The Aquatimer Automatic, Just In Time For Spring

The weather is finally starting to warm up here in New York (a little bit at least) and as we swap sweaters for polo shirts, we’ll be looking for some new watches to wear as well. As we start to look forward to sunny vacations, nothing seems more appropriate than a sturdy dive watch that can go anywhere. Enter the new Aquatimer Automatic.

While many of the new Aquatimers come in larger case diameters, the basic Aquatimer Automatic measures 42mm across, making it extremely versatile. Alright, maybe it’s not quite the right fit with a suit at the office, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. The watch feels robust on the wrist and is definitely not one to be treated gingerly. You can really live in this watch and not worry about it one bit.

Although its the smallest and most basic member of the new Aquatimer collection, it does include all the features of the new family. This includes the SafeDive bezel system, which uses the external rotating bezel to turn the internal timing bezel. It turns in 1-minute increments for precise dive timing. There’s also the quick-change bracelet system, which lets you swap the heavy-duty bracelet for the lighter rubber strap without using any tools. For this time of year, the bracelet is perfect in most situations.

One of our favorite things about the new Aquatimer Automatic is the dial/bezel treatment. Both color options, black and silver-coated, look extremely high-quality with the printing crisp and clean and enough background texture to add interest. The Super-Luminova is every bit as bright as what you’d expect from a hardcore dive watch. 

You can learn more about the Aquatimer Automatic here.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

A Watch For (And With) A Big Date

Friday is a pretty big date – Valentine’s Day. So, to get ready, we’re going to take a last minute look at the Portofino Hand-Wound Big Date. Whether you need the complication to make sure you don’t miss the holiday or you just like it, the Big Date is a modern classic in the making.

Sure, the Portofino Big Date debuted less than a year ago at Watches&Wonders in Hong Kong, but it already feels like a core part of the Portofino collection. It combines the simple case shape with gently curved lugs, classic dial with baton markers, and beautiful leaf shaped hands that tie the entire family together.

It is though the most complicated member of the Portofino family. At 12 o’clock, just below the lone Roman numeral, is the big date complication, which uses two disks to display the two numerals. To the left, just around 9 o’clock is the power reserve indicator for the hand-wound 8-day movement. Down at 6 o’clcok a large sub-seconds register finishes things off. Because of the large dial in the 45mm case, none of this looks crowded or cluttered.

Turning the case over, you’ll find the in-house calibre 59230 movement. The movement is hand-wound, meaning there is no rotor to get in the way of admiring the rest of the mechanics. The large bridges are just short of looking austere, giving little looks at components like the large barrel at 12 o’clock and the balance down at 5 o’clock. When you pull the crown, you’ll see the balance stop along with the small seconds hand on the dial.

Sure, the 45mm size is substantially larger than what you might expect from a relatively dressy watch like the Portofino Big Date, but it does make the watch seem a little more casual. Santoni alligator straps finish off both the red gold and white gold versions of the Big Date, making it perfect for, well, that big date.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

Another Look At The IWC Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph

First released in 1992, the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph is one of the mainstays of the Pilot collection from IWC. It is equal parts complication and utility, combining a split seconds chronograph with an otherwise function-driven package.

The current incarnation of the Double Chronograph comes in at 46mm in diameter to give it that flying instrument look and to maximize legibility (the original was 42mm, in case you were wondering). You’ll notice that “extra” pusher at 10 o’clock that you wouldn’t find on a typical chronograph. This activates the split seconds hand, which allows you to time intervals within a larger time.

This split is actually powered by a module fitted to an existing chronograph calibre. While some purists might get upset about it not being “fully integrated,” IWC actually pioneered the use of this module and held the exclusive patent for decades. This technology made a split seconds chronograph accessible to people who did not want to spend upwards of $100,000 on a watch, putting the function of the mechanism above any pretensions.

Like the other Pilot’s watches, the Double Chronograph has a closed back to preserve the antimagnetic properties of the soft iron cage that protects the movement. The matte black dial is punctuated by red accents next to the altimeter-style date window, the tip of the chronograph seconds hand, and the running seconds hand. 

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

Cycling The Tortour With IWC And Laureus

Summer is the time for the world’s most important cycling events. The hills of Switzerland make a great setting for a long distance tour and that’s exactly what the Tortour captures. The multi-day, non-stop race covers over 1000km and nearly 13,000 meters of altitude changes, pushing both individuals and teams to the limits.

The event begins at the IWC Arena in Schaffhausen and the finish line is in Neuhausen, just a few kilometers down the road from IWC’s Schaffhausen manufacture. One of the Tortour’s missions is to promote sport in Switzerland and because of the local focus many members of the IWC team participate in the event itself. This includes CEO Georges Kern and other Schaffhausen-based employees, as well as friends of the brand, official and otherwise. Kern’s team, Laureus 2, finished second in its category this year.

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This year’s race began Thursday, August 15th and concluded three days later on Sunday, August 18th, though many of the top competitors finished in much shorter times. For instance, men’s single champion Dani Wyss completed the 1051.5 km course in only 38 hours and 42 min. This works out to an average speed of 26.07 km/h or 16.20 mph. 

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IWC is a sponsor of the Tortour alongside longtime partner the Laureus Foundation. We have told you about the Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph Laureus Sport For Good Edition before, but IWC’s connection to Laureus extends far beyond this collaborative watch. Together, IWC and Laureus work to give underprivileged children across Switzerland opportunities to enrich their lives through sports and outdoors activities. 

For more, check out IWC’s Facebook Page as well as coverage of the Tortour on Youtube

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

Welcoming Summer With The Portofino Family

Well, tomorrow (June 21) is the first official day of summer. While some places have been feeling summery for weeks and others are still a bit chilly, it’s time to get excited for the relaxing summer days ahead. So today we’re going to look at some watches named for a place that exemplifies summer, the Portofino family.

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Portofino is a picturesque town on the coast of northwestern Italy, not too far from the French Riviera. Stucco houses, cobblestone streets, and yachts sitting in the Mediterranean make it almost a perfect distillation of a dreamy summer day. The connection with mid-century Hollywood certainly doesn’t hurt the appeal either. And it is for this place that IWC’s family of clean, straightforward watches is named.

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There are three main references in the Portofino family - the three-hand Portofino Automatic, the Portofino Chronograph, and the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days. The Portofino Automatic is a straightforward all-purpose watch that you can wear in almost any situation. The stainless steel models can be paired with either a black or white dial and either an aligator strap or a Milanese mesh bracelet, offering a variety of combinations. There are also 18k red gold options, and in particular the ardoise dial is quite handsome.

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Adding a complication to the mix, the Portofino Chronograph offers a lot of the same design cues as the Automatic. Applied baton markers and roman numerals at 12 and 6 sit on black or white dials (again with aligator or mesh strap options) and the Chronograph registers strike a nice balance between readability and subtlety - this is definitely a refined chronograph and not an in-your-face sport watch. 

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Finally there is the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days, the only member of the Portofino family to contain an in-house IWC movement. The Calibre 59210, as you might expect from the name of this watch, is manually wound and has a massive 8-day power reserve. You can get a great look at this beautiful, classic movement through the sapphire caseback on both the steel and red gold versions of the Hand-Wound Eight Days.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

Two New Ambassadors Join IWC Schaffhausen

With the launch of the latest Ingenieur family earlier this year at SIHH, IWC announced an enhanced partnership with Mercedes AMG Petronas. Both the Ingenieur Chronograph Racer (more generally) and the Ingenieur Chronograph Silberpfeil (more specifically) celebrate this connection to Formula One. 

To continue the partnership, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, both prominent members of the Mercedes AMG Petrona Formula One Team, have been named this week as IWC ambassadors. Both drivers are already passionate about watches, making the relationship a natural one. Rosberg’s first watch was even an IWC, which was given to him by his father years ago.

CEO of IWC Schaffhausen Georges Kern says of the drivers, “Lewis and Nico are two amazing personalities who work every day at getting that little bit more performance out of themselves and their cars.” At the announcement, both drivers were presented with watches from the Pilot’s collection.

This is a partnership that will continue to develop over the coming years and we’ll be sure to bring you the latest as it does. 

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

For The Love Of Cinema In Cannes

It’s not exactly breaking news that IWC has a strong partnership with the film industry. We’ve told you before about IWC’s support of both the Tribeca Film Festival and the Beijing International Film Festival, and this week IWC was in the south of France at the Cannes Film Festival.

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On Monday evening, IWC hosted the For The Love of Cinema dinner, with guests including actors, directors, models, race car drivers, art luminaries, and others. It brought together individuals from the various industries with which IWC is involved, allowing Formula One drivers to mix with movie stars. 

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While a private concert by Jamiroquai was certainly one of the evening’s highlights, the real focus was on the presentation of the IWC Filmmaker Award. For Cannes 2013 the award was presented to screenwriter Alan Trustman. While you might not know Trustman’s name at first, you’ve doubtless enjoyed his films, including The Thomas Crown Affair (both the original and the remake), Bullitt, and They Call Me Mister Tibbs!

Along with the award, Trustman was presented a special watch by IWC CEO Georges Kern. The special Portuguese Chronograph Classic (which you can read all about here) is engraved with the words “For the Love of Cinema” on the caseback.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

A Closer Look At The New Portuguese Chronograph Classic

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Not too long ago IWC announced the new Portuguese Chronograph Classic, an in-house flyback chronograph to augment the reference 3741 chronograph that so many people love. Although this year is the year of the Ingenieur family, the Portuguese Chronograph Classic is definitely worth a closer look.

The biggest development in the Portuguese Chronograph Classic is the use of the in-house caliber 89361, which has a number of awesome features. First off is the flyback mechanism, which, combined with the hacking sub-seconds register at 6 o’clock, speaks to the navigational history of the Portuguese family.

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Looking at the dial you’re probably wondering where all the sub-registers are for the chronograph, and the answer is that both minutes and hours (up to 12) are nested at 12 o’clock. The caliber 89361 displays elapsed time this way to make reading the chronograph time just as intuitive as reading out the time of day. No fussing with multiple subdials here.

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The 89361 is automatically winding and has a 68-hour power reserve, plus there is a date window at 3 o’clock on the Portuguese Chronograph Classic for good measure. You can see this amazing in-house movement through the expansive sapphire caseback.

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The Portuguese Chronograph Classic comes in a variety of configurations. You choose from either an 18k red gold or stainless steel case and a silver-plