A trend is emerging at IWC: the prestigious Swiss watchmaker is increasingly filling out its core collections with in-house movements. Following the recent Mark XX Pilot's Watch the brand's Aquatimer Automatic dive watch now gets the treatment. Previously powered by sourced ETA movements, the update feels overdue but welcome and brings a whole new appeal to a watch that's unique in the crowded dive-watch space.
Looking at the new Aquatimer Automatic, though, you wouldn't be able to tell 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 no less than five days of power reserves — in comparison to the existing model's ETA 2892 with its typical 42 hours.
It isn't a new movement, but its inclusion offers convenience and all the things that enthusiasts tend to value about in-house movements like a more cohesive overall product, more technical interest and better value — especially since the upgrade only bumps up the price by about $350. (It's worth noting that the movement is made by Val Fleurier, which also makes similar movements for other fellow Richemont Group brands. Some enthusiasts might not want to call it "in-house," but it's definitely a significant upgrade and more interesting than the previous ETA.)
IWC is best known for its pilot's watches, and the Aquatimer Automatic has sometimes been overlooked among dive watches from big brands in a similar price range. That likely had to do in part with its movement, but now with in-house chops the Aquatimer feels rather different. Firstly, it functions and looks distinctive among so many 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 timing scale of the IWC Aquatimer is underneath the crystal on the watch's rehaut, and when you turn bezel in one direction the rehaut rotates in the other. It's novel and nifty, and intuitive when you try it for yourself.
What IWC watch will get an in-house movement next?
With the Aquatimer and the Mark XX both receiving the 32111 movement (both very quietly), it begs the question: what's next in IWC's catalog to get the honor? Lord knows there are collections crying out for an in-house movement. The basic, time-only automatic models in the Ingenieur, Portofino and Da Vinci all use sourced movements, for example. The Ingenieur is the strongest candidate for an update that would benefit greatly from an in-house movement and design overhaul (as argued for here).
For now, the luxury dive watch scene and IWC offerings in general just got a bit more interesting. The Aquatimer Automatic comes in familiar variations with blue (IW328801) or black (IW328802) dial models selling for $5,950 on rubber straps or a blue dial and steel bracelet (IW328803) for a full grand more at $6,950.