Engineered masterpieces - IWC’s mechanical watches

 

It all began with the very first Jones calibre, named after IWC’s founder F.A. Jones. This revolutionary mechanical watch movement featured temperature compensating bimetal balances, hand-formed Breguet balance springs, and an elongated index regulator which enabled precision adjustment, all of which marked the height of haute horlogerie at the time. And that was only the beginning. From the elegantly pure and unpretentious Portofino Hand-Wound to the astoundingly complex Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia, IWC continues to deliver the finest technology and most extraordinary design to the world of Swiss luxury mechanical watches.

Balance spring assembly in an IWC mechanical watch

Time machines

 

The mainspring sends energy through the minute wheel to the third and second wheel, all the way to the escapement wheel which in turn triggers the fork pin to drive the balance wheel. These are the fundamentals of a mechanical watch, and they haven’t changed in four centuries. Though the design and components have been refined and optimised. Complications like the perpetual calendar, moon phase, minute repeater and automatic winding have enhanced functionality, just as new materials and construction methods have increased efficiency and reliability.

 

Mechanical milestones

 

The very first Ingenieur, unveiled in 1955, was equipped with the first bidirectional automatic movement, developed by IWC’s Technical Director at the time, Albert Pellaton. The Pellaton winding system enables the rotor to revolve in both directions, which was a significant increase in efficiency of the unidirectional automatic movement so common among Swiss mechanical watches.

Three decades later, master watchmaker Kurt Klaus set out to make a better, less complex, more user-friendly perpetual calendar. It took him four years. And in the end, his solution was comprised of just 81 parts and it was adjustable with a simple twist of the crown. Klaus’s perpetual calendar certainly wasn’t the first, but it was, arguably, the most elegant.

 

Mechanical watch movement with Pellaton winding system
Sidérale Scafusia, IWC’s most expensive mechanical watch

Timeless timepieces

 

Portugieser Reference 325

The Reference 325 was the birth of the Portugieser line. Beneath its elegant dial beat the heart of a pocket watch movement – that was the only way to get marine chronometer grade timekeeping into a wristwatch. That meant the case had a diameter of 41.5 millimetres, which was shockingly large for a Swiss mechanical watch at the time. Nevertheless, it became a true icon and set the standard for all Portugieser to leave the Schaffhausen workshops.

 

Pilot’s Watch Mark 11

The Mark 11 is the very definition of a tool watch. Built for the Royal Air Force, it was engineered to withstand the shock, vibration, and magnetic fields of the cockpit. It remained in service into the 1980s, and forged the design language still seen throughout the IWC Pilot's Watch line – making it one of IWC’s most iconic mechanical watches.

 

Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia

The Sidérale Scafusia is one of the most complex mechanical watches ever created. It took a team of engineers, scientists, and master watchmakers ten years to develop. And it was well worth the wait. This masterpiece of haute horlogerie features the patented Constant-Force Tourbillon for incredibly precise timekeeping – of both solar and a sidereal time. And on the back, a star chart enables the buyer to keep track of his or her unique place in the universe.