Deep Dive with an IWC Collector: Craig Henshaw

To say that Toronto-based watch collector Craig Henshaw is the very definition of an IWC man is an understatement: constantly seeking out adventure might as well be his job description, and on almost all of these endeavors, you can find him sporting a piece from his IWC collection. However, it’s Craig’s Aquatimer Deep Two that holds a special place in his heart.

As an active diver and underwater photographer, Craig has traveled to far-off destinations not known to most. One such place is Taveuni, a remote island off the cost of Fiji, that is the third largest island in the Fijian archipelago. Notably, Taveuni is home to CIVA Pearl Farm (“civa”, pronounced “dheeva” means “pearl” in Fijian), a small, family-run farm that turns out, as Craig describes, some of the most unique and unblemished pearls in the world. This is a result of the black-lipped oysters, native to the area and known for creating the most colorful and unique pearls on Earth.

Craig explains: “Fijian pearls are truly unlike any others as they express a plethora of colors; apple green, cranberry, champagne, blush pinks and sapphire blues. The white spheres that are so revered elsewhere pale into insignificance amongst this universe of hues.”

For all their beauty, finding these pearls is no small feat. Simply getting to Taveuni is an expedition. So, imagine a diver’s anxiety when at the final stages of suiting up, after traveling to this remote location, he learns that his dive computer is on the fritz.  

“My heart sunk. It’s the last sound any diver wants to hear. My computer was dead. Totally dead,” said Craig. “I had dragged 20lbs of camera and lighting equipment, all in top-grade underwater housing, half way around the world with my girlfriend, just for this dive.”  

Luckily for Craig, during a trip to Hong Kong, he noticed the IWC Aquatimer Deep Two while shopping. With the built-in mechanical depth gauge and rotating bezel, he was able to calculate both the dive time and depth. Along with an old-school pressure gauge (the dive master’s regulator hoses that had grown swollen and large at the base almost exploded pre-dive as well) and the skills he picked up throughout his 28 years of diving, Craig was able to get in the water. 

“My Aquatimer purchase is a side effect of my own insatiable need to buy dive gear,” said Craig. “And I’m glad I had it – this dive was too important to miss.”

Along with capturing the beauty of the pearl farm and the pearls themselves, Craig had another mission on this trip: discovering the perfect pearl. And he was in luck: during the dive, his guide discovered a spectacular dark green pearl, very rarely found in nature.  

“It was truly the perfect pearl, and it’s exactly what I was looking for.”  

At the conclusion of the dive, the boat began the long trip back to shore, but with one stop, unbeknownst to Craig’s girlfriend who was part of the diving expedition. The location? A small spot nicknamed “Honeymoon Island” by the locals.  

Pulling out the magnificent green pearl discovered on the dive, Craig went down on one knee to propose.

“I said, ‘Any man can give his girl a diamond ring. I got this pearl from the bottom of the ocean just so I can ask you this: will you be my wife?’” shared Craig.

Another Dive Into The Aquatimer Deep Three

The Aquatimer is meant to be equal parts stylish wrist companion and serious instrument. Sure, most of us will never put our watches to the test, but it’s always confidence inspiring to know that they can handle the worst. The Aquatimer Deep Three takes this ethos to another level, providing a real mechanical depth gauge inside a stylish Aquatimer package.

As the name implies, this is the third depth gauge watch from IWC and takes the technology to another level. This all starts with the titanium case. There is no question that at 46mm in diameter and 16.5mm thick this is a massive watch, but the titanium keeps it from feeling like a dive weight on the wrist. The rubber strap also helps here and is a great fit.

In addition to the SafeDive bezel, a feature found on all new Aquatimers, the Deep Three has a dual-function depth gauge as well. The blue indictor shows current depth, while the red indicator tracks the maximum depth on a given dive, up to 50 meters. You can easily reset the max dive indicator with the pusher at 2 o’clock. That protrusion at 4 o’clock is the valve that allows the depth gauge to function.

It was ten years between the Deep One and Deep Two releases (1999 and 2009, respectively) and luckily we didn’t have to wait quite as long for the Deep Three. It’s a complication that not many will use but that really shows IWC’s commitment to creating interesting, purpose-built tool watches.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

Answer Eight Questions, Win A Trip To The IWC Manufacture In Schaffhausen

From time to time, we like to host a little contest, and who better to team up with than IWC. We are offering one lucky reader an all-expenses paid trip to Schaffhausen, Switzerland to get an inside look at the IWC manufacture. How cool it that?

Of course, a member of the HODINKEE team with join you on your horological adventure. To add a little challenge to the mix, we’ve created an eight-question quiz about all things IWC. If you get all eight questions correct, you’ll be entered into a random drawing for the grand prize.

Want an edge? All you have to do is follow HODINKEE and IWC across social media, where we’ll be giving out clues for the eight IWC trivia questions over the coming week.

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Enter the contest here. Good luck and see you in Schaffhausen!

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

Taking To The Skies With The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “JU-AIR”

It’s no secret that IWC has been active in the field of aviation for nearly a century. The earliest Fleiger watches from IWC date to 1936 and they can sell for big money on the vintage market. But it’s not just a vague historical connection here. IWC continues to work in the field, as today’s special edition watch shows. Here we have the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “JU-AIR” to celebrate two decades of preservation.

The Junkers JU-52 is a legendary plane and there are only eight still flying today. One of those has had the IWC logo emblazoned on it since 1994 to show IWC’s support for JU-AIR, the private airline that keeps these aircraft in service. To launch the partnership, three of the JU-52s flew to Venegono, Italy for a ceremony, and in 2000 the IWC plane began a circumnavigational tour to show off the new pilot’s watch line-up.

The watch here commemorates all this in a modified “Spitfire” chronograph – the Spitfire pilot’s watches have bright silver dials instead of the usual black. The JU-AIR is almost entirely monochromatic, save the red seconds hand and arrow for the date display, giving is a really dramatic look. It’s bright and easy to read on the wrist, despite the lack of contrast.

The 43mm stainless steel case has a JU-52 engraved on the back and inside you’ll find the caliber 89365 movement. This movement is a flyback chronograph with 68 hours of power reserve. It’s automatic and has hacking seconds as well.

The Edition JU-AIR is limited to only 500 pieces worldwide. 

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

A More Complicated Portofino

The Portofino is known for its simplicity. The family of watches is all about pure lines, legibility, and letting what’s not there speak louder than what is. These are all great traits, but it doesn’t mean you can’t add some complexity to the mix once in a while. The Portofino Chronograph does just that, adding functionality and a little extra style to the otherwise reserved archetype.

The time-only Portofino is about as simple as a watch can get. The Portofino Chronograph carries the same thin baton markers (with lanky Roman numerals at 12 and 6), a cleanly printed minutes/seconds track at the very edge of the dial, and a slim bezel that gives priority to the dial itself. 

What’s new is the chronograph complication. At 12 o’clock you have a 30 minute totalizer with the 12 hour totalizer down at 6 o’clock. A running seconds register at 9 and day and date windows at 3 balance things out. All are cleanly executed.

Looking closely at the dial, you can really see the level of detail IWC has worked into what looks simple at first glance. There are a variety of grained textures as well as the printing and the sunburst finish, giving the dial a great depth. Both dial colors are nice and look good with the red gold case, but the ardoise is especially handsome here. 

As usual there is the Portofino engraving on the caseback, along with the IWC and Portofino signatures. It’s a simple, straightforward way to finish of a watch that balances cleanliness and complexity.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen