In IWC’s specialities department, the equivalent of watchmaking’s Formula 1 takes place on a daily basis. Except that it is extremely quiet and demands infinite patience. Hansjörg Kittlas and his colleagues literally plunge themselves into the narrow passageways and endshake between wheels, pinions, screws and springs. Using their tweezers rather like cranes, they position individual parts where they belong, test their functions, and, where necessary, file and polish them.
The tourbillon, which has 82 parts and tips the scales at just 0.653 grams, is assembled separately on a small bridge.
If needed, ultra-thin gold washers are mounted under the weight screws to ensure perfect poise in the balance. The Breguet spring, with its bent overcoil, is secured in place, the pallet lever and escape wheel are positioned, and the cage, made of steel, is mounted. The same watchmaker also assembles the actual movement, a 51900 calibre. The most exciting and satisfying moment, according to Kittlas, comes when the finished tourbillon and the watch engage with each other for the first time: in other words, when power from the barrel and wheel train is connected, and it runs. After this, the entire mechanism is dismantled, oiled and re-assembled. The entire process, including casing-up, is the sole responsibility of one person.