A trend is emerging at IWC: the prestigious Swiss watchmaker is infusing its core collections with in-house movements. The brand’s Aquatimer Automatic Dive Watch now gets the treatment, following on from the recent Mark XX Pilot Watch. Previously powered by rudimentary ETA movements, the update feels overdue but welcome, and brings a whole new appeal to a unique watch in a crowded dive-watch space.
Looking at the new Aquatimer Automatic, you can’t tell that much has changed as its specs, dimensions and design are basically identical to the outgoing models. But what’s inside makes all the difference: it’s the brand’s 32111 automatic movement with a power reserve of less than five days — compared to the current model’s ETA 2892 at its usual 42 hours. It’s not a new movement, but its inclusion offers flexibility and all the things enthusiasts value about in-house movements, like a more coherent overall product, more technical interest, and better value — especially since an upgrade only increases the price by about $350.
IWC is known for its pilot watches, and the Aquatimer Automatic is sometimes overlooked among dive watches from bigger brands in the same price range. It may have lost some of its movement, but now the Aquatimer feels different with internal chops. First, it works and looks typical of most dive watches with more or less similar designs and features – in other words, it’s nothing like a Rolex Submariner. And it works differently too: the IWC Aquatimer’s timing scale is under the watch’s crystal Improvement, and when you turn the bezel in one direction the reheat rotates in the other direction. It’s novel and nifty, and natural when you try it for yourself.
Which IWC watch will get an in-house movement next?
With both the Aquatimer and the Mark XX receiving the 32111 movement (both very quiet), it begs the question: what’s next in the IWC catalog to take the honor? Lord knows collections are crying out for an in-house movement. The basic, time-only automatic models in the Ingeniere, Portofino and Da Vinci all use rudimentary movements, for example. The Ingenieur is a strong candidate for an update, which would greatly benefit from internal movement and a design modification (as argued here).
At the moment, the luxury dive watch scene and IWC’s offerings in general are a bit interesting. The Aquatimer Automatic comes in the familiar variations of blue (IW328801) or black (IW328802) dial models, selling for $5,950 on rubber straps, or full grand models with a blue dial and steel bracelet (IW328803) at $6,950.
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