The “new way” at IWC is to make each year themed. Last year was the year of the Ingenieur while the year before that was year of the pilot watch. 2014 at IWC will be the year of the Aquatimer, so expect to see a fully re-launched collection of some of the nicest high-end tool watches around. Actually, before we move on to discuss a preview of the 2014 Aquatimer watches I want to clarify my previous statement. While for the most part IWC shows the media only pieces of a specific family (i.e. Aquatimer), it isn’t true that they don’t release other new models. Those merely wait until later in the year to be released. Anyhow, back to our excitement over the new Aquatimers. UPDATE: aBlogtoWatch has new 2014 IWC Aquatimer watch information with additional details and models here.
It was back in 2009 that IWC last revisited the Aquatimer, and the collection was nice but a bit controversial. Why controversial? Nothing was wrong with the pieces but some people felt that they were too colorful. Spend time in any tropical place where diving and snorkeling is de rigueur and why things are brightly colored makes sense right away – they just happen to go better with everything else such as the clothing, scenery, and, of course, fish. The only problem is that most people buying high-end dive watches aren’t diving with them most of the time. So, your typical desk diver wants something a bit more elegant and classy.
Now, we don’t have details on the full 2014 Aquatimer collection, but what we have shows a pronounced return to the older style of the Aquatimer that many people seemed to love. In fact, if I could personally sum up the new Aquatimer watches it would be that they combine some old IWC DNA with the most recent Aquatimer generation, and add just a touch of novelty. Overall I think these are going to do very well as the Aquatimer has always been a very versatile watch that has been priced well (and ideally that hasn’t changed).
Fans of the Aquatimer will no doubt see elements both recent and older in the collection. I’d say that while these seem to be a mixture of existing elements, the watches are quite nice. There is even a three-hand model with a vintage-style lume seen on the new Aquatimer. This is a clear homage to IWC’s 2008 “Vintage Aquatimer” collection. Again, I fully expect both the three-hand and chronograph versions to arrive in a range of styles and colors. It would be safe to assume that the case is 44mm wide, and offered in both steel and black vulcanized rubber coated steel. There is clearly an 18k rose gold version that will be available as well as the possibility of titanium models. It has been done before with IWC pieces of this nature, but it has been a little while since we’ve had a nice IWC titanium dive watch.
The cases are water resistant to 2000 meters (200 bar) for the three-hand Aquatimer pieces and less for the chronograph models. Not sure however what the depth rating is for those latter pieces. In either event it is probably more than safe to do most types of diving with both. On the left side of the case appears to be a protuberance. Normally, I would say that this was a crown for the inner rotating bezel, but that isn’t the case here. I suspect that the component is the helium escape valve.
New for the collection, is a inner rotating bezel that is operated by the outer bezel. Very few brands have succeeded in this feature, so while IWC isn’t the first to do it, they are among the few. Perhaps the most successful watch to do it was the ill-fated (but awesome) Eterna KonTiki Diver. This watch was later transformed into the Porsche Design P’6780 Diver after Porsche Design was able to actually sell them… but that is another story. If you don’t understand this feature, it is simple. Like most normal dive watches you turn the rotating bezel to adjust a 60 minute timing scale. Only here the timing scale is represented on the inner bezel. What is so challenging is to design this and retain water resistance. One company that tried and eventually failed in their retail version of the watch was Romain Jerome with the Octopus Diver (prototype). In the final version of the RJ Octopus they had to use a second crown to turn the inner bezel.
The shape and proportions of the new IWC Aquatimer are classy and attractive. It doesn’t scream “new,” but it is fresh and desirable. I know I am waiting to see the version with the white dial (that I hope they make). It appears that all versions make use of black vulcanized rubber over metal. This is a nice feature on a dive watch and makes operating it in the water, or with gloves, easy. There are also a few different strap options it seems. There seems to be at least two rubber straps (one a more traditional style diver’s strap), and, of course, there will be a metal bracelet option.
People tend to buy IWC Aquatimer watches for their dials. They are good-looking and very legible. IWC here plays with a range of colors that match to the case or are a bit playful – though from what we can see, there is much more of an emphasis of conservative-style versus heavy-bright colors. The large, easy-to-see hands are there in their full glory, and I see these being an easy success so long as IWC sticks to their own formula.
Inside these and all previous Aquatimer watches are base Swiss ETA automatic movements. The three-hand models will likely have ETA 2892 automatics, while the chronographs will have base ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph movements (with the subsidiary running seconds removed to make for a more symmetrical case. Overall the 2014 Aquatimer watches are handsome, elegant enough to be worn out of the water, and have just the right amount of vintage minimalism. The level of success will be dependent on the price. Without in-house movements, the Aquatimer has always been a welcomed, affordable IWC model and I hope that it stays that way. Watch for a Hands-On look of the new IWC Aquatimer watches in 2014. iwc.com