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IWC Aquatimer

When a company breaks new ground, it can lead to real success. With the Aquatimer Collection, IWC are expertly proving this.  More

IWC Aquatimer
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For more than 50 years of production, IWC Schaffhausen has managed to strike a balance between consistency and innovation with the IWC Aquatimer. The biggest change in the design of the IWC Aquatimer took place at the end of the 1960s, when a more angular shape was chosen for the case. Since the 90s, this shape was abandoned and the original shape of the first model from 1967 was adopted again.

Pre-owned vintage IWC Aquatimer watches

The high technical standard and the willingness to constantly work on improving their own models make IWC Schaffhausen a company that likely has a few surprises in store for the future. The fact that the prices of a pre-owned IWC Aquatimer decrease due to the many new models released is, however, a common misconception. The classics of the series are extremely popular with collectors. Aquatimer models are considered to be "keepers", i.e. watches that the owners keep for themselves and which are rarely found as vintage pieces on the pre-owned watch market.

IWC Aquatimer IW378201 divers watch with steel case, blue dial and black rubber strap

Technology of the Aquatimer watches

The movements of the Aquatimer have constantly been improved and designed to meet increasingly demanding tasks. At this stage, we would like to give a special mention to the Pellaton Winding System, which is named after its inventor, the technical director of the Schaffhausen manufactory. In this rotor, an eccentrically mounted disc drives the rotational movements, as they are generated by the movement on the arm of the watch wearer, into back and forth movements like a seesaw. These movements are then transmitted to the winding wheel by two rollers. This means that even the slightest movement can be used to apply force to the spring. This patented process is still state-of-the-art 60 years on and is used in models by Patek Philippe and Seiko among others.

IWC Aquatimer models and prices

  • The sporty look of the IWC Aquatimer (Ref. IW378203) exceeds all expectations. With a stainless-steel case and a rubber strap, this timepiece is prepared for any eventuality. The chronograph's blue dial also displays the date and day of the week and features an inner bezel. For €4,370, you can see the qualities of this watch for yourself in no time.

  • Somewhat more classical is the Aquatimer (Ref. 812AD) with a 37 mm steel case on a brown leather strap. Two crowns on the right side of the case allow you to adjust both the time and the inner bezel. For a vintage 1970 model, be prepared to pay €14,000.

  • For those who like something a little more colourful, then take a look at the Aquatimer Chronograph (Ref. IW376704). The dial and bracelet are in blue, while the graduated blue and orange bezel catches the eye. With the original box and papers, this Aquatimer Chronograph costs €3,710.

  • With the Aquatimer Chronograph (Ref. IW376905) IWC offers a slightly more eccentric diving watch. The sporty character of the diver's watch is a perfect match for the rose gold of the case and is even more noticeable against the black rubber strap. If you're looking for a diving watch that you can wear out with the depths of the ocean, you can purchase this special model for €13,500.

  • Another watch that is particularly worthy of an investment is the IWC Aquatimer (Ref. IW378201). This "Cousteau Divers Tribute to Calypso Limited Edition" pays tribute to the Calypso, probably the most famous research vessel, and its captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau. The case back of this model is fitted with a small wooden disc made taken from the Calypso. This feature makes this 2500-piece limited edition to a coveted and sought-after rarity. In good condition, this impressive timepiece will cost you €6,350.

  • The Aquatimer Chronograph (Ref. IW376805) is another style than pays tribute to the legendary Jacques-Yves Cousteau. His portrait adorns the case back, marking his achievements as captain of the Calypso. The 44 mm chronograph is also a quintessential diver's watch. With a water resistance of up to 300 metres, an inner bezel and a rubber strap, the IW376805 model leaves no doubt about its capabilities. For €5,120, this watch can be yours in no time.

  • The smallest model in IWC's diving watch family is the Aquatimer Automatic (Ref. IW329002). The design is a combination of elements from the first Aquatimer model from 1967 and the Ocean 2000 from Porsche Design. The diving related displays of this watch come with a Super-LumiNova luminous coating. Like all newer Aquatimer models, the Automatic has an external-internal rotating bezel and is equipped with the IWC SafeDive system. For the bracelet you can choose between a rubber and a stainless steel.

  • With clear lines, a stainless-steel case and a sporty rubber strap, the Aquatimer Automatic (Ref. IW329001) is a classy looking style. With a 42 mm case diameter and an automatic calibre, this Aquatimer model offers a water resistance of up to 300 metres, luminescent hands and indices and a date display at 3 o'clock.

IWC Aquatimer 812AD automatic watch with steel case and dark brown leather strap

The history of IWC diving watches

The first time IWC attracted attention was in 1936. It was back then that the company launched the first wristwatch specifically designed for pilots. Looking at the history of large companies, you can often see that they never rest on their laurels though. The advantageous location of the production site on the Rhine inspired IWC's engineers and designers to expand the product range to include diving watches such as the IWC Aquatimer.

The first known design drawings of the model can be traced back to 1966. In 1967, the first Aquatimer from IWC was presented at Baselworld. This new model impressed with two special features: the Aquatimer was water-resistant up to 200 metres and had an inner bezel under the glass of the dial. In addition to being able to precisely determine the diving time, there was no longer any danger of water leaking through the outer bezel into the inside of the watch. Furthermore, the Calibre 8541 provided a high-performance drive mechanism. This and its successor, the Calibre 8541B were used in all Aquatimer models for the first 20 years, which corresponds to a total number of about 160,000 units. It’s no wonder that some experts call this movement one of the best Swiss movements ever made. Despite this great success initially, IWC had already decided to radically change the design of the Aquatimer by 1968. From then on, the models became Ref. 816AD and had cushion-shaped cases.

Then in 1974, the next reform happened: from this point onwards, the Aquatimer became Ref. 1816. The colour scheme of the models was radical: the main colours were red and blue shadow that merged into black around the outside of the dial. The professional diving watches on the other hand, still came with a black dial. The maximum water resistance also increased to 30 bar, which corresponds to a water column of about 300 metres. It was these consistent and specialised designs that helped IWC through the quartz crisis, when the market was flooded with cheap quartz watches. Never willing to sit back, the Ocean 2000 was then created in collaboration with Porsche Design. This was a highly specialised watch with a water resistance of 2000 metres.

In 2008, a new model of the Aquatimer was released, with the inner bezel back underneath the glass. This was the prelude to the launch of a vintage collection. In 2014, IWC presented additional new models in the Aquatimer collection. There was an Aquatimer watch with a perpetual calendar and a model called Deep Three, which has a spring membrane that measures the water pressure and provides information about the dive depth and dive time. These models, which were instant diver’s watch classics, also have an external-internal rotating bezel to prevent accidental adjustment of the bezel.

The Aquatimer Automatic IW329001 is the latest addition to the collection and has hands and indices coated with luminous paint to provide optimum readability even in poor lighting conditions. The short intervals between which new models have been released might suggest that IWC have far from finished their journey through the depths of the oceans through this model.

Discover the world of IWC collections

  • With the Pilot's Chronograph, the focus is on clarity and excellent readability under all visibility conditions. The extremely robust Calibre 79320 allows you to track time periods of up to 12 hours. In addition, the watch is protected from interference by magnetic fields thanks to a soft iron inner case.

  • The Portuguese Chronographs are undoubtedly the most sought-after models in the Portuguese collection from IWC. It was the first watch that could not only display the time but stop it as well. Its moderate case size of 41 mm makes it an interesting alternative, especially for watch fans with slightly narrower wrists.

  • The Portofino Automatic convinces with its reliable mechanical automatic movement and very slim body. Its simple design and moderate price make it a great entry-level model that can be combined with various styles.

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