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The Man’s Guide to
Haute Horlogerie

The development and continuous improvement of movements, functional displays and cases has been part of IWC’s philosophy since 1868. Complications such as the perpetual calendar, constant-force tourbillon and minute repeater are not only historically significant achievements in the art of watchmaking but also the fruit of the company’s in-house design and development efforts. With the video series “The Man’s Guide to Haute Horlogerie”, which consists of 7 episodes dedicated to iconic complications, IWC gives you an insight into the world of Haute Horlogerie made in Schaffhausen.

An Atelier on the Rhine

Haute Horologerie, or High Horology in English, literally means “high watchmaking”. In a sense, all fine watchmaking is “high” – producing a fine watch at IWC Schaffhausen requires finesse, skill and meticulous craft.

Pad Printing

Open the grey painted door with its tiny peephole in the industrial estate of Neuhausen near Schaffhausen and your ears immediately pick up on a measured, almost technostyle beat.* It hisses and clicks and rasps.

When a Complication is Grande

George Mallory, the famous British mountaineer who lost his life ascending Mt. Everest, was asked in 1924 why he would attempt that climb. His reply is among the most famous about mountaineering: “Because it's there”

Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium

The new IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium is a top-quality time machine and a masterpiece of engineering at its finest built to appeal to men

It's Star Time

The Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia is another star up in the firmament of Haute Horlogerie radiating from IWC Schaffhausen. Ten years of intensive development work have gone into this impressive masterpiece

A Dream of a Watch

The Grande Complication celebrated its 20th birthday in a new case and joined the Portuguese family. Its suitability for everyday use and the wealth of fascinating functions remains unmatched

Icons of good style

The Portuguese Automatic, whose timeless elegance is matched by its technical perfection, makes its grand entrance as a classic horological beauty

Experiences

The ‘prima donna’ of the Portuguese family

The newest Portuguese Tourbillon

Text — Manfred Fritz Photos — Felix Streuli, Hans-Ruedi Rohrer Date — 1 January, 2010

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—The Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde is available in platinum and in 18-carat red gold

It is undisputedly the ‘prima donna’ of the Portuguese family: sinfully beautiful with an indefinable mystique. It no doubt has something to do with its voluptuous proportions, the way it oozes class and the unconventional interpretation of the tourbillon escapement – in this case a seemingly “living 12”, against a deep black back-drop. The Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère has now metamorphosed into the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde and features a date display that reverts to its original position at the end of the month: not only a technically interesting adjunct but also a feature that increases its everyday practicality.

The pleasure of beholding an IWC watch Reference 5044 on a daily basis, unfortunately, will be a rare one, limited to the lucky owners of 500 watches in red gold with a silver-plated dial and of 250 in platinum with a ruthenium black dial. This, simply because the manufacture and assembly of a tourbillon – a rotating cage encapsulating the entire escapement – is one of the most demanding watchmaking exploits of them all. A small team of master watchmakers assemble these exceptional movements, together with the tourbillon, in their entirety, from the tiniest arbour to the hands traversing the dial. They precision-adjust balances to perfection using weight screws or tiny gold shims and finally, when the movement is finished to their satisfaction, secure it in its case. Watchmaking at this supreme level has its price, in the form of the enormous number of working hours. But in terms of precision, the result – as the watchmakers who master the necessary skills would themselves swear – can be compared with no other complication.

The watch that has been referred to as an “homage to the Year of the Portuguese” in 2010 and bears the suffix “Rétrograde” differs from the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère mainly in the eye-catching display that replaces the small seconds. Extending over the lower left-hand section of the generously proportioned dial (the watch is an imposing 44.2 millimetres in diameter) is a scale for the Rétrograde date display, which has been integrated into the seven-day 51900-calibre movement. On reaching the end of months with 31 days – January, March, May, July, August, October and December – the date indicator automatically reverts to the first of the next month.

5044 - Intro
Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde

—The new Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde is available in platinum and in 18-carat red gold

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The most striking feature on the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde is a large date display that automatically jumps back at the end of the month

—In the Rétrograde date display, the hand reverts automatically to “one” after the 31st of the previous month

The date mechanism in the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde makes no distinction between long and short months because this would have considerably increased its height. The watch’s designers therefore had to find a way of making the Rétrograde date display easier to use in the five calendar months with fewer than 31 days, February, April, June, September and November, and hit upon a very elegant solution. In these shorter months, or if the watch has not been worn for some time, the display can be advanced rapidly to “31” and then jumps back to the beginning of the month. It is not even necessary to adjust the time. With the crown in a specific position, the slim date hand can be advanced smartly, a day at a time, until it reaches the end of the calendar month, and then snaps back instantaneously to the beginning of the month. At the risk of appearing facetious, we have a remarkable watch making great leaps backward, into the future.

The small seconds hand that used to be found in this position is no more. Small matter: the tourbillon is a more than adequate substitute and the tiny steel cage, with its three characteristic bars, takes this function in its stride. As in the watch’s predecessor, a seven-day power reserve display on the right-hand side of the dial tells the wearer how much energy remains stored in the barrel. The power itself is transmitted very efficiently via the tried-and-tested Pellaton winding system featured in this family of calibres.

The flying – in other words, cantilever-mounted – minute tourbillon consists of 81 parts and weighs just 0.433 grammes. It is the visual centrepiece of the entire dial and rotates against the backdrop of the black lower part of the cage: a wheel which revolves with the cage through 360° once a minute.

In the previous model, the tourbillon was highlighted against a background decorated with Geneva stripes. In the new Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde it is set into the inner surface of a highly polished ring, in which the filigree parts of the tourbillon are reflected. Apart from its technical sophistication, an escapement like this is also a feast for the eyes – from the back, too, thanks to the see-through sapphire glass cover.

The 500 watches in red gold have solid gold appliqués on the silver-plated dial, while the red gold-plated feuille hands typical of the Portuguese show the time. The edition of 250 watches in platinum features a discreet, grey dial with rhodium-plated hands and appliquéd indices. Both watches are supplied with leather straps and an IWC folding clasp in either red gold or platinum, with an inlaid red gold medallion bearing the Probus Scafusia stamp.

Explore More Articles
The Man’s Guide to
Haute Horlogerie

The development and continuous improvement of movements, functional displays and cases has been part of IWC’s philosophy since 1868. Complications such as the perpetual calendar, constant-force tourbillon and minute repeater are not only historically significant achievements in the art of watchmaking but also the fruit of the company’s in-house design and development efforts. With the video series “The Man’s Guide to Haute Horlogerie”, which consists of 7 episodes dedicated to iconic complications, IWC gives you an insight into the world of Haute Horlogerie made in Schaffhausen.

An Atelier on the Rhine

Haute Horologerie, or High Horology in English, literally means “high watchmaking”. In a sense, all fine watchmaking is “high” – producing a fine watch at IWC Schaffhausen requires finesse, skill and meticulous craft.

Pad Printing

Open the grey painted door with its tiny peephole in the industrial estate of Neuhausen near Schaffhausen and your ears immediately pick up on a measured, almost technostyle beat.* It hisses and clicks and rasps.

When a Complication is Grande

George Mallory, the famous British mountaineer who lost his life ascending Mt. Everest, was asked in 1924 why he would attempt that climb. His reply is among the most famous about mountaineering: “Because it's there”

Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium

The new IWC Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium is a top-quality time machine and a masterpiece of engineering at its finest built to appeal to men

It's Star Time

The Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia is another star up in the firmament of Haute Horlogerie radiating from IWC Schaffhausen. Ten years of intensive development work have gone into this impressive masterpiece

A Dream of a Watch

The Grande Complication celebrated its 20th birthday in a new case and joined the Portuguese family. Its suitability for everyday use and the wealth of fascinating functions remains unmatched

Icons of good style

The Portuguese Automatic, whose timeless elegance is matched by its technical perfection, makes its grand entrance as a classic horological beauty