3527 IWC GST Deep One
Dive watch tech advanced at a dizzying pace between introduction and mass adoption in the mid-50s and ’70-ish. Helium escape valves, locking bezels, domed crystal, new types of steel, tritium lume, etc. Then the genre found its footing and slowed, a bit like how they say both the goblin shark (that google will haunt your dreams) and duck-billed platypus have actually stopped evolving. The scientific term is ‘living fossils’, which surprisingly is not just a phyla with Joe Biden and a few other sharks in it; the Submariner’s there too. The Sub is the only luxury object in the world to change more slowly than a Porsche 911. This though, IWC’s Deep One from the early 2000s, is what dive watches could have looked like if that stratospheric pace had never stopped. This is the dive watch problem, advanced with every ounce of modern technology Germans could throw at it in the year 2000.
The Deep One is a bead-blasted 42mm chunk of titanium with a mechanical depth gauge visible on the outer track of its dial. That complication is about as rare as any and surprisingly difficult to engineer. Depth is calculated via a Bourdon tube installed in the case that acts a hydraulic pump of sorts, pushing a pressure that turns the depth hand. The mechanism was one of a young Richard Habring’s (yes that Habring) many ingenious works. The full set included a pressurized testing mechanism, for those desk divers as well. The deepest point will stay registered on the dial locked in place, until one presses the 4 o’clock crown to reset. How sick is that? IWC even planned for provable bragging rights down at the pub after the dive.
The Deep series has since gone on through Deep Two and Three, serving as a ground for IWC to prove just how capable the Aquatimer can be. But the first is now increasingly a collector’s darling. It only saw production for two short years, sold terribly at huge premium, then folded. It is estimated fewer than 1000 examples were ever produced. Despite that, it served as a high-water mark for IWC’s technical ability. Those paying close attention to IWC’s turn-of-the-century brilliance know it well. But today, it’s entering true collectable status outside of IWC enthusiasts. This is the first time I can recall seeing one at a big three auction house, and it’s nice to see such a deserving, interesting dive watch finally getting the historic status it absolutely deserves for pushing the envelope hard.
This example is in Phillips Spring Online Auction, hammering in a few days. It comes with a full set and all the fun paraphernalia. The case looks only lightly work and is said to be functioning perfectly. There are others on the market too, but this is one of the better. And I love seeing it sold alongside an early Journe Tourbillon.