There is an entire sphere of watchmaking I enjoy deeply which falls under the heading ‘forgotten-could-have-been-greats’. The requirements are as follows: the watch must have been initially innovative or mould-breaking, succeeded by worse iterations or killed off, and is now only appreciated by a select few. In that lies the 2446 GMT Autavia, Nautical Cricket, 7150, and this. The Aquatimer exists today and is in fact a fantastic watch, but it is a fantastic watch that is largely sold for volume and revenue. There are exceptions like the Galapagos and very interesting Deep series. I defy you, however, to tell me that this is not leagues more interesting: the original 812 Aquatimer.
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 super compressor, and went to town. The 37mm steel tool watch has aged since with remarkable grace. There’s something about its dial which is vaguely tuxedo-adjacent but with more practicality. Its signed dual fish crowns are uber-cool and the whole package just feels so right in 2021. Production numbers of this first generation Aquatimer were very low, but not recorded. Good examples are far between today. This one, dated to 1968, is one of the earlier batch without IWC applied above the 12 o’clock script.
The matte dial here has greyed out slightly to a beautiful even tone. Its lume is wholly intact and just slightly warmed with age. The inner rotation bezel is a surprisingly pure which for such an age. Its case is strong and comes on a traditionally appropriate beads of rice. I cannot confirm the bracelet originality but it appears correct. It is sold with an extract of archive from a well-regarded retailer.
Find this 1812 here from The Keystone for 25000 USD.