The International Watch Company has always done things a little differently. First of all, the firm wasn’t founded by a venerable Swiss family in the remote mountains of the Jura or in the Vallée de Joux. Rather, it was an American entrepreneur from Boston, F.A. Jones, who set up shop on the banks of the Rhine River in German-speaking Schaffhausen, Switzerland in 1868. Since that time, the company has been known not for its delicacy and decoration but for its robust, accurate movements and slightly avant-garde but pragmatic innovation. This has been particularly evident in its line of dive watches, from the use of titanium as a case material to achieve a 2,000 meter depth rating, to building a completely a-magnetic watch for mine clearance divers to the development of a mechanical depth gauge complication. The current generation of Aquatimer dive watches, introduced in 2009, continues the company’s tradition of building robust tool watches.

True to its origins, the Aquatimer Chronograph continues IWC’s reputation for building rugged yet elegant timepieces that can stand up to real world use. F.A. Jones would have been proud.

The Aquatimer Chronograph is a departure from the previous generation of Aquatimer which featured a handsome and much-loved, but impractical, internal rotating bezel. The grippy, firm bezel on the new Aquatimers can be easily set with wet or gloved hands and has a sapphire luminous insert that glows like the proverbial torch in dark conditions. The slab-sided case, domed crystal and angular lugs carry forward the Aquatimer’s no-nonsense family resemblance. The uncluttered chronograph dial is legible underwater and topside, with wide luminous hands, large markers and an absence of superfluous text. The caliber that lies inside is a version of the ubiquitous and proven Valjoux 7750 movement, disappointing to watch snobs but perfectly appropriate in a watch built to perform a job reliably.

The Aquatimer Chronograph comes with three band choices – a brushed three—link steel bracelet, a rubber strap and a hook-and-loop (read, “Velcro™”) dive strap. Changing bands is a cinch thanks to IWC’s innovative quick release system, which requires no tools. Push a spring-loaded tab on the inside of the strap and it releases from the watch head. Disconcerting at first, the system is secure and very practical. Dive with the rubber or Velcro, and then swap it out for a bracelet for dinner. Of course, the absence of spring bars and lug holes means you’re limited to IWC’s strap offerings but they’ve got all bases covered and you won’t be left wanting.

While the “depth race” in the dive watch world continues to spiral downwards (1,000 meter water resistance is commonplace nowadays), the Aquatimer Chronograph is rated to a modest 120 meters. This is despite the fact that it uses the same thick case as the non-chronograph Aquatimer which can safely drop to 2,000 meters. The difference of course is that the chronograph has two extra holes in the case for the pushers. But IWC’s depth ratings are not for bragging rights but for real world use and the chronograph pushers are functional down to the full depth rating, which is far deeper than all but a handful of divers have ever been.

True to its origins, the Aquatimer Chronograph continues IWC’s reputation for building rugged yet elegant timepieces that can stand up to real world use. F.A. Jones would have been proud.

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Photos by Gishani