High art of watch-making takes to depths with new IWC Schaffhausen Aquatimer
Tuesday, 18 February 2014 00:01
Limited to just 50 watches, the Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month combines state-of-the-art technology with quality looks. Hidden away inside a case made of unusual materials, such as rubber-coated titanium and 18-carat red gold, is a perpetual calendar with a large digital display showing the date and month. The integrated quick-action switch, which advances the month display, has one thing in common with the Galapagos marine iguana: they are both masters of energy efficiency.
Several million years ago, a number of iguanas landed by chance on the Galapagos Islands. Unable to find enough food on the barren archipelago, they turned to the oceans for sustenance. But in the cold water, their body temperature sank rapidly. Over time, the marine iguanas became masters of energy efficiency: they bask in the sun on the baking hot volcanic rock, storing the energy they need for their strength-sapping dives. Once in the water, they reduce their energy requirements by slowing down their heartbeat. This is nature’s way of showing us how to use energy intelligently.
Energy plays a central role not only in biology but also in watch-making mechanics. The automatic winding system in a mechanical watch supplies the movement with energy, but owing to the limited length of the mainspring, only part of it can be saved. There is enough energy for basic timekeeping and even for energy-sapping complications like the perpetual calendar. But if the perpetual calendar in question has large digital date and month displays with an additional leap year display, it means five display discs may need to be moved simultaneously. This is where a conventional winding mechanism is soon stretched to its limits.
For this reason, the engineers at IWC Schaffhausen developed the quick-action switch. This self-contained mechanical energy storage device builds up the power required to advance the month display discs continuously throughout the month. Storing energy and being able to access it as needed: the quick-action switch and the marine iguana function according to the same principle.
Digital or analogue: innovative either way
In 2014, the perpetual calendar with its quick-action switch and large digital display showing the date and month took its place in IWC Schaffhausen’s diver’s watch family. Limited to just 50 watches and available exclusively in IWC boutiques, including the Chatham Luxury store at Galle Face Court, the Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month is the flagship of the new Aquatimer collection. The distinctly technical design of the dial is characterised by the extra-large numerals of the perpetual calendar.
At IWC, the digital display with large numerals has a tradition dating as far back as 1884. Unlike the date, however, the digital time display never really caught on. Even today, most individuals prefer an analogue display with hands because it is easier and more intuitive and gives a better sense of time periods.
Functional design, quality looks
The Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month is a genuinely big watch: with an impressive diameter of 49 millimetres, it is the second-largest wristwatch in IWC’s history after the Big Pilot’s Watch of 1940. The external rotating bezel is made of 18-carat red gold, as is the protective cover on the left side of the case. The IWC SafeDive system ensures that the bezel can only be turned anticlockwise and that zero hour – a dive time requiring no decompression stops – is not inadvertently exceeded. The casing ring, push-buttons and crown are made of rubber-coated titanium. While the attractive black rubber strap with its black alligator leather inlay guarantees maximum comfort in wear and a long service life, the unusual combination of red gold, rubber and leather gives the watch a look that is both classy and sporty at once. It is water-resistant to 10 bar and will attract attention both underwater and on terra firma: another feature it has in common with the marine iguanas on the Galapagos Islands.
With a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design.