Luxury watch brands spent much of the last year mining company archives for aquatic rather than aviation inspiration. At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva, Switzerland, brands from IWC to Cartier introduced high-performance dive watches designed to be both stylish and functional at depth. The new timepieces are moderately sized – this year as well there was a resurgence of small-faced watches at the show – and moderately flashy, the perfect complement to either a blue or wet suit.
IWC Aquatimer Automatic
When IWC sets its sights on a new corner of the watch market, it dives right in. This year, it's all about the ocean. Last overhauled in 2009, the Aquatimer Automatics, with their 42mm cases, are the smallest member of the Aquatimer family. The new collection keeps the same general aesthetic as the 2009 Aquatimer lineup but introduces several new technical innovations – the most prominent being the improved water-pressure rating from 120 meters to 300 meters (the same as the Aquatimer Chronographs). In addition to the Super-LumiNova markings –blue for time display and green for dive times – external rotating bezels and pure three-handed dials, an all-new concept is the IWC SafeDive System, a combination internal-external bezel system that replaces the traditional crown-based operation. In a nutshell, the clutch mechanism only allows the internal bezel to rotate counter-clockwise in one-minute increments, making it both precise and unidirectional so that it provides ease of operation. [$6,750 with stainless steel strap; iwc.com]