PARTNERSHIP FOR AN ENDANGERED PARADISE
Basking in the sunshine on the igneous black rock, the iguanas – both terrestrial and marine varieties – look more like fairy-tale dragons. The flamingos and turtles enjoy the warmth on land. In the glittering, turquoise-green coves, squadrons of manta rays patrol the shallows while sea lions cavort in the cool waters of the Humboldt Current. Hammerheads circle at lower depths. The Galapagos Islands, 1,000 kilometers from the South American mainland, are one of the last natural paradises on earth. Forty percent of the fauna living in the archipelago can only be found here.
The budding British naturalist Charles Darwin visited the Galapagos Islands in September 1835 in the course of an expedition. He found a unique plant and animal ecosystem that differed from one island to the next, and included the finches that now bear his name. The observations he made here formed the essence of his lifework, “The Origin of Species”, which was published in 1859 and has since been the basis of the modern theory of evolution.
Unfortunately, this renowned laboratory of evolution is now under serious threat. The archipelago, declared part of mankind’s world heritage by UNESCO in 1978, is in constant danger from animals and plants introduced due to human activity. These jeopardize the unique Galapagos ecosystem by altering habitats and competing with the native wildlife. Pressure also comes from expanding tourism and development. Despite efforts, sharks continue to be hunted for their fins and thrown back into the sea, where they die a slow death.
The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF), established in 1959, is conducting a brave campaign to keep the sensitive ecosystem alive. As part of an international network, and in close partnership with the Ecuadorian government, CDF is dedicated to providing knowledge and assistance through scientific research and complementary action for the protection of the islands’ fauna and flora. However, in order to sustain its work, the CDF is largely dependent on donations. For years now, IWC has been committed to the principle of sustainability. The Schaffhausen-based company donates a considerable sum to ensure that CDF can continue its important work.
The involvement of IWC Schaffhausen in the exploration and protection of the fragile underwater world has a long tradition: indeed, the company’s connection with scuba diving goes back to the 1960s. It was the sport’s growing popularity that prompted IWC to launch the first Aquatimer watch in 1967. It was pressure-resistant to 20 bar and equipped with an internal rotating bezel that showed dive time. In 1982 came the first diver’s watch made of titanium: pressure-resistant to 200 bar, with an external rotating bezel, the Ocean 2000 created a furor.
It was in 1997 that IWC unveiled the GST sports watch line, which rapidly became a symbol of ruggedness combined with suitability for everyday wear. The inventive spirit of IWC’s engineers then led to the GST Deep One in 1999. This eye-catching diver’s watch in its titanium case was the first IWC watch with a mechanical depth gauge. The Aquatimer Deep Two, launched in 2009, is a worthy successor.
In 2009, precision, reliability and sophistication, together with the numerous technical improvements made to the new Aquatimer generation, once again underpinned the Schaffhausen-based company’s aspirations to be in the leading position in the world of mechanical watchmaking. The most striking modification to the diver’s watches, which have also become larger overall, was the external rotating bezel with its inset sapphire glass. Its underside is treated with a thick coating of Super-LumiNova®*, which guarantees that the dive time can be read off even in adverse lighting conditions with poor visibility. The chunky external rotating bezel can be turned anticlockwise even with thick gloves and clicks securely into place. Thanks to the quick-change system** the stainless steel bracelet can now be exchanged in seconds – without the need for any special tools – for a rubber or hook-and-loop strap. The latter allows the watch to be worn over a diving suit.
With the Aquatimer Chronograph in 18-carat red gold, IWC launched its first diver’s watch in a case made of precious metal in 2009. Undoubtedly the most impressive feature on the Aquatimer Deep Two is its precise mechanical depth gauge, which indicates current dive depth as well as the maximum depth attained in the course of a dive down to 50 meters. The bold colors chosen for the Aquatimer Chronograph are particularly striking, with a white or signal yellow arc for the first quarter-hour and a black dial. The other model features a combination of blue and white. The outstanding feature of the Aquatimer Automatic 2000 is its unusually high pressure-resistance of 200 bar. With its high-quality rubber-coated case, the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands feels every bit as good as it looks.