the non-lumed Rolex and Omega ceramic bezels. As an aside, there are a handful of other watches with lumed sapphire bezels if you like the look - Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Omega Ploprof, Bremont Supermarine, and I wouldn't be surprised if others went this route at Basel 2010 and beyond.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Other than the eye-catching yellow, the case and watch are remarkably low-key, with predominantly brushed finishing and a lack of reflective surfaces. In person, it's startlingly low-key due to the mostly-black dial and bezel, and has drawn few if any comments. As you see here, IWC doesn't put crown guards on their divers, which is one of my reservations about the design. I have a friend who lost the screw-down crown and case tube on his Fortis to the strap of a falling carry-on bag, so I would assume this to be less durable than a recessed or guarded crown. An odd design decision on a watch rated to over a mile of depth! (2000m). IWC, rather than adding a helium escape valve, simply designs their divers to cope with a negative pressure rating. A superior piece of engineering for the saturation diver.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The simple caseback shows the other design feature I dislike - the quick-release strap and bracelet system. Unlike almost every other watch out there, the Aquatimer series use a lever-release system that IWC licensed from Cartier. It's really cool, requiring just the tip of a finger to release, but since it's proprietary the only place in the world outside of IWC that makes straps is the very expensive ABP of Paris. Having emailed ABP, their least expensive strap to fit would start at 250 Euros... wow. That's still much cheaper than IWC, though, who want $360 for a Velcro strap, $400 for the rubber and a rumored $1500 for the bracelet! IWC has done proprietary lugs since the iconic 3536 diver, though the design has changed with each generation, so it obviously makes sense to them. So while the system works well and is certainly convenient, it does make purchasing your own straps, or replacements straps and bracelets very expensive.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

It's a nice rubber strap and buckle, but $400? I've got the Velcro on order, from what I can tell it allows the use of normal 19mm straps, and am keeping an eye out for a used bracelet. It's a serious caveat and cost, so if you buy one keep it in mind. I will say that the rubber is superbly comfortable, which is very important because this is a large, heavy watch: 44mm by 14mm, 145g. Despite all of that mass, it's super comfortable on my 7.25" wrist and I've worn it to run, cycle, swim and sleep.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
Due to the caseback shape, it sits quite low and comfortable on the wrist, and doesn't flop around like some taller watches I've worn. The double AR and domed crystal combine for stupendous visibility at a wide range of angles. You can also see that IWC uses a vertical black flange ringe; functional and invisible. The angled 'ROLEXROLEXROLEX' on current Rolex models for example is one of my pet peeves of flange ring design. Not an issue here on this IWC.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
The 14mm height is reasonably shirt-friendly, and since the strap is plain-surfaced you can get away with wearing it with dress shirts.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews
The bezel is 60-click, which is kind of annoying in a minor way, and could use a bit more surface roughness when wet. The movement is a Top-grade ETA 2892, with unknown changes from IWC. According to other reviewers, it's hand-adjusted and mine is certainly the most accurate mechanical watch I've had, running +2 seconds per day, no matter what. Winding is so smooth that it's actually hard to discern, and the crown threads are easy to engage and butter-smooth. (Nicely signed crown, too.)

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Notice here the perfect edges and finish on the hands and applied markers, the dual-level date window bevel and split minute ring. Also see the two-color second hand and subtle 'Swiss made' inset into the minute markers. Really nice and well thought out design here. Note also the subtle use of 'signal yellow.' The tip of the second hand, '2000 meters' text, minute markers too and the minute hand matching the bezel. Not sure what I think of the retro font on the lower half of the dial, but it works as a piece.

IWC Aquatimer Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Luminosity is, well, amazing. It's not as bright as some Seiko's lume, but the dual-color scheme and glowing bezel come alive in the dark. It makes the watch seem larger at night, since you don't normally see the bezel. Since I've a new daughter, I can testify that it's visible at any hour of the day or night, and that the lume rocks. On the minus side, the second hand is only a tiny triangle of lume at the very tip, and is quite hard to spot. I think that this is a modern classic. Bold assertion, but the design is functional, original and confident without the bling or being too large. Adding a sapphire bezel and AR on the crystal greatly improve usability, and the 2892 is a killer movement. Retail price for this version is $4,400. Add a thousand or so for the bracelet and it goes up to a retail price of $5,400 - which I'd look for if I were buying one today. Look around for what you can fine. There are a few color variations, and the piece is also offered in chronograph form. I have no hesitation about recommending the IWC over a Submariner or Planet Ocean. This is a fantastic watch, full stop.

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (2)
  • I love it! (1)
  • Interesting (0)
  • Classy (0)
  • I want it! (0)
  • Wow, I really like the looks of this watch and the lume looks fantastic.

    I also think that putting the lume and ‘text’ under the sapphire on the bezel is a stroke of brilliance. My only concern would be the chance that the sapphire bezel cover could come off, be shattered or cracked. As a person who is not always the kindest to their watches, this would be a concern.

  • Kris C.

    I’ve always been a big IWC fan, but this one is a bit of a snoozer. The tags on this one are confusing – there are other watches withthe same movement for a fraction of the price, but no, they are not IWC. The tab-release straps are cool, but do they really drive up the price that much? A plain black tang rubber strap is $400? Yikes.
    That lume shot is really cool, I would compare it to the lume on my Seiko Monster and Neo, by this photo anyway, and I assume that well charged the lume sticks around for a good amount of time. But at the end of the day, once you witness email luminescence in all it;s glory, nothing else really compares.

