Date — 20 January, 2014
The Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Expedition Charles Darwin” is a new chapter in IWC Schaffhausen’s ongoing history of modern, innovative diver’s watches. It is also the first time that the company has used bronze in a watch case: the metal alloy was one of the materials typically used in shipbuilding in the 19th century. This sporty timepiece pays homage to the renowned naturalist Charles Darwin, who gathered some of his fundamental insights into biodiversity on the Galapagos Islands.
October 1835. After 4 years spent circumnavigating the globe, the British survey vessel HMS Beagle cast anchor off the Galapagos Islands, 1,000 kilometres from the South American mainland. On board, Charles Darwin, a young researcher travelling with the ship, noted an “unusual group of finches” in his travel journal. “The most curious fact is the perfect gradation in the size of the beaks in the different species [... one] might really fancy that from an original paucity of birds in this archipelago, one species had been taken and modified for different ends.” The natural scientist then turned his attention to other animal species. Back then, Charles Darwin had no idea that this and his other observations would later lead him to a conclusion that would rock natural science to its foundations: that the world is not immutable. Rather, it is subject to a process of constant adaptation. It was here, on the Galapagos Islands, that his theory of the adaptability of species and their descent from a common ancestor first took root. In 2014, IWC Schaffhausen dedicates a special diver’s watch – the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Expedition Charles Darwin” (Ref. IW379503) – to that historic Galapagos expedition.
The Charles Darwin special edition is not only something very special for the new 2014 Aquatimer collection: it is also a premiere for the Schaffhausen-based company. Because, for the first time ever, IWC has used bronze for a watch case. The use of a material with such a long history – humans have made and used it for 5,000 years – was inspired by the ship made famous by Charles Darwin’s expedition. Owing to its corrosion-resistance bronze was widely used back then, before the invention of stainless steel, in shipbuilding: for portholes, bells, fittings and nautical instruments, among other things. In keeping with Charles Darwin’s observation that “Nothing is more constant than change”, and depending on the uses to which it is put, bronze takes on a slight patina and gets darker with time. This gives the watch a charm all of its own. While pure copper is relatively soft, the high-tech bronze alloy used by IWC contains aluminium, which makes it harder and more rigid. Apart from this, bronze is rugged and wear-resistant: perfect in a robust watch designed for expeditions and diving. The case and the newly designed external/internal rotating bezel are made of bronze. The material’s warm tone is reiterated in the luminescent coating on the hands, indices and the quarter-hour scale on the internal rotating bezel. A dynamic contrast is provided by the matte black rubber coating on the crown and push-buttons. The hardwearing material also makes the chronograph’s control elements easy to grip. The strap, with the new, patented IWC bracelet quick-change system, is likewise made of black rubber.
The Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Expedition Charles Darwin” in bronze is a homage from IWC Schaffhausen to the great naturalist of the same name, whose observations on the Galapagos Islands led him to fundamental conclusions about the diversity of species.
Like all the models of the latest Aquatimer generation, the chronograph features the innovative external/internal rotating bezel with the IWC SafeDive system. In order to mark the starting point of a dive or other event, the wearer turns the bezel, which clicks audibly into place in one-minute intervals, until the triangle on the internal rotating bezel points to the minute hand. During a dive, the diver can see how long he has already been underwater simply by reading the time off the scale on the internal bezel. The SafeDive system ensures that the rotating bezel on the interior of the watch only moves anticlockwise. This means that the elapsed dive time can only be extended and not shortened if the diver moves the bezel accidentally, and there is enough oxygen to ascend in any case. A newly designed sliding clutch system transmits the movement of the bezel to the inside of the case. The sophisticated mechanism is concealed under a protective cover at “9 o’clock”, and is the feature that immediately identifies the new Aquatimer generation.
For the chronograph’s “engine room”, so to speak, IWC’s engineers chose the 89365 calibre, which is manufactured entirely in IWC’s own workshops. Fitted with IWC’s efficient double-pawl winding system, and protected against shocks and impacts, it is the perfect choice for a watch designed to be worn wherever and whenever things start getting tough. When recording times, the central chronograph hand shows the stopped time in seconds, while the hand in the subdial at “12 o’clock” displays the number of elapsed minutes. The watch also has an integrated flyback function: when the reset push-button is pressed, the chronograph seconds hand jumps to zero and instantly starts recording a new time. The small seconds hand rotating at “6 o’clock” indicates that the watch is functioning normally. It can also be stopped for synchronization purposes. The engraving on the back of the watch shows a distinctive portrait of Charles Darwin, whose revolutionary theory of evolution changed the thinking of human beings forever. Equipped with water-resistance to 30 bar, this special edition is particularly suitable for modern expeditions both above and below water.
IWC Schaffhausen has been a partner of the Charles Darwin Foundation since 2009, offering support to the non-profit organization in the form of substantial sponsorship. Over 100 employees work tirelessly to preserve the Galapagos Islands against human settlement, mass tourism, pirate fishing and species subsequently introduced. Today, the greatest threat posed to indigenous species comes from invasive plants and animals, which destroy their natural habitat. Of all the birds, the mangrove finch, one of the Darwin finch subspecies, is severely threatened by an introduced species of fly. At present, only approximately 70 of these intelligent birds, which are even able to use tools to obtain food, remain. It is a race against time to protect this wonderful example of evolution at work from extinction. Tireless researcher that he was, Charles Darwin (1809–1882) once said: “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” His life’s work is reason enough to do everything to preserve the marvellous biodiversity of the Galapagos.
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