IWC Aquatimer GST 2000 is a robust dive-watch produced from late 90 to early 00s. The watch comes in three different configurations with an IWC integrated bracelet. The watch is diameter is about 42mm with the bezel and the lug to lug of the watch is 49mm. The size of this watch is particularly deceiving as the integrated bracelet increases its actual wrist size. With a depth rating of 2000m, the watch is more than adequate to handle everyday challenges, such as light rain on your way to the office.
The watch came in three configurations: IW356501 with titanium case, IW 356502 with steel case and IW356503 with steel case and white dial with gold accents. The GST in the model name refers to Gold (03), Steel (02) and Titanium (01). The different configurations have additionally more subtle differences, which I will attempt to outline in the review. In addition, according to online lore, the titanium version seems to be the most common, then steel and steel with the white dial being the rarest.
|Reference||IW356501, IW356502, IW356503|
|Movement||IWC Cal. 37524 (ETA 2892-A2)|
|Lug to lug||49mm*|
|Material||Stainless Steel. Titanium|
|Water Resistance||2000 m|
Dial and Hands
The dial of the IW3536 has about 32mm diameter and the dial colour on the steel version is somewhat matte. The indices on the steel version are applied and on the titanium version they are painted onto the dial. The baton hands are legible. The indices are not initially as bright or as green as Omega of the same time, but the lume lasts equally long to my Planet Ocean.
The crystal of the watch is thick, 3,7mm and there is tiny curvature. The watch lacks any sort of AR coating and this makes the watch particularly hard to photograph. Those familiar with the difficulties of photographing a Rolex without crystal reflection know the deal.
The dial of these watches are interesting: At the start of production, IWC purposefully mixed luminova and tritium resulting in mixed dials. This was done to emphasise cardinal markers over others. Due to swiss watch industry phasing out tritium, the experiment was short-lived and most watches have all luminova dial.
Bracelet and Straps
The IWC Aquatimer comes with the bracelet by default. The steel bracelet (IWA04924) has polished center links, whereas the titanium bracelet (IWA04531) is fully brushed. The bracelet tapers to 18mm and the clasp is a simple pressure clasp with a hidden release pin on the side. The bracelet is thin and in my eyes is much more elegant than Omega bracelets of the time.
The bracelet has a very user friendly pin system where each center link has a spring-loaded button that allows to pushing out the pin. It has to be noted, that owners need to keep care of their bracelets as it is possible for the buttons to get stuck if enough gunk and residue accumulate inside.
The only officially offered strap alternative was the velcro strap. The velcro strap attaches to the first end-link between the lugs, with special hardware that allows mounting the velcro strap.
All in all, the choice of lugs makes strap selection very hard and makes it impossible to wear a standard nato strap without additional hardware. However, it is possible to fit straps from other references that share the case. These are the fabric strap from IW3715-36 and alternate rubber strap from IW3548. The rubber strap comes in standard length (IWA15761) and xl length (IWA15762) and they need to be ordered with a separate buckle (IWA15359).
|IWA15761||Rubber||IWA15359||Alternate rubber strap off IW3548, Standard length|
|IWA15762||Rubber||IWA15359||Alternate rubber strap off IW3548, XL|
|IWA15359||Buckle||–||Needed for rubber strap|
|IWA16242||Fabric strap||IWC Jan Ulrich chronograph (ref. 3715-36)|
Case and Bezel
The size of the watch is 42 mm measured from the bezel assembly. When measured from the case, the diameter is 1mm less, 41mm. The height of the watch is 14,5 mm to 15mm. The case lacks crown guards, which somewhat offsets the otherwise large size. The crown diameter is 6,5mm, but I don’t have precision calipers to measure the exact size. Older crowns have a fish symbol, whereas newer service crowns have text ‘Probus Scafucia’ and ‘IWC’.
The defining design element of the case are the lugs that integrate to a bracelet. The first link of the watch can be divisive as you either like it or don’t. Whereas the lug to lug is 49mm, the watch wears longer due to the overhanging end-link. The end-link doesn’t move, which can make wearing on small wrists hard.
The matte bezel has raised indices and it is made out of aluminium. The bezel is spring-loaded from the bottom and needs to be pushed down to rotate. The bezel still rotates only to one direction and the bezel action is pleasant and accurate, but bezel has only 60 clicks, whereas many modern dive watches have 120 or more. My personal issue with the bezel is that it can cause damage to clothes, especially if it rubs against shirt.
The finish on the steel case is a mix of brushed and polished surfaces giving a flashy look. From other big manufacturers, Omega has utilised similar finish on their later Planet Ocean series. The titanium case is simply brushed, giving it very utilitarian look familiar to many from Porsche Design and modern Sinn watches.
The IWC Aquatimer 2000 GST can be considered to be a watch ahead of its time. The specifications of the watch are ambitious and it can compete with nearly any watch produced at the time of writing this article (2022). In terms of materials, finish and quality, the watch sits on the level of Tudor Pelagos and Omega Planet Ocean.
The watch has a highly opinionated case, and the bracelet is highly innovative, but not too heavy. The divisive factor of the watch is the bracelet end-link. Because it is rigid, it may exclude persons with smaller than 16cm wrist. Additional downside of the design decision is that strap options are limited. For anyone considering the watch, the best advice is to try it out before purchase.
Finally, if you are worried about the weight of the steel version it is possible to consider the titanium reference for the reduced weight. Otherwise, the watch feels less bulky that Omega Planet Ocean on a bracelet, so if you can enjoy that, and aren’t bothered by limited strap options, you can definitely enjoy the IWC Aquatimer GST 2000.