This is a big year for IWC – the watchmaker is turning 150 years old. To celebrate, we’re getting a pretty expansive collection of watches that range from the very simple to the unbelievable complicated, most based on existing models to some degree or another. The full collection will be unveiled in just a few weeks at SIHH 2018, but for now we’ve got five watches to start with. The most striking of the bunch is the Pallweber, which is based on an archival pocket watch from the nineteenth century – Jack has a full story about that one right here. What I’ve got for you here is a quartet of limited edition models that give a pretty good sense of what’s to come in January and how IWC is celebrating its biggest birthday yet.
Before getting into the individual watches, there are a few general themes and design choices to talk about. First, there are the dials. In its early days, IWC made pocket watches with really stunning enamel dials. Some of these carried through into the wristwatch era, but they’ve basically disappeared into the archive as of late. In tribute to these watches, IWC has fitted the Jubilee pieces with lacquer dials with printed markers meant to emulate the glossy, high-contrast look of the originals. Each receives 12 base coats of lacquer, before being brushed, polished, and then printed with the appropriate markings. They’re available in bright white (with blued hands) or deep blue (with rhodium-plated hands).
The Jubilee watches also all come on the same black alligator straps, meant to give them a dressed-up look. Likewise, each bears a commemorative "150 Years" logo, either as a medallion on the movement (for those with open backs) or a caseback engraving (for those with closed backs). These traits carry through from the most basic models all the way up to the grand complications.
As I said, the full collection won’t be shown until January at the SIHH (don’t worry, we’ll have all the coverage for you live from the show, as always). However, here are four pieces to get you started:
Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition ‘150 Years’
Let’s start with the big guy. This watch uses the constant force mechanism that was first developed for the Sidérale Scafuisa, which debuted all the way back in 2011. IWC felt like this was the right time to give the constant force tourbillon new life, and with this watch it’s definitely the centerpiece.
This watch has a massive 46mm platinum case that’s 13.5mm thick and in the classic Portugieser style. The white lacquer dial and blued hands offer tons of contrast, and in addition to the tourbillon at nine o’clock, there’s a moonphase display at one o’clock that is accurate to one day in every 577.5 years. Not bad, right? The tourbillon has an extremely dramatic look, supported by a vertical bridge and enveloped by a metal chapter ring for the seconds display. It is at once industrial in sensibility and refined in execution in a way that is pretty unique in today’s market.
The movement is the new hand-wound caliber 94805, which features an impressive 96-hour power reserve (there’s a power reserve indicator on the dial at 4:30 too). The striped bridges and three-quarter plate construction give the movement a really powerful look, again echoing the appearance of the dial. Set just off-center is the "150 Years" medallion that you’ll find across the Jubilee collection.
The Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition ‘150 Years’ is a limited edition of just 15 pieces, priced at $253,000.
Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Editon ‘150 Years’
One could definitely make an argument that this is actually the most complicated watch here. And it’s another serious, serious timekeeper. The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Editon ‘150 Years’ is exactly what it sounds like: a classic Portugieser case in red gold with a clean white lacquer dial (with the black printing and blued hands) indicating the day, date, month, year, moonphase, and seven-day power reserve, all while displaying a tourbillon at 12 o’clock. Like I said, it’s pretty serious.
This watch runs on the new caliber 51950, the first IWC movement to have both a perpetual calendar and a dial-side tourbillon. As you might expect from the reference number, this movement is based on the earlier caliber 51900, but with the QP added. There is a massive gold winding rotor housing the "150 Years" medallion that you can see through the sapphire back. The movement looks every bit the part of a modern IWC caliber.
The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon Editon ‘150 Years’ in red gold is a limited edition of 50 watches, priced at $110,000.
Da Vinci Automatic Edition ‘150 Years’
This might be my favorite execution of the Da Vinci yet. The case is the same 40.4mm stainless steel case that you’ve seen on previous Da Vinci Automatic models, but the details on this version are totally different. Most notably, the seconds are displayed in a sub-dial at six o’clock instead of with a central hand, and there is no date window either. That last bit must have more than a few of you excited, no?
From this angle you can see how rich the blue lacquer looks. Sure, I’d almost always take a real enamel dial over lacquer, but on a watch like this I think the lacquer works really well (and keeps the price down a bit too). To me, this Da Vinci balances the design’s more maximalist elements – the scrolling numerals and fancy lugs – with cleaner finishing touches, which gives a more cohesive look and feel.
Powering the watch is the new IWC caliber 82200, which has the company’s signature Pellaton winding system and a 60-hour power reserve. You’ll also notice the ceramic pawls and heart-shaped cam, meant to increase durability over the long run, along with the "150 Years" medallion set into the winding rotor.
The Da Vinci Automatic Edition "150 Years" with a blue lacquer dial is a limited edition of 500 watches and it will be priced at $9,550.
Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 Edition ‘150 Years’
And, finishing things up, we’ve got this slightly flashy take on the Da Vinci. Sadly we weren’t able to shoot any photos of it ourselves as the prototype wasn’t quite ready, but you can get a good sense from the official press images of what we’re dealing with here. Technically, this watch is identical to the other 36mm Da Vinci models with moonphase (save the lacquer dial and blued hands, of course), but it’s the diamond treatment on the red gold case that really sets it apart. Previous diamond-set models have just featured a diamond-set bezel – this model extends the stones onto the sides of the case and the lugs too. In all, there are 206 diamonds totaling 2.26 carats.
The Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 Edition ‘150 Years’ is a limited editiion of 500 watches, and is priced at $29,900.
Stay tuned for more on the IWC Jubilee collection over the coming weeks and months. This really just scratches the surface.