Review: Aquatimer Chronograph IW376804
From keeping pilots on time as they crossed from one longitude to another, to accompanying astronauts into space, watchmaking has played an integral part in much of mankind’s advancement during the 20th century. Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention, and watchmaking had to constantly evolve to meet the needs of the wearer, where accurate timekeeping was crucial to success—and in some cases, survival.
When it came to exploring the ocean depths, watchmakers encountered a unique challenge. While being subjected to dramatic changes in pressure, watches had to remain water-resistant—and to increasing depths, as divers ventured ever further downward. As diving itself was a tricky enterprise, it made sense that many early dive watches were the result of collaborations with the military, when serious divers needed serious—and reliable—instruments. But as dive technology developed, so did the public’s interest in diving—that is, diving for the sheer fun of it.
Watchmakers were quick to realise that this new kind of diver needed a new kind of watch. Not only was water resistance and dive timing key, but these timepieces had to be stylish enough to wear out of the water and into the office.
IWC caught on to the demand in 1967, when it released the Aquatimer. It was water resistant to 200m and featured an inner bezel—set by a second crown—to measure dive time, while still showcasing the sort of sophistication IWC had set a precedent for with the Ingenieur. Later models would incorporate depth gauges, and a collaboration with Porsche in 1982 took IWC to an incredible dive depth of 2,000m.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing. At SIHH 2009, IWC released an updated Aquatimer that featured splashes of bright colour on the bezel and hands. This was, of course, great for making the watches more legible in the murky depths—but perhaps not so great to pair with a work suit. Some felt that the eye-catching colours took something away from the finesse of previous models.
With the Aquatimer Chronograph IW376804, IWC seems to have taken this to heart. In robust stainless steel, there’s no hint of flamboyance in this watch—it’s an elegantly sporty piece that’s ready for business. The black dial harks back to the first Aquatimers, while luminescent paint on the hands, dial and internal bezel means that it’s still legible underwater.
Imperative for a dive watch, the piece allows the wearer to measure the amount of time they have spent underwater—but not in quite the same way as early incarnations. Instead of having to set the internal bezel with a crown—which can prove fiddly if you’re wearing diving gloves—the wearer can instead set the dive time by turning an external bezel. The clever part comes in the form of an innovative sliding clutch system, housed at 9 o’clock. While the outer bezel can rotate both ways, the inner bezel can only turn anticlockwise—avoiding accidentally exceeding the dive time if the former is inadvertently knocked or moved.
IWC has added further functionality with a chronograph, allowing for the monitoring of separate periods of time up to 12 hours, and it has a water-resistance of 30 bar—or 300 metres to the non-diver. All this culminates in a nifty combination of utility and classic, polished style—ticking all the right boxes for the gentleman diver.
Watch Spec | Aquatimer Chronograph IW376804
Case | Stainless steel Dimensions | 44mm Crystal | Synthetic sapphire Water Resistance | 300m Movement | Calibre 79320, automatic Frequency | 28,800vph Power Reserve | 44 hours Strap | Black rubber Functions | Time, dive bezel, chronograph, day and date RRP | £5,250