A redesigned IWC Aquatimer watch collection made its debut at the 2009 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie show in Geneva this past week. The most noticeable change to this excellent collection of luxury divers is in the unidirectional bezels, which are now of the conventional external type a la the Rolex Submariner or Blancpain Fifty Fathoms watch.
I have to say, I was surprised to see these changes. After all, IWC Schaffhausen – a watch brand noted for going that “extra mile” in engineering – made a name for itself with dive timepieces featuring the sophisticated crown-operated time lapse bezel.
Like most things, IWC’s changes to the Aquatimer watch line bring potential pros and cons, depending upon ones priorities and preferences. The external rotating bezel has not earned its place as the “design of choice” for dive watches (from many brands) over the decades for no reason – its straightforward, and time-proven. Hardcore divers, who rely on their mechanical watch as an essential backup tool, may find the change beneficial. On the other hand, the crown operated internal bezel of the outgoing Aquatimer watch is uniquely IWC, and has a sleek, sophisticated aspect that is very, very appealing. The most cynical critic would say that the IWC Aquatimer collection just became mundane.
That’s overly harsh, in my opinion. The new designs are extremely appealing to the eye – if more conventional – and flipping the coin upside down, I’d say the lack of the extra crown makes the new Aquatimer watches look a bit less busy. On the “cool engineering” front, connoisseurs will surely be happy to see the IWC mechanical depth gauge return in the Aquatimer Deep Two watch – a much-awaited horological sequel to the sophisticated, but short lived IWC Deep One.
The choices are clear, and decidedly pleasant: If you already have an IWC Aquatimer model with internal bezel, hang on to it. If you don’t, but enjoy the design of the outgoing models, it’s the perfect occasion to get a soon-to-be dive watch classic. And, if you’re like me and really like the appearance of the new model, it’s time to savor that delicious anticipation of acquiring a great sports watch a few months from now.