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REVIEW: The IWC Aquatimer Chronograph>>>>>>>>>>

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Published on 05-09-2011 08:55 AM

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Review of the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph

By: John B. Holbrook, II


In the world of luxury mechanical watches, the sport watch segment reigns supreme in popularity. Within the segment, dive watches and chronographs are the biggest sellers, and most popular with mechanical sport watch enthusiasts. So it makes sense that watch manufacturers would combine the two functionalities into a single timepiece, which in theory would be the holy grail of sport watches. Enter the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph in rose gold.


This Aquatimer, Ref. IW376903, is one of several recently redesigned Aquatimer models. Perhaps the biggest change to emerge in the redesigned is to the bezel. Since 1999, IWO's Aquatimer had used a rotating internal bezel, which had the advantage of not being easily moved once set by the user (an important safety feature for divers) but also carried a strong disadvantage in that it could not be easily adjusted while wearing gloves. The new Aquatimer now features a more traditional external rotating bezel. Like several other luxury watch manufacturers (including Blancpain and Rolex), IWO seems to be experimenting with using non-traditional materials in the construction of its bezel— in this case, scratch-resistant sapphire over Super-LumiNova numerals. The combination provides excellent scratch resistance and impressive low-light visibility. Like most dive-style bezels, the bezel on the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph rotates only in one direction—counterclockwise. The feature is intended to enhance safety by reducing the possibility that the bezel could be unintentionally moved from the user- controlled position, causing a critical error in dive timing.



Attached to the 44mm, solid rose gold case (water-resistant to 12 bar) is an innovative new bracelet replacement system that not only makes strap and bracelet changes quicker and easier but also reduces the possibility of scratching the watch case while performing a strap change. At the same time, the new system also offers an incredibly secure installation, making unlimited separation of the strap from the watch case extremely unlikely. One might question the use of a relatively soft metal like gold in the construction of a serous diving tool, but there's no denying the touch of elegance brought to the IWC Chronograph in rose gold by the warm, reddish precious metal. Attached to the black vulcanized rubber dive strap on this Aquatimer Chronograph is a case-matching rose gold clasp, signed by the manufacturer. The chronograph pushers and crown on the right side of the case all have rubber elements incorporated, which coordinate nicely with the strap and make the crown easier to grip and turn. Affixed to the caseback of the watch is another elegant touch - a sapphire crystal display back for viewing the well-decorated IWC Caliber 89360.


The Aquatimer Chronograph in rose gold is the first Aquatimer to receive the new, all in-house designed and manufactured IWC Caliber 89360, a self- winding 40 jewel mechanical movement (courtesy of the extremely efficient IWC double-pawl winding system) with power reserve of 68 hours and a balance which oscillates at a speed of 28,800 vibrations per hour (vph) . Caliber 89360 also features a flyback chronograph and quick-set date function. It wasn't long ago that the entire IWC line was made up of watches with outsourced movements, but in recent years, IWC has made great strides in designing and manufacturing its own movements—a capability which tends to raise the level of respect a manufacturer garners among enthusiasts. And the use of this caliber brings a level of sophistication to the Aquatimer Chronograph that few other luxury sport watches can claim.


If the redesigned bezel is a departure for this model, then the new Aquatimer's dial design is an object lesson in tradition. The foundation of the dial is the black checkerboard design, so reminiscent of past Aquatimer dials. Encircling the dial are case-matching rose gold baton markers, which, like the bezel, are coated with ample amounts of Super-LumiNova. The subdials incorporate both white and red elements, which not only coordinate nicely with the bezel, but also provide excellent contrast against the black background of the dial. Like the baton markers, the watch hands are SuperLumiNova coated rose gold, and the chronograph seconds hand is tipped with red for enhanced visibility as it crosses the markers. I am particularly impressed with the unique layout of the subdials. Most traditional chronograph dials feature three registers—two for tracking elapsed hours and minutes and one indicating running seconds. IWC has Chosen to combine elapsed hours and minutes totalizers into a single register at 12 and place the seconds register, which also contains a well-integrated date display, at 6. In my opinion, this design presents a more symmetrical, clean look than does the traditional three- register layout. I didn't find that combining the totalizers at 12 detracted in any way from their function or legibility. In fact, rarely have I seen a watch dial that was so aesthetically pleasing, functional and well thought out.

The Aquatimer Chronograph in rose gold (ref. IW376903) is IWC's attempt at creating the ultimate sports watch. Whether it has succeeded or failed will be history's to decide, but there's certainly a lot to like about this watch. It features many contemporary design elements including innovative use of sapphire in the bezel, use of rubber in the case and strap, and the 44mm case size. Of course one cannot overlook the cachet provided by the in-house IWC Caliber 89360. The Retail price of the IWC Aquatimer in rose gold is $19,900.00 which places it squarely in the luxury timepiece category, but this timepiece is well worth the price, given all that it brings to the table.


**Photos & Text Copyright 2011 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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