In 2018 IWC celebrates its 150th year as a watchmaking company. To celebrate, the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker plans to unveil a white and blue Jubilee collection at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) mid-January in Geneva. This collection includes a total of twenty-seven limited-edition models from the Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s Watches and Da Vinci families.
IWC looked to the imprinted dials and blue hands from the first Portugieser models (The 1939 reference IW325) for inspiration when creating many of these new anniversary watches. As a result, all the watches in the collection are fitted with either a white dial and blued hands or a blue dial with rhodium-plated hands, and all are finished with black alligator leather straps. Each model also bears the Anniversary inscription “150 Years” either as a medallion or as an engraving.
Below you’ll find a short introduction to the five models in this collection IWC is making available to preview prior to the SIHH. (IWC Pilot watch fans, you’ll need to wait just a few more weeks).
IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition 150 Years
There are many impressive new watches in this anniversary collection, but for many who have had the opportunity to see the debuts, this piece stands out from the others. In an inspired revival of one of the firm’s most successful nineteenth century watches, IWC has remade its Pallweber digital display (jumping hours and minutes) pocket watch to create a new wristwatch unlike anything you’ve seen cross the IWC sales shelf in the past.
In 1884, IWC started producing the first Pallweber handless pocket watches after it retained the caliber’s license from its inventor Josef Pallweber, an Austrian engineer. During the first half of the 1890s IWC manufactured about 20,000 of them.
This first-ever (for IWC) wrist-sized Pallweber (45mm by 12mm) is updated with the IWC-manufactured 94200 caliber that features a patent–pending new solution for the digital display that, while seemingly a simple visual presentation, is actually quite sophisticated.
While toothed cogs moved the discs in the historic Pallweber pocket watches, IWC has updated the system with a more efficient solution. The impulse that advances the single-minute disc is now supplied by a separate wheel train with its own barrel, which differs from that standard single-barrel power behind most wristwatches. A release mechanism that establishes a connection to the watch’s main wheel train unlocks the train every 60 seconds and then immediately locks it again. After ten minutes, the single-minute disc moves the 10-minute disc forward by one position. Every 60th minute, the hour ring jumps to the next numeral.
Because of this separation of power and its built-in efficiencies, the watch offers strong precision and impressive sixty-hour power reserve.
The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” (Ref. IW505002) is built with a red gold case, a white dial with a lacquered finish, white display discs, and a blued seconds hand. The watch is available in a limited edition of 250 in red gold. Estimated price: $36,600 (Note: all prices are subject to change. )
Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “150 Years”
There are several firsts built in to this highly technical piece, offered in a limited edition of fifteen platinum-cased pieces. Primarily, it is IWC’s first to combine a long power reserve (96 hours) with a constant-force tourbillon and a perpetual moon phase display. The moonphase here is also unusual in that it needs to be adjusted by one day after 577.5 years. As with many of the other of the new Jubilee editions, the watch has a white dial with a lacquered finish and blued hands. The movement responsible for the technical superlatives is a new one, Caliber 94805, a manual-wind model with a patented constant-force mechanism that transmits completely even impulses to the escape wheel. Price: $253,000.
Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition “150 Years”
This new piece combines a perpetual calendar with a tourbillon on the dial, a first for IWC. This 45mm red gold watch also offers a white dial with a lacquered finish and blued hands, and is also limited in number (fifty will be made, priced at $110,000 each). New IWC Caliber 51950 is an extension of the basic IWC 51900, but here includes a perpetual calendar. The tourbillon is visible at 12 o’clock because the watch designers opened the calendar advance ring to integrate the moon phase at 6 o’clock in the month display disc. With its solid gold rotor, the automatic winding system generates a power reserve of seven days.
The Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 Edition “150 Years”
With this elegant jeweled model, IWC picks up where it left off in earlier decades when it created a broader collection of diamond-set watches. The Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 Edition 150 Years ($29,900) is cased in red gold and offers a white dial with a lacquered finish and blued hands. It is available in a limited edition of 50 watches. The watch’s moon phase display at 12 o’clock competes for your attention with a case and moving lugs that are completely covered by 206 white diamonds.
The Da Vinci Automatic Edition “150 Years”
Another early 2018 favorite of mine, this simple dress watch with its small seconds at 6 o’clock is the first watch to feature the new IWC-manufactured 82200 Caliber. The watch has a stainless-steel case, a blue dial with a lacquered finish, and rhodium-plated hands and is available in a limited edition of 500 watches. The newly developed caliber is an automatic movement with Pellaton winding and boasts a power reserve of sixty hours. Components in the system subject to pronounced stress, such as the pawls or the heart-shaped cam, are made of virtually wear-free ceramic—a technique which IWC will likely continue as it expands its caliber-development capabilities at its new manufacturing facility in 2018. Price: $9,550.
iW will have more on all the 2018 IWC debuts in January.