We’ve reached the point in SIHH preview season (which is how we watch media folks tend to regard the holiday season) when we would normally reveal which of its collections IWC will be focusing on in 2018. This year, however, things are a bit different. Because in 2018, it will be 150 years since Boston watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones sailed to Schaffhausen, Switzerland, and established the International Watch Company (now known much more commonly by its initials, IWC), which remains the only Swiss watch brand founded by an American. To mark the anniversary, IWC is breaking from its usual tradition of devoting the year’s new product output to one particular family, and instead releasing what it calls its Jubilee Collection — 27 limited-edition models across four families. Read on to discover five Jubilee models that IWC has announced ahead of the collection’s full debut at SIHH 2018.
Despite the watches being spread out among the Portugieser, Portofino, Da Vinci, and Pilot’s Watch collections, the IWC Jubilee collection is united as its own family of sorts by a distinctive aesthetic element: their imprinted dials are all either white, with blued hands, or blue, with rhodium-plated hands, and are finished with multiple layers of lacquer to achieve a look reminiscent of vintage enamel-dialed pocketwatches. All are mounted on black alligator leather straps by Italian footwear maestro Santoni, an IWC partner.
The clear headliner of the collection — at least to this point, barring a yet-to-be-unveiled piece at SIHH in January — is the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years,” a timepiece that not only represents a technical first for IWC but also revives one of the company’s most legendary historical models. The original Pallweber pocketwatches, released by IWC starting in 1884, were the brainchild of Salzburg-based watchmaker Josef Pallweber, who pioneered a digital timekeeping system in which the hours and minutes were displayed by large numerals on rotating disks rather than by hands. Pallweber watches — among the first in history to employ a digital time display — are exceedingly rare today; only about 20,000 were made by IWC, and their commercial success was brief due to the large drain on the watches’ power reserves necessary to operate the heavy disks. The modern wristwatch version — outfitted with an 18k rose-gold case measuring 45 mm in diameter; white, lacquered-finish dial; and a blued seconds hand to complement the digital hours-and-minutes display — solves this historical problem with a new movement equipped with a patent-pending system to drive the disks.
IWC’s manufacture Caliber 94200, the manual-winding movement that powers the Tribute to Pallweber, improves upon the toothed cogs that moved both hour and minutes disks in the original pocketwatches by adding a separate wheel train, with its own barrel, that provides the impulse that advances the single-minutes disk. A release mechanism connected to the main wheel train unlocks the train every 60 seconds and immediately locks it thereafter. After 10 minutes, the single-minute disk nudges the 10-minute disc forward by one position. Every 60th minute, the hour disk jumps to the next numeral. Because the flow of power in the main wheel train is unaffected by the separate wheel train, the movement is able to provide a high level of timekeeping precision and a respectable power reserve of 60 hours. In tribute to the original Pallweber pocketwatches, the watch, which is limited to 250 pieces, has the labels “Hours” and “Minutes” for their respective round windows on the dial. IWC has priced the Tribute to Pallweber at $36,600 (all prices are subject to change).
One of two tourbillon-equipped watches in the Jubilee collection, the Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “150 Years” boasts a 46-mm case made of platinum and a white-lacquered dial with blued hands. It also notably marks the debut of another new in-house movement, Caliber 94805, which combines a constant-force tourbillon with a “perpetual” moon-phase display (meaning it will only need to be adjusted by one day after 577.5 years) — another technical first for the brand. In addition to the patented constant-force mechanism, which transmits completely even impulses to the mechanism and works in conjunction with the tourbillon to achieve what IWC calls an exceptionally high level of precision, the hand-wound movement can also claim an exceptionally long power reserve — 96 hours, or a full four days, as can be observed on a dial-side indicator at 4:30 that joins the moon-phase display between 12 and 2 0’clock and the large tourbillon cage at 9 o’clock. On display through the sapphire caseback, Caliber 94805 is accented by a gold medallion with the IWC Jubilee insignia. The watch is limited to just 15 pieces, and priced at $253,000.
The other tourbillon watch in the collection is a modern tribute to one of IWC’s most groundbreaking complicated watches — the original Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Ref. IW3750, designed by the legendary Kurt Klaus, which made its debut in 1985 at the height of the Quartz Crisis. While that watch boldly challenged the contemporary notion that mechanical complications were a dying category, the new Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Edition “150 Years” makes its own bold technological statement by combining, for the first time in an IWC watch, a tourbillon and a perpetual calendar. This 18k rose gold watch, with a 45-mm-diameter case, white dial, and blued hands, is limited to only 50 pieces and features yet another new IWC movement.
Yet another new in-house movement makes its debut in the IWC Da Vinci Automatic Edition “150 Years,” whose classically simple dial layout, with Arabic hour numerals and small seconds at 6 o’clock, most closely recalls the look of IWC’s original Portugieser watch from the late 1930s, so named because of its being specially ordered by two Portuguese merchants who wanted “a large wristwatch with the precision of a pocketwatch.” Inside the new Da Vinci’s 40.4-mm stainless steel case, and behind its blue dial with rhodiumed hands, beats the automatic Caliber 82200, which is equipped with IWC’s own Pellaton winding system and features several components — such as the pawls and the heart-shaped cam — made of virtually wear-free ceramic. The movement, which stores a power reserve of 60 hours, has a skeletonized rotor with a gold anniversary medallion, and plates and bridges decorated with circular graining and côtes de Genève. This model is limited to 500 pieces and priced at $9,550.
The entirety of the IWC Jubilee collection will be unveiled (and prices finalized) at SIHH 2018 in January. Stay tuned to WatchTime.com as we cover more pre-SIHH product releases over the coming weeks and report live on other new products from the salon in Geneva.