    Again, I love IWC, but I’d pass on this offering.

  • Dangeruss

    I think you have to look at this one for what it is. It’s a sporty watch with a big pricetag and some impressive specs. It will be bought and worn by those who want to cultivate a certain image, and I bet that most will never see any sport diving use, much less any saturation diving use. The dive computer has rendered the dive watch functionally obsolete. So, as a fashion piece, it’s a bit of a yawn. The proprietary strap attachment marries you to the maker for replacments and greatly limits your options.

    The lume is awesome looking, but so is the lume on a Steinhart Triton, for 1/10th the cost and a 1000m depth rating. I’m even sort of an IWC fan-boy, but I’d pass on this one.

  • witch watch

    Another IWC fan here and yet another fan of the lume under bezel that this watcg has. However everytime i see this in pics i totally love it only to be underwhelmed by it’s blandness when i see it up close even with the nice colour schemes used. It just does not have that specialness that a Sub has an i’m not the type to whole hype of that particular watch.

  • Ivan Y

    Ariel — how does this watch compare to GO Sport Evo Panadate or Bremont Supermarine?

  • Rich B

    I just bought the same watch today. I love it. No complaints. Great review also..

    • Glad you like it. We are all jealous of Paul and his new wrist buddy.

  • Paul F

    Great looking watch. I have to agree about the flange ring . Keep it low key or practical. Rolex only cheapens the look of their watches. Its a Rolex for Gods’ sake.

  • Adam

    Always been a big fan of IWC but this watch leaves me a bit confused. The lack of a crown guard is odd and detracts from it’s authenticity as a proper dive watch. It feels quite balanced in the wrist for sure but overall I prefer the GP Sea Hawk 11’s functionality myself.

  • 100thMonkey

    This wasnt warmly welcomed when it was first released 2 years ago but it has grown to be what is fast becoming the watch to own and a classic, it competes against a Rolex Sub and Omega Planet Ocean and whilst the Rolex Sub is a classic its on everyone wrist and quite dull really! The PO is a great great watch but the IWC takes all the clear pure qualities of both and adds a refreshing splash of colour to make it stunning, add in the depth rating which makes it ‘harder & stronger’ than both the PO & Sub and its the natural winner. Its a thinking mans watch so dont follow the crowd be a little different.

    • Kenny N

      I agree…I just purchased this watch. Part of what drew me to it is that it IS in fact unique. I originally intended to purchase was a different timepiece. Once I put this one on I knew the clean simplicity of it was what I wanted. Who wants a piece that everyone has?!

      • Simon

        I totally agree with you both.
        This watch DOES take all qualities of both watches and adds even more.

        I will buy this one as soon as I’ve sold my current diver.

        And thank you OP for a great post/review.

        • Our pleasure Simon.

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  • Jim

    I hesitated for months because of the somewhat unusual bezel and to be honest the font of the numbering, but now that it is sitting on my wrist I love it. I have to say the lume is amazing. The “wow” factor is there, this is a very sporty watch. But the thing that I really appreciate is this big thick watch sits on your wrist and you don’t know it’s there. It is balanced. Much more so than my Panerai, even more than my much smaller Submariner.

    Sporty, great lume, it made me lose interest in the Blancpain, which I just tried on yesterday.

    • Great, enjoy Jim!

  • john yong gee

    I bought my Aquatimer 2000 about 3 months ago and still love staring at the face. It is such a beautiful watch with a quality finish. The rubber strap feels more comfortable than the steel bracelet and is a lot lighter. I personally feel that the smooth rubber on the outside looks nicer than the waffle effect as in the catalog.
    The sapphire bezel is a nice idea but I have seen one crack and I heard the repair was really expensive as it had to be replaced.
    A very accurate watch as well.
    Big watch but big watches are in fashion.
    Nice strap design makes the thick 14mm watch sit really comfortably on the wrist.
    Hands (hours, minutes as well as seconds) all look great!

  • Pete Saunders

    I bought mine when it first came out and when many were complaining about the color scheme and it looking like a Seiko. I never thought either and always thought it was a simple sturdy watch but also an eye catcher. Others now seem to be agreeing with me.

    I have owned several large watches (Panerias included) and a few IWCs, and I can testify that this is my number one watch for accuracy. 1-2 seconds per day since day one. Amazing! And yes, it fits cleanly and holds well on the wrist for its size. Most of the time I never even know its there. The 2000 is completely rugged too. Wear it every day to work and it still looks almost brand new. A worthwhile investment IMO.

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  • Aalvaradom

    And what about the vintage aquatimer version? It has an inhouse movement and the design is really classic. The only proble is finding one as thye discontinued this version

  • rob in Sydney

    Had one for 3 years, when the inside of the bezel started to rust and the waterproofing seal wore out.  After 3 years, and not even any diving?  Would not recommend based on IWC’s poor post sales service, and refusal to stand behind the quality of the workmanship.  Falls behind my Rolex and Breguet.

  • PunditPunter

    rob in Sydney

  • PunditPunter

    rob in Sydney

    Cool story, bro. Stainless steel doesn’t rust without prolonged
    abuse. It’s no different on IWC or Rolex or Breguet or a $150 Seiko. 
    Water resistance is guaranteed for 12 months on most dive watches, but I guess you didn’t know that.

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