1812 IWC Aquatimer

For every run-of-the-mill Aquatimer you’d see at a generic airport-based IWC boutique, there is one which is incredibly interesting. The line has a massive degree of stochastic variance with respect to greatness. Yes, there are immensely boring mass produced ETA-base design exercises. But then there are the immensely capable Ocean 2000, Deep One and Deep Two with mechanical depth gauges, or titanium 3536 with its ingenious spring-loaded bezel design. This ref. 1812 is the genesis of all Aquatimers . . .but particularly the great ones.


The original 812 is a deeply austere take on the practical diver. IWC took their cal 8541 with its Pellaton winding mechanism from the Ingenieur, found a modified 37mm super compressor case courtesy of Enicar, and went to town. There’s something about its dial which is vaguely tuxedo-adjacent but with more practicality, Bauhaus with purpose. Its signed dual fish crowns are uber-cool and the whole package just feels like they got it right from the start.


Production numbers of this first generation Aquatimer were low, but not recorded. They were produced under references 812 and later 1812. There were many dial variations, both all-black and all-white, the combination shown here, and its inverse. Good examples are far between today. This one, dated to 1976 with extract, is from later production where the letters IWC were applied above the longhand signature. Early examples lacked this. There is an entire sphere of watchmaking I enjoy deeply which falls under the heading ‘forgotten-could-have-been-greats’. The 812 and 1812 represent an unashamedly brilliant start, both in aesthetics, proportion, technical calibre, and sheer unfussy practicality. A return to form would be welcome.


This example is stellar. The dial retains true black, cream tritium, and no visible damage anywhere. Its case is very sharp, possibly untouched. The back engraving is deep. It comes with an extract of archive noting 1976 production and sale in Frankfurt from a well-regarded Miami retailer.

Find this 1812 here from Menta Watches for 16500 USD.