Watches: IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Expedition Charles Darwin Bronze (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on June 20, 2014

Located roughly 1,000 kilometres off the Ecuadorian coast in the Pacific Ocean, the Galápagos Islands are famed for their vast number of endemic species. The unique fauna and flora of this archipelago were studied by Charles Darwin during The voyage of the Beagle and the observations and collections he was able to make there largely contributed to his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Today, the Charles Darwin Foundation helps to maintain this incredible ecosystem and to promote scientific research on the biodiversity and environment of the Galapagos. Since 2009, IWC is proud of being one of the many institutions/companies concerned enough about the preservation of the world’s greatest resources to support this deserving Foundation. Each year, some limited edition models in the Aquatimer collection help raise funds to conduct scientific research and, perhaps more importantly, to grow public awareness of the importance of preserving our environment.

With the revamping of the Aquatimer line this year, the Schaffhausen manufacture dedicated no less than three timepieces to this laudable cause: the Aquatimer Chronograph 50 Years Science for Galapagos and the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Galapagos Islands both limited to 500 pieces and what was certainly the most anticipated model from IWC this year, the Aquatimer Chronograph Expedition Charles Darwin. What makes it so special is the use of bronze for the case. This interesting alloy that forms a unique patina over time has received a lot of attention lately and is definitely trendy for sport watches.

Gerald Genta revived it in 2007 with the Gefica Bi-Retro Safari Bronze that Bvlgari later transformed into the Gerald Genta Gefica Hunter GMT Moon Phase in 2012. It has also been part of the Anonimo collection since the inception of this brand. To give only two examples, on could quote the Dino Zei San Marco released in 2012 or the new Militare Chronograph Bronze presented in 2013. Officine Panerai reminded us of the nautical uses of bronze and offered two highly collectible models in this material: the Luminor Submersible 1950 Bronzo in 2011 and the Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Power Reserve Automatic Bronzo in 2013. The Expedition Charles Darwin, though, is the very first model produced by IWC in this alloy.

This 44 mm watch plays on the contrast between the warm red colour of the bronze and the intensity of a deep black. The case is entirely crafted in bronze except for its black rubberised pushers and crown and the steel back engraved with a silhouette of Charles Darwin. It is mounted on a black rubber strap featuring a new texturized pattern and is equipped with the brand’s quick-change bracelet system. The watch is secured to the wrist with a bronze pin buckle.

The dial is also black with bronze accents and boasts a very clean and highly legible layout with the chronograph counter at 12 o’clock facing the small seconds sub-dial located at 6 o’clock and the date window placed at the 3 o’clock position. The large baton hands are filled with two distinct colours of luminescent materials: in the dark, the hours hand appears blue while the minutes hand is green and these colours are repeated on the inner flange and hour markings. This combination is both extremely legible and quite original.

The watch houses IWC’s in-house 89365 bi-compax chronograph calibre. This self-winding movement with 68 hours of power reserve operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour and features a small seconds hacking system for accurate time setting. It is water resistant to a depth of 300 meters, making the Aquatimer Chronograph Expedition Charles Darwin a perfect companion for the summer. Limited to 500 units, this refined sport watch will retail for US$ 11,100.

In conclusion, the Aquatimer Chronograph Expedition Charles Darwin is definitely one of the highlights of the new Aquatimer collection. As we saw, bronze has already been used by other brands but all in all for very few models in limited editions. It thus remains a rarity in the watch world and will ensure this model a highly collectible status. Considering that it is more than fairly priced, I will advise all those interested to act quickly before this Expedition Charles Darwin sells out.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: