The Titanium Sisters
A milestone’s evolution from form to function
Except for the Aquatimer’s slightly smaller pusher, both clasps are identical in shape and size. The spring loaded locking system has proved to be quite reliable but on a divers watch, an additional flip-lock type latch would give added security. Nobody wants to lose their watch diving 2000 m under sea level!
Side note: When the IWC and Porsche collaboration began, IWC were not doing very well and the introduction of the successful Porsche Design line was a turning point to the better for them. This dependency is subtly visible on the clasp where IWC conceded the signature to the PD logo…
…where on the Aquatimer, the company’s new found confidence is demonstrated by a bold engraving of their own logo.
Significant and I think very necessary changes were made to the bezel. The one on the Ocean 2000 didn’t have any clear markings and thus wasn’t even in accordance with the DIN (German industrial norm) for divers watches. And this on a watch which was issued to the German navy divers!
Again, IWC did away with the design and replaced it with a no-nonsense, much more practical version with clearly readable, embossed numerals. The originality of course, lost out a bit…
…but even then IWC did something special with the bezel. Instead of the black paint which is normally used on divers bezels they seem to have applied some type of tough, baked-in PVD coating.
The theme continues, function replaces form. The 2000’s crown has a very original styling but is a little too small and fine for a sports watch and would be impossible to operate wearing gloves. The Aquatimer’s is much larger and is deeply knurled for a good grip.
On the Porsche Design 2000, the crown was positioned at 4 o’clock where it was possibly protected a little bit better against knocks. IWC moved it back to the conventional 3 o’clock position and didn’t add crown guards which are standard on most divers watches. As the crown is largely dimensioned there is a possibility that it could once receive a hefty blow and get damaged.
The Dials and Hands
My Ocean 2000 is over 10 years old and the tritium on the dial and hands has faded to a nice orange and doesn’t glow very much anymore. It’s been replaced by white Luminova on the Aquatimer but otherwise, the markers and the hands haven’t changed very much. The hands of the Aquatimer are a bit longer and pointed. Unfortunately the nice little red tip on the second hand did not amuse the IWC engineers and had to go but at least the white on black date-ring remains (why is this not standard on all black dialed watches???)
They did allow themselves a slight frivolity by adding a bit of Rolex-style text on the dial. I personally don’t really need to be reminded that my watch is called Aquatimer and that it’s automatic and waterproof to 2000 m every time I look at it but it’s no big deal. Nonetheless both watches have excellent legibility, the dial’s layout is perfect for a diver’s watch.
Simple physics explain why a watch which is waterproof to 2000 m needs a very thick crystal. They’re both domed and 3 mm thick and I’m pretty sure that each of them cost IWC quite a wad of money to have made. The crystal of the 2000 smoothly curves away from under the bezel…
…whereas the one of the Aquatimer stands out for about a half mm before it starts curving and makes itself more prone to chipping.
Both watches are fit with an identical iteration of the ETA 2892. The IWC version has gilded plates and a few of parts are custom-made for them. These divers watches are a perfect place for the 2892 workhorse where it can inconspicuously do what it does best, namely run precisely and reliably without requiring to be fussed over. I haven’t timed either watch for a long time but they both always show the correct time and I don’t bother with seconds. My Ocean 2000 functioned perfectly for 10 years without any type of service and I’m convinced the Aquatimer will continue the tradition.
image courtesy of M. Friedberg
When I saw the Aquatimer at the Basel Watch Fair for the first time I remember being quite disappointed. At first glance it looked just like another Rolex Submariner clone, with it’s black bezel and more conventional case and bracelet. But after viewing the watch many times during the following years it slowly started to grow on me.
IWC were able to build on the already solid technical foundation of the Ocean 2000 and managed to improve it in several areas, namely the bezel and bracelet and overall I feel these changes have resulted in a “better” watch. It’s certainly not the design highlight the Ocean 2000 was when it came out but the watch has some traits that gives it a look which goes beyond the purely utilitarian. It’s become more masculine and has a subtle elegance which becomes particularly apparent in the polished steel version. While I think the Aquatimer is a solid entry to the IWC catalogue I don’t think it will ever become the milestone the Ocean 2000 proved to be.
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