It was with some surprise that I learnt that IWC were revisiting its Aquatimer Collection. It was only in 2009 that the Schaffhausen brand refreshed the Aquatimer range and in my opinion, it still looked contemporary and stylish. However, IWC clearly knows what it is doing and has launched an impressive range of masculine timepieces.
IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Expedition Jaques-Yves Cousteau”
I liked the Ingenieur Collection launched at SIHH 2013 but the new Aquatimer Collection, in my opinion, puts its older sibling in the shade. A successful blend of bold lines, judicious use of colour and the intrinsic robustness, typical of diver’s watches, conspire to seduce would-be buyers. IWC has hit the mark with a handsome array of models; I tried on every version of the Aquatimer Collection and failed to find a model I did not like. There were no potentially ageing spinsters in the range that would remain unloved for eternity.
Although I could have selected more than one Aquatimer model, I did not wish to be accused of favouritism. Therefore, I have whittled down my list of favourites to just one model, the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Expedition Jaques-Yves Cousteau”. The blue dial, like a metaphor for sub-aquatic use, is perfectly attuned to current tastes. I did wonder whether blue dial timepieces would cease being popular a few years ago, but the thirst for watches incorporating this particular hue shows no sign of abating any time soon.
Presented in a 44 mm stainless steel case, combined with a black rubber strap, it has chiseled features befitting a Hollywood heart-throb. I have a profound liking for both chronographs and diver’s watches. They confer practicality and in terms of the latter, a robust mien. This particular Aquatimer features hours, minutes, subsidiary seconds, stop watch function, day, date and small hacking seconds. With a maximum water resistance of 300 m, the Chronograph Edition “Expedition Jaques-Yves Cousteau” features a depiction of the famous Frenchman on its caseback, wearing his trademark beanie hat.
In addition, and in common with all versions of the Aquatimer, this watch features two interesting details.
The IWC bracelet quick-change system provides a user-friendly method of swapping the rubber strap for a bracelet or vice-versa. All straps and bracelets across the Aquatimer range are interchangeable. Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre have offered a similar system for sometime and it is good to see IWC join them. Like many watch collectors, I can see much appeal in being able to transform the appearance of a cherished watch with an alternative strap or bracelet.
The external / internal rotating bezel, with SafeDive system, is another notable feature on all Aquatimer watches. The external bezel, courtesy of a drive wheel and drive pinion within the case, turns the internal bezel. It is simple to use, has a pleasing feel and its design mitigates the risk of water ingress. Moreover, the SafeDive system means that whilst the external bezel will turn in either direction, only anti-clockwise movements of the bezel influence the position of the inner bezel. If the external bezel is turned clockwise, the drive wheel within won’t mesh with the inner rotating bezel and the position of the inner bezel will remain unchanged.
If the bezel is accidentally moved antic-clockwise during a dive, it will always display an earlier time than the planned dive time, ensuring the diver does not spend too long underwater. (www.iwc.com)
SIHH 2014 Highlights: Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931
Invariably, whilst attending SIHH, you chat to fellow journalists. The conversation often moves onto the subject of discussing “favourite watches”. As your feet become a fusion of blisters, from the relentless walking, and your mind feels overloaded with facts, figures and technical jargon, it is often difficult to provide a coherent answer. However, one watch that readily sprung to mind when asked, was the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin 1931.
Harking back to 1931, the Reverso has retained an elegant appearance which has lost none of its appeal, despite the onset of years. The brand from Le Sentier, knows that with a merest hint of change, the Art Deco model will pique interest in collectors.
This latest model features a pink gold case with a chocolate dial. The maker’s name is not mentioned on the dial, merely the iconic name, “Reverso” features. Gold sword-shaped hands impart the hours and minutes and subsidiary seconds are presented within a rectangular shaped subdial.
Restraint is the order of the day. No excessive or grandiose gestures are employed. Subtlety is a key attribute of this model. The hours are marked with graceful batons, save for noon, where Arabic numerals are employed sans serifs.
The case, as the name implies, is ultra-thin, measuring 7.3 mm in height. The hand-wound, Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 822/2 is a manufacture movement, measuring only 2.95 mm in thickness is housed within the slender, stylish case. Despite its svelte profile, it harnesses all of the craftsmanship synonymous with the Swiss brand. It must be remembered that Jaeger-LeCoultre is based in the Vallée de Joux, a region with a long history of creating complications and ultra-thin movements. In particular, Jaeger-LeCoultre has an illustrious history, creating movements for many high-end watch companies over the years.
A further highlight of the specification is the superb strap by Casa Fagliano. The company from Buenos Aires is famous for making boots worn by polo players. The brown leather has a robust character, providing a juxtaposition with the lightness and delicacy of the case. Moreover, it seems to complete the historical circle, acting as a reminder of why the Reverso came into being, when British army officers in India wore their Reversos with dials rotated out of harms way during competitive chukkas. Simply delightful. (www.jaeger-lecoultre.com)