Hardly any other man of science has changed our view of the world like Charles Darwin. The findings of the expedition made by the British naturalist, who discovered the key to his theory of evolution on the Galapagos Islands almost 180 years ago, are clearly illustrated in the Research Stationon Santa Cruz. The Charles Darwin Research Station, on the second-largest island in the archipelago, was built in 1964 and is today indisputably the scientific centre of the Galapagos. Over 100 scientists, students, teachers and volunteers from all over the globe work tirelessly to research the indigenous flora and fauna and to preserve the Galapagos World Heritage Site from destruction. The Station trains national park guides, organizes seminars for teachers and students, publishes the findings of its research and collects donations. Children and young people are introduced to the topic of environmental protection through a combination of teaching, art and entertainment. All the seefforts are made because the laboratory of evolution is seriously threatened. “We are faced with enormous challenges if we are to preserve the biodiversity of the indigenous fauna and flora on the Galapagos for future generations, ”explains Swen Lorenz, CEO of the Charles Darwin Foundation.“Merely combating invasive species and developing sustainable concepts for acceptable levels of tourism are incredibly costly and labour-intensive. We are very grateful for the support we have received from our long-term partner IWC Schaffhausen.” The Swiss company has sponsored and supported the Charles Darwin Foundation since 2009 and thus made a substantial contribution to the continuation of its research work. Georges Kern, CEO of the watchmaking company: “IWC Schaffhausen pledges itself to ecologically responsible behaviour and pursues a corporate strategy based firmly on sustainability. As the manufacturer of diver’s watches, IWC believes it has a special obligation to preserve the unique world of the Galapagos, both above and below water. We know that the work of the Charles Darwin Research Station is indispensable for the preservation of biodiversity on the Galapagos Islands and congratulate it on its 50th anniversary.” To mark the occasion, IWC has created the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “50 Years Science for Galapagos” (Ref. IW379504), which is limited to 500 pieces. The technically identical Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Galapagos Islands” (Ref. IW379502) symbolizes the commitment IWC has shown to the threatened archipelago since 2009. For the first time ever, this special edition is equipped with the IWC-manufactured 89365 calibre, which has considerably increased its value and status. Part of the proceeds from sales will flow directly into the scientific work of the non profit organization.
Black as the lava on the volcanic islands
The attractive matte black rubber coating on the stainless steel case is a special feature of the two Galapagos editions. It is applied in a complex vulcanization process, during which each individual case is placed in a special mould and subjected to heat and pressure to bond it with the rubber. The material is warm to the touch, very resilient, and gives the watch a chunky feel, which makes the chronograph particularly pleasant to operate. While the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Galapagos Islands” (Ref. IW379502) comes with the familiar black-and-white contrast (black for the lava on the volcanic islands, white for the mist in which they are often shrouded), the hands and indices of the anniversary Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “50 Years Science for Galapagos” (Ref. IW379504) are a striking luminescent blue. The colour will perhaps remind people familiar with the Galapagos fauna of the exotic blue-footed booby. This engaging bird, which early mariners used to ridicule for its trusting nature and waddling gait, flies skilfully and is a fantastic plunge diver when on the hunt. Whole flocks of blue-footed boobies nosedive from enormous heights like arrows into the sea in synchronized manoeuvres: an unforgettable natural spectacle. The hands and indices of the two watches are coated with several layers of Super-LumiNova®* and glow in the dark in two different colours. The diver thus knows immediately which display shows the time of the day and which shows his dive time. The new external/internal rotating bezel makes operation easier with diving gloves or cold fingers. The rotation of the bezel is transmitted through a sophisticated sliding clutch system to the interior of the case and the internal rotating bezel. The IWC SafeDive system ensures that elapsed dive time is not inadvertently shortened. The IWC-manufactured 89365-calibre movement displays elapsed minutes in the upper subdial; times of less than a minute are measured by the central stopwatch hand. The seconds hand in the lower subdial indicates that the watch is running normally and can be stopped to enable synchronization. Thanks to the integrated flyback function, pressing the reset push button brings the stopwatch hand back to zero and immediately starts timing again: a feature that is ideal for measuring decompression stops. Like all the watches in the 2014 Aquatimer generation, the two Galapagos editions are equipped with the practical IWC bracelet quick-change system.
Fifty years of the Charles Darwin foundation
In the 50 years since its inauguration, the Charles Darwin Research Station has achieved much in its mission to document and preserve one of the Earth’s last great natural paradises. Scientifically controlled breeding programmes have saved several species of the legendary Galapagos giant tortoises from extinction. In a struggle lasting decades, imported and feral domestic animals such as goats, dogs, cats and pigs, which represent an enormous danger to indigenous species, have been contained. A quarantine programme helps prevent invasive species from making further inroads: a mammoth task in view of the more than 180,000 tourists who visit annually, numerous cruise ships and a busy airport. Successes important for the islands but also for the surrounding waters have been achieved. In 1998, for instance, a marine reserve was created around the Galapagos. In 2001, the World Heritage Site was extended to include the Galapagos Marine Reserve and became one of the largest marine conservation areas in the world. The Galapagos Islands were listed as a World Heritage Site as early as 1978. Many of the creatures on the Galapagos, such as marine iguanas, sea birds and sea lions, whose habitat includes both the land and the sea, benefit from protection. The Ecuadorian authorities are taking stringent measures to eliminate the practice of finning, when sharks are hunted down and stripped of their fins. But there is still much to do. The Research Station is currently engaged in a struggle to preserve the mangrove finch, a subspecies of the Darwin finches that is threatened by extinction, and of which there are approximately 70 left. The Station’s pride that the Galapagos Islands have yet to lose a species of bird is equalled only by its ambition that this is the way it should remain. With these two special editions, the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “50 Years Sciencefor Galapagos”and the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Galapagos Islands”, IWC Schaffhausen is helping to ensure that the Charles Darwin Research Station will be able to continue its vital field research and educational work well into the future; because part of the proceeds from sales goes directly to the Charles Darwin Foundation. And thus to the fascinating world of the Galapagos archipelago.