- October 4, 2008:
IWC Schaffhausen, the luxury Swiss watch manufacturer, announced the Middle East launch of a special edition of the Aquatimer Chronograph "Cousteau Divers" - the watch that helped to rescue the Calypso - the legendary research ship of Jacques-Yves Cousteau is lying in dry dock and being restored. A new limited edition of the IWC diver's watch will now support completion of the work.
The Calypso still means something to millions of people throughout the world, even though it has been out of service for a long time. The reconstructed minesweeper with which Jacques-Yves Cousteau sailed the seas and organized his diving expeditions, became the best-known symbol for the protection of the world's oceans.
Starting in the 1950s, from the bridge of this ship Cousteau opened the doors to the Earth's underwater paradise for millions of people. After she was sunk in a collision in Singapore harbour in 1996, she was raised and brought to the Maritime Museum in La Rochelle. However, her fate remained uncertain to the concern of many of its supporters. The Cousteau Society, which continues the work of its late commander, is completely in agreement with its Swiss partner IWC on this point: The Calypso must not be allowed to perish. She should be reincarnated as a floating museum and monument to remind humanity to treat its oceans with care.
In October, in an expensive and precisely organized operation, the Calypso was transferred from La Rochelle to the Breton harbour of Concarneau where she will undergo a complete renovation on a special dock. The salvage and transport of the clapped-out ship to the new dock took place thanks to the special edition of the Aquatimer Chronograph "Cousteau Divers" launched by IWC in 2006 - part of the proceeds from this timepiece provided the funds for the first step in the rescue of the Calypso. As homage to the legendary research vessel, an authentic sliver of wood from the Calypso was inlaid in its case back. With the restoration work now under way, the mechanisation will again be supported by IWC, who is launching another "charitable" diver's watch for this good cause.
The Aquatimer Chronograph "Cousteau Divers" is different from its predecessors in that the dial has new colours: marine blue, signal yellow and black, a stylish as well as functionally harmonious combination of colours for the future of the Calypso.
The expensive restoration to make the ship seaworthy will again be supported by the donation of a percentage of the sales profits from the limited edition (2,500 pieces) of the diver's watch. This will ensure that the 42-metre maritime icon with its eventful history remains preserved for future generations. Launched in 1942 as US minesweeper J-826, it was then given over to Great Britain and assigned to the Mediterranean. Then in 1950, a member of the Irish brewing family Guinness purchased the craft and presented it to Cousteau, who remodelled it into a diving and research vessel.
This time, the back of the 44 mm stainless steel case of the new special model of the Aquatimer Chronograph carries a beautiful verre églomisé painting of the Calypso at sea. Circling it is the inscription "Tribute to Calypso" and the edition number, from 1 to 2,500.
As with all the watches of the Aquatimer family, this one also has the practical rotating inner bezel to set the start time of the dive and to read off the diving time elapsed. It is operated via the dual-function reset crown. This means that the operating element is a crown for the rotating bezel and at the same time a reset button for the chronograph. As a diver's watch, the Aquatimer with automatic chronograph movement is pressure-resistant up to 12 bar.