With the release this month of the IWC Aquatimer Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer,” limited to just 50 pieces worldwide, the Schaffhausen-based IWC brand not only commemorates the 50th anniversary of its Aquatimer divers’ watch in grand style, but also punches its ticket to the exclusive (but steadily growing) club of watch companies that have introduced new materials into watchmaking.
The new material in question is called Ceratanium, and it is — as one might glean from its name — a composite of ceramic and titanium, boasting the hardness and scratch-resistance of the former while also retaining the latter’s lightness and unbreakability; its distinctive matte-black surface also scores high for skin tolerance and corrosion resistance. IWC’s materials experts spent five years developing this alloy, and the desired result was achieved in time to debut it on this special edition celebrating the half-century mark for the Aquatimer, a pioneer among dive watches when it debuted in 1967 with its 200-meter water resistance and internal rotating bezel. The combination of ceramic and titanium in a new composite material is also apt, as IWC played a major role in bringing both materials to watchmaking in the 1980s.
The watch’s matte-black Ceratanium case is 49 mm in diameter and 19.5 mm thick, with a convex sapphire crystal over the dial that has been treated with nonreflective coating on both sides. Like all models in the Aquatimer collection since its revamp in 2014, it features an external/internal rotating bezel for setting dive times, paired with IWC’s proprietary SafeDive system, which ensures that the internal bezel can only be adjusted once the external bezel is rotated counterclockwise, thus preventing accidental movement of the dive scale and adding an extra layer of protection for a diver keeping track of his air supply underwater. The black rubber strap is outfitted with a quick-change system that enables the wearer to easily swap it out with another strap.
The dial, which is also predominantly black, with white and red highlights, displays this timepiece’s array of complications. The date and month are indicated in large numerals in the style of a digital watch, and because the watch is a perpetual calendar, it automatically recognizes the different lengths of months and even leap years, so no adjustments will need to be made to the date until 2100, provided the watch is kept running. In addition to the perpetual calendar, the watch is equipped with a flyback chronograph function, with elapsed hours and minutes tallied in a single subdial at 12 o’clock.
The movement that drives all of these functions is IWC’s manufacture Caliber 89802, which for this timepiece has had several of its components — including its winding rotor — finished with black coating to harmonize with the overall matte black look. Visible behind a sapphire exhibition caseback, this self-winding movement has 51 jewels, a 28,800-vph frequency, and a 68-hour power reserve.
Available as of September 2017 at IWC boutiques, the Aquatimer Perpetual calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “50 Years Aquatimer” will be priced at 50,000 Swiss francs (about $52,500).