The weather may have finally turned truly chilly but that only prompts thoughts of heading to a beach somewhere to enjoy some sun, sand and surf while everyone back at home freezes their you know whats off. And on offer this month is the perfect watch to accompany you on any Caribbean or South Seas getaway you may have planned — a late 1990s IWC Aquatimer 2000 GST ref. 3536.
This example of long discontinued and long admired professional grade dive watch has the more uncommon stainless steel case (most were made in titanium) with matching fantastically designed integrated bracelet. Better yet, this true tool watch from the great Schaffhausen marque comes complete with inner and outer boxes, manuals & IWC guarantee card (in Japanese), bracelet tools and a couple of extra links.
This example of 3536 features a rare mixed-media partially Tritium dial and hands. IWC did a very interesting and peculiar thing on the earlier examples of this model where they used Trit luminous for the “12” marking and for the hands (as well as the bezel pip) but Luminova luminous for the other dial markers. Odd & eccentric but kind of cool and sort of unique to IWC as far as I can tell. This version of Aquatimer dial has a real form follows function look to it and I greatly prefer the all-business, almost military style of this 3536 dial, especially with the Trit elements, to those models in the line that came after it.
Running like a top and ready for action this big steel IWC Aquatimer 2000 GST is ready for any aquatic adventure you’re likely to dream up. And if you find yourself stuck here in wintertime at least you can console yourself with a stylish, tough and rapidly-becoming-vintage classic on your wrist that can stand up to digging your car out of a snow drift and still help you cut a fine figure when you finally make it your office or evening’s engagement.
One of my favorite vintage brands and one which I also feel is consistently undervalued is the International Watch Company of Schaffhausen, better known as simply IWC. Back in the day, every IWC watch had an in-house movement and their manual wind and automatic calibers were some of the best, most reliable and accurate machines on the market. With their bespoke Pelleton winding system, which was developed by the marque’s famed technical director Albert Pelleton in the early 1950s, IWC offered a solid alternative, if not also an implicit challenge, to Rolex’s longtime dominance of full rotor automatic technology. IWC continued to develop their 85x auto calibers for nearly two decades until they reached what many experts consider the pinnacle with their legendary 8541B movement. And it is the 8541B that you find in IWC’s other implicit challenge to Rolex, the beautifully designed Yacht Club model.
Debuting right at the dawn of the funky 1970s when the Swiss watch industry would go somewhat design mad chasing rapidly changing tastes and fashions, the Yacht Club manages to be at once cutting edge and traditional. Making full use of the sweeping lines of the “C”-shape case, variations of which are also found in contemporaneous Omega Constellations and Heuer’s automatic Carrera, the Yacht Club’s heavy steel case is a perfectly proportioned 36mm X 44mm. That’s much bigger than the rather medium-sized C-shape Connie and obviously not as big as Heuer’s macho racing chronograph, so where it ends up is exactly in the same size bracket as Rolex’s evergreen, the Datejust. And that’s really the best analog and probably the exact watch IWC were gunning for. For if the Datejust was the icon of a never-changing design standard, the Yacht Club aimed to offer the same sort of elegance but with a bit of an avant garde twist for the modern man.
Hence the lugs sweep inward toward the bracelet rather than projecting out in a relatively straight line like the DJ, giving the dial extra prominence and pop. And what beautiful dials the Yacht Clubs had, from the classic beauty of starburst silver to moody, manly gray to my personal favorite, an astonishing blue that changes in hue ever so subtly depending on the angle at which its viewed. Note also the classy way the date discs are not one-size-fits-all for the colored dials but rather reverse printed with white numerals on the matching color background of the dial. Nice touch! The hands are luminous with black inlay and very easy to read and there is something that really appeals about the applied IWC logo of this period. I like it better than the earlier printed full script “International Watch Co.” alone and much more than the later boring printed block lettering, which still adorns their dials today.
The Yacht Club was also a departure for IWC in that prior to its introduction they produced only a few special models with a screw back case design, such as the anti-magnetic Ingenieur and the diver-centric Aquatimer. Continue reading →
Speaking of Grails: As September winds down to a close it’s my great pleasure to offer on behalf of a friend a very rare and iconic vintage Porsche Design by IWC Ocean 2000. This cult tool watch classic is crafted in all-titanium with a matching super comfortable and innovative bracelet and is the civilian version of a very famous German Navy-issued Bund military watch. At 43mm in diameter it’s the big size model and dates from the mid-1990s. Best of all, it’s in fantastic condition and not only has it been well maintained during its lifetime with the paperwork to prove it but the watch also comes with essentially every item that this IWC Porsche Design Ocean 2000 came with when it was bought new.
This is a rare opportunity to own a complete example of this avant-garde IWC diver with exceptional provenance. And while it’s certainly not inexpensive it is a quality collectible that’s well worth ponying up for if it tickles your fancy, as well a watch that has seen a pronounced increase in value the last few years. As the old saying goes: they’re not making any more of them!