IWC Aquatimer Chronograph Galapagos Islands Edition

 

(IWC ref 3767)

TWG Verdict: 4 out of 5. A tactile diver’s watch with superb functionality in a unique package. Could do with improved water resistance to be classed as a true diver’s watch.

I love the look and, more importantly, the feel of IWC’s Aquatimer chronograph in matte black rubber packaging. The vulcanised rubber around the stainless steel makes for a unique feature of this ‘black’ watch. The process has been executed carefully and produces a superb, high-end feeling finish. The contrast between the black case, dial, bezel and strap against the white of the numerals, hands and markers is particularly striking.

The watch has a mechanical, automatic movement - an IWC modified ETA Valjoux 7750 - with a 44 hour power reserve. The case is 44mm in diameter and around 15mm thick. The Galapagos is incredibly comfortable to wear for long periods.

Interestingly, there is a ‘quick-change’ strap system, but there aren’t any other strap variations. I suspect that the quick-change strap system was used to avoid damage from traditional strap changing tools to the vulcanised rubber case when replacing the strap. 

The Galapagos is a really functional diver’s watch with a very sporty look and feel. The dial, hands and bezel are incredibly easy to read both above and below water. Little finishing details are everywhere on this watch, like the small underlining of the numbers on the bezel to reduce confusion when reading the elapsed dive time, or the contrasting yellow, easy-to-read hacking sub-dial seconds hand. 

I’m a little surprised that, as a diver’s watch, the water resistance is only to 12 bar (120m), but it might not be an issue for the majority of prospective purchasers.

The 12-hour chronograph functions well and the pushers are firm enough to ensure a positive ‘click’ during operation. The skeleton hands on the chronograph sub-dials make a useful contrast, ensuring that they stand out enough to read, but don’t end up looking like hour markers or part of the hour or minute hands. Despite being a relatively busy dial, everything is easy to read.

A new IWC Galapagos retails for over GBP £5,000 (USD $7,500), which is a reasonable premium on the standard Aquatimer, but second-hand Galapagos watches are now available from dealers at around a 20% to 25% discount on full retail price. It should be possible to pick one up at a reasonable price through private sales routes, but, as always, be sure to make all necessary checks to ensure that you are buying an original.