Throughout 2020, my watch rotation was completely different than a typical 12 months. One of many vital components was distant working from residence, but in addition different causes seeped in. Because of the mixture of those conditions, one watch turned my predominant wrist companion and even accompanied me on my restricted however worthwhile trip time over the previous 12 months. That watch was the IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Version “Expedition Charles Darwin.”
However why this IWC specifically? And what led me to it? Let’s dive in and discover out.
The hunt for bronze treasure
In 2014, IWC introduced the overhauled Aquatimer assortment throughout SIHH. On the time, then-CEO Georges Kern had a choice for renewing single mannequin traces every year. Among the many new Aquatimer vary was IWC’s first-ever mannequin encased in bronze, the Aquatimer Expedition Charles Darwin.
Earlier than this Aquatimer, most watch fans would affiliate bronze dive watches with Panerai. The Panerai PAM382 got here out in 2011 with a colorless inexperienced dial, swiftly adopted by the PAM507 in 2013, which added an influence reserve indicator. I used to be at all times a fan of bronze dive watches and was determined so as to add one as a each day wearer. Each Panerai references had been on my radar, however every launch offered out in a flash and now command hefty premiums on the resale market. Sizzling on the bronze pattern’s heels had been two particular version items from Tudor and Oris — the Tudor Black Bay Bronze and Oris Divers Sixty-Five Carl Brashear, respectively. Nevertheless, each choices felt too small for my wrist.
At this level, I ought to clarify that I’m a tall man with giant wrists. Watches below 44mm (typically) get slightly misplaced on my wrist, no less than for my part. Alongside the diameter standards, the bronze diver I used to be searching for needed to have an in-house motion. Additionally, I observed how the Panerai’s bronze alloy turned a vibrant inexperienced and, in some circumstances, fairly crusty from publicity to saltwater. From then, I knew the patina improvement I used to be after ought to flip to a darker hue and never develop ugly floor growths.
The IWC Aquatimer Expedition Charles Darwin
The IWC Aquatimer Expedition Charles Darwin answered all my prayers: 44mm, bronze with an alloy that solely darkens with time and the in-house caliber 89365 motion. It was a while earlier than the appropriate provide got here alongside. The wait turned 5 years, however in 2019 I lastly pulled the set off on it. I even have a particular affection for IWC and its clear traces and clear designs. Nevertheless, the flyback chronograph perform was not exactly a field I used to be trying to tick off on my pre-requisites. A time and date model would have sufficed as I puzzled if I wanted a flyback elapsed timing perform for diving or different actions.
It seems that I discovered the flyback function extremely usable for resetting train intervals within the climbing fitness center. The caliber 89365 inside was fairly strong to be used throughout climbing and didn’t let me down as I used to be dangling from the sting. Nevertheless, it did obtain a considerable knock after I by chance dropped it from roughly 160cm onto kitchen tiles. This did cease the motion, however a fast service introduced it again up and operating once more. That appears to be the benefit of mechanical watches: ADs and boutiques are eager on getting your timepieces ticking once more. You couldn’t say the identical about electronics shops whenever you drop off your touch-screen smartphone for a little bit of TLC.
Little doubt, the Aquatimer has appreciable presence on my wrist with a formidable peak of 16.9mm. However, as we see with darkish grey or black watches, there’s a phenomenon that they seem smaller than the specs recommend. It’s the identical for this bronze Aquatimer the place the case patinas to a darker shade. It finally ends up feeling substantial with out overburdening my wrist, no less than visually. The Aquatimer regularly turned my trip watch as every journey altered the looks of the bronze case. It was like bringing residence a memento that isn’t thrown away two weeks later.
One other function that made it the right journey companion is the quick-change strap system. Shortly releasing the strap makes it straightforward to wash after swimming or diving in saltwater and even after a sweaty hike within the mountains.
Final 12 months, touring was pretty restricted from March onwards, and worldwide journey was out of the window. I adjusted my journey plans accordingly and stayed inside Germany for some much-needed trip time. As a climber and lover of the nice outdoor, I visited the realm of Berchtesgaden twice. On each events, the Aquatimer Chronograph Version Expedition Charles Darwin was in tow, in addition to on a brief journey to the well-known climbing vacation spot of Frankonia.
Choosing my mountain climbing watch
Beforehand, I thought of which watch from my assortment would finest go well with the attractive alps of Berchtesgaden for 3 weeks. The Aquatimer was my typical go-to, however the measurement and the mass had me considering. Particularly as I’d be spending most of my time mountain climbing and usually being energetic exterior and never essentially within the water. However as I used to be spending the entire time with my five-year-old son, his choice of seeing the Aquatimer on my wrist made the reply easy. He’s at all times saying, “take the golden watch.” I haven’t but had the center to right him…
To my shock, the 44mm Aquatimer didn’t negatively impression any of the excursions we went on. Which will presumably have been as a result of my backpack was the best annoyance and utterly stole the present in that regard. However nonetheless, the watch felt easy to put on for lengthy durations. The actual plus was that the quick-change strap system allowed me to take away the strap to wash the watch head simply. Within the blazing temperatures, a perspiration-heavy hike made each day cleansing of the watch a necessity.
I did use the rotating bezel, however principally to shortly examine the wait time for meals and beer on the native alpine huts. Maybe I ought to have used the flyback chronograph for this, however I simply loved the bezel’s tactile really feel — it’s an amazing stand-in fidget spinner enabling overgrown children to look vaguely grownup in well mannered firm. Beneath the sunshine and vibrant blue skies of our journey, the most effective factor in regards to the watch was with the ability to take pleasure in how the colours and depth react to the sunshine. Typically, that’s all a watch must do to carry a smile to my face.
The IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Version Expedition Charles Darwin is a improbable watch and, for me, symbolized familiarity in unsure instances. In my opinion, the IWC Aquatimer is an underrated dive watch — particularly this bronze model. That doesn’t matter an excessive amount of to me as the private connection I share with this watch and my son is a very powerful factor.
Observe me on Instagram @patrickthesting to see extra of my adventures.
All pictures by Patrick Stachel. Learn extra about IWC right here.