Explore More Articles
IWC_Perfectionists
Perfectionists in their element

Every new in-house movement created by IWC in Schaffhausen involves around 20 specialists from various departments, sometimes working together intensively for years. With the help of state-of-the-art computer technology, the design engineers generate solutions whose elegance can be quite simply breathtaking.

Haute_Horlogerie_quer
All wound up

Before a mechanical watch movement can start moving, it needs an energy source to drive it. That energy source is the mainspring. And while there are some who enjoy engaging with the machine, lovingly winding it by hand, others take pleasure in the automatic mechanism, which will keep the watch running indefinitely, simply from the movements of the wearer's arm.

IWC Oils
Time That Runs Like Clockwork

Depending on the stresses and strains to which they are exposed, around 50 points in the movement are treated with oils and greases developed especially for use in wristwatches.

Test Lab

At IWC Schaffhausen, new watch models are put through a gruelling test program involving up to 50 separate stages that include long-term immersion in warm salt water and being locked away in an environmental chamber. All this guarantees that they will be equipped for everyday use – and much more – when they finally reach their future owners.

Sound_check_engine_AMG_972x426
Sound Check

How the engineers at Mercedes AMG in Affalterbach, southern Germany, create the right engine sound.

HALF_WAY_TO_THE_MOON_Trucks_972x426
HALF WAY TO THE MOON

For the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ Team, following the Grand Prix circus means transporting 30 tons of material in 10,000 individual parts and at least 60 employees to venues on five continents. Of course, they have to ensure that everything arrives there on time what calls for a system and improvisation in equal measure.

Grande Complication Dial Explained
Small World

Time moves the world. The IWC Portuguese Grande Complication is an understated, beautifully designed way of summarizing time as the motor of all change: a time machine that shows a tilted globe on the dial.

89800 Calibre Movement
Eternity in Digits

The IWC-manufactured 89800 caliber, which made its debut in 2009, redefined the digital date display. The triple-disc mechanism in the perpetual calendar features large-format displays for the date and month and, slightly more discreetly, the leap year cycle. All are ingeniously synchronized.

Experiences

Gigantic Observatories

ESO Paranal

Photos — Photos credited below Date — 29 August, 2011

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Experience - ESO Panal - Hero Image
—The future European Extremely Large Telescope. Credit: Swinburne Astronomy Productions/ESO

When night falls over the Chilean desert, Cerro Paranal comes to life. For sitting atop this inhospitable mountainous region is the Very Large Telescope, the flagship of European astronomy and the most advanced optical instrument in the world. In 1999, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) completed the first of four gigantic telescopes, each with mirrors measuring 8.2 metres in diameter. Today, ESO is one of Europe’s leading astronomical research organizations and operates the world’s most scientifically productive observatory.

The pathway to the stars takes us through the desert. During the day the sun beats down mercilessly from a deep blue sky on the Mars-like terrain of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. On 350 days and nights a year there is not a cloud to be seen. Nowhere else on Earth is the air calmer, clearer or drier than it is here. ESO, headquartered in Germany, operates three unique observation points in northern Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. On the upland plateau of Cerro Paranal, at an altitude of over 2600 metres, stands a supernatural-looking complex of four gleaming metal domes, towering up 30 metres into the sky. During the day, their sliding steel walls conceal four telescopes with identical specifications. It is here that the ESO has built a temple to astronomical science. The organization now embraces 15 member states. Their annual contributions amount to around 135 million euros and permit astronomic research at the highest possible level.

Very Large Telescope

At the heart of the observatory on Cerro Paranal are the four main telescopes, each 8.2 metres in diameter, and four mobile auxiliary 1.8-metre telescopes. The group comprising the Very Large Telescope (VLT) is the most highly developed optical instrument in the world and the flagship of European earthbound astronomy. From here, astronomers can peer billions of light years into the Universe. Once the sun has set, the doors, each one weighing several tons, are hydraulically opened and the telescope rotates like a carousel. By this point at the latest, the halls containing the telescope must be empty of people. Merely the warmth of a human body would impair the mirror’s accuracy. Within an hour, the night over Paranal is pitch black and provides an unimpeded view of the clear, star-studded night sky. The Universe feels close enough to grasp. The astronomers begin their shift in front of the computer screens in a control centre slightly below the top of the plateau. It is from here that the telescopes and measuring instruments are manipulated and the incoming data examined. Every night, things are seen on Paranal that no human eye has ever glimpsed before. The VLT generates needle-sharp images and is able to register light from the furthest-flung reaches of the Universe. Antu, Kueyen, Melipal and Yepun are the names of the four main telescopes. In the language of the Mapuche, these are the words used for the Sun, the Moon, the Southern Cross constellation and Venus as the Evening Star. Combined to form a single super telescope they deliver images from the Universe that are many times sharper than those sent by the Hubble telescope, which is located out in space.

Experience - ESO Panal - Sidebar Image 4

—Watch a trailer of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), on Paranal in Chile

A detailed look at the VLT

View Trailer

	Experience - ESO Panal - Interior Image 3
—Paranal Residencia - The linear construction used to fill the natural depression of the ground in this area is evident. Credit: ESO/M.Tarenghi
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Experience - ESO Panal - Sidebar Image 3

—Take a virtual tour through the Paranal platform

Cerro Paranal in 360°

View the Virtual Tour

At home in the Paranal Residencia

The Residencia is virtually invisible. The roof protrudes at ground level from a slope of scree, while the facade is reminiscent of a monastery. Closely packed rows of windows, one next to the other, rise up over four storeys. Munich-based architects Auer+Weber built the accommodation, which elegantly disappears into the mountainside, for around 150 ESO scientists in 2003. In order to make life more comfortable for the people who live in this arid landscape with its extreme climatic conditions, the main lobby has a large glass dome and – rather surprisingly – contains a small tropical garden. Apart from the canteen, lounge, swimming pool and library, a sports hall and cinema give residents a semblance of normality. In March 2008 the world’s best-known secret agent, James Bond 007, spent a few days at the ESO Observatory. The unusual design of the Paranal Residencia inspired director Marc Forster during the shooting of the Bond film “Quantum of Solace”. Maintaining this scientific outpost is expensive and time-consuming. Drinking water, food and all the requirements of everyday life are transported 120 kilometres by truck from Antofagasta, the second-largest city in Chile. Six days a week, three trucks struggle up the steep dirt road carrying just the drinking water. The only item produced on the spot is electricity, thanks to diesel-powered generators. Maintenance of the infrastructure alone costs over 30 million euros per year, excluding salaries.

ALMA will be the world’s most powerful telescope for studying the Universe

Experience - ESO Panal - Interior Image 4
—ALMA antennas under the Milky Way. Credit: ESO/José Francisco Salgado

Astronomical research continues apace

As impressive as the complex on Cerro Paranal may be, ESO is not easily satisfied. In 2003, a decision was made to go ahead with the ultimate astronomical project, and first scientific observations are expected this year. Under construction 5,000 metres above sea level is the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). The largest astronomical project in existence is a revolutionary telescope, comprising an array of 66 giant 12-metre and 7-metre diameter antennas. This enormous project involves personnel from Europe, North America, East Asia and Chile. ALMA will be the world’s most powerful telescope for studying the Universe at submillimetre and millimetre wavelengths, on the boundary between infrared light and longer radio waves. However, ALMA does not resemble many people’s image of a giant telescope. It does not use the shiny, reflective mirrors of visible- and infrared-light telescopes; it is instead comprised of many “antennas” that look like large metallic satellite dishes. With ALMA it will be possible to penetrate the extensive clouds of gas and dust that shroud the birth of stars and areas in which new planets originate. ESO is currently working on another site to accommodate the European Extremely Large Telescope E-ELT, the world’s biggest eye on the sky, which is due to start operations in 2018. With this gargantuan instrument, which has a mirror measuring 40 metres in diameter, astronomers intend to find out how the planets came into existence and whether there is life anywhere else in the Universe.

Experience - ESO Panal - Sidebar Tout Image
Discover the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia launched at ESO's Very Large Telescope

ESO

Explore More Articles
IWC_Perfectionists
Perfectionists in their element

Every new in-house movement created by IWC in Schaffhausen involves around 20 specialists from various departments, sometimes working together intensively for years. With the help of state-of-the-art computer technology, the design engineers generate solutions whose elegance can be quite simply breathtaking.

Haute_Horlogerie_quer
All wound up

Before a mechanical watch movement can start moving, it needs an energy source to drive it. That energy source is the mainspring. And while there are some who enjoy engaging with the machine, lovingly winding it by hand, others take pleasure in the automatic mechanism, which will keep the watch running indefinitely, simply from the movements of the wearer's arm.

IWC Oils
Time That Runs Like Clockwork

Depending on the stresses and strains to which they are exposed, around 50 points in the movement are treated with oils and greases developed especially for use in wristwatches.

Test Lab

At IWC Schaffhausen, new watch models are put through a gruelling test program involving up to 50 separate stages that include long-term immersion in warm salt water and being locked away in an environmental chamber. All this guarantees that they will be equipped for everyday use – and much more – when they finally reach their future owners.

Sound_check_engine_AMG_972x426
Sound Check

How the engineers at Mercedes AMG in Affalterbach, southern Germany, create the right engine sound.

HALF_WAY_TO_THE_MOON_Trucks_972x426
HALF WAY TO THE MOON

For the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ Team, following the Grand Prix circus means transporting 30 tons of material in 10,000 individual parts and at least 60 employees to venues on five continents. Of course, they have to ensure that everything arrives there on time what calls for a system and improvisation in equal measure.

Grande Complication Dial Explained
Small World

Time moves the world. The IWC Portuguese Grande Complication is an understated, beautifully designed way of summarizing time as the motor of all change: a time machine that shows a tilted globe on the dial.

89800 Calibre Movement
Eternity in Digits

The IWC-manufactured 89800 caliber, which made its debut in 2009, redefined the digital date display. The triple-disc mechanism in the perpetual calendar features large-format displays for the date and month and, slightly more discreetly, the leap year cycle. All are ingeniously synchronized.