11 June 2010 marks the 100th
birthday of Jacques-Yves Cousteau. No other individual in the 20th
century has promoted and influenced research of the world’s oceans as significantly as this legendary personality. Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, partner and sponsor of the Cousteau Society for many years, is proud to dedicate a fifth special edition to “Le Commandant” on this historic anniversary: the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
He wore a trademark red woollen cap and his expeditions gave human beings their first collective view of the depths of the underwater world. Several generations have been fascinated not only by his fantastic television series but also inspired to take up scuba diving and be more heedful of Nature’s needs. Jacques-Yves Cousteau, alias “Le Commandant”, who died in 1997, was not only a pioneer of underwater research but also a leading champion of the cause of protecting the world’s oceans. IWC Schaffhausen, whose first Aquatimer professional diver’s watch in 1967 actively promoted the increasingly popular sport, has maintained a partnership with the Cousteau Society since 2003. Founded by Jacques-Yves Cousteau, the non-profit organisation works tirelessly to protect the world’s oceans. As part of its ongoing cooperation with the Cousteau Society, IWC is helping to finance the restoration of the legendary research vessel, the “Calypso”, as well as previously sponsoring a research expedition to the coral reefs of the Red Sea and honouring the great pioneer of the oceans with four limited special editions. The fifth of these tributes, the Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Jacques-Yves Cousteau, commemorates the illustrious researcher and filmmaker on the occasion of his 100th
birthday, which is celebrated on 11 June 2010. The 44-millimetre stainless-steel case is pressure-resistant to12bar and, with a slate-coloured dial bearing Cousteau’s signature, high- contrast white indices and blue totalisers, transforms the watch into an unmistakable statement on the wearer’s wrist. The chunky external rotating bezel can be turned – only anticlockwise for safety reasons – even when wearing gloves. The four-millimetre-wide sapphire glass ring has six coatings of luminescent Super-LumiNova®*, guaranteeing optimum legibility and luminosity in any kind of visibility, even when night-diving. Engraved on the back of the case is a portrait of the ever-popular Frenchman, encircled by the words “A Tribute to J.Y. Cousteau 1910–2010”. The Aquatimer Chronograph Edition Jacques-Yves Cousteau is secured to the wearer’s wrist by a black rubber strap.
IWC and the Cousteau Society
IWC’s cooperation with the Cousteau Society underscores the common vision of the two partners. A pioneering spirit, perfection and ecological responsibility are the forces that drive two parties who develop technical innovations for underwater exploration and have pinned their colours to the mast on issues like protection of the world’s oceans and the climate. As a carbon-neutral industrial concern, IWC has been supporting the work of the Cousteau Society since 2003. Thanks to a substantial contribution from the Swiss watch manufacturer, the non-profit organisation was able to undertake a research expedition lasting several weeks into the Red Sea to document the present condition of the coral reefs. Their work, consisting of hundreds of photographs, numerous films and a comprehensive database, was based on archive material collected by Cousteau himself.
New expedition in Cousteau’s wake
But IWC Schaffhausen plans to honour Cousteau’s birthday with more than just a special model. On this particular occasion, the company will also be sponsoring a research voyage to be carried out by National Geographic, which will be putting to sea in the wake of Jacques-Yves Cousteau in his second research ship, the Alcyone. The aim of this expedition is to compare Cousteau’s findings regarding the condition of the underwater world back then with new data. Setting out from Marseilles, the crew will pass through the Corsican marine nature reserve of Scandola on the northern side of the Gulf of Porto. The researcher’s next stop is the Medes Islands on the Costa Brava. The area surrounding the islands has been a strictly protected marine reserve since 1990. The final destination for research purposes is the Cabrera archipelago, which in view of its enormous scenic and ecological importance has been declared a marine reserve and national park. Apart from researchers, camera crew and photographers, another man on board the Alcyone is Patrice Quesnel, long-time companion of Cousteau himself. Cousteau had the rotor ship – a combination of sailing ship and engine-powered vessel – designed and built in the early 1980s. The Alcyone embarked on its maiden voyage in1985. Over the past ten years, Quesnel has held the captaincy of the rotor ship, the only one of its kind in the world, on behalf of the Cousteau Society and is also project manager in charge of the restoration of the famous Calypso. The National Geographic expedition will be under way in summer 2010 and, with this research voyage, gives the sub aquatic projects of “Le Commandant” a new and resounding immediacy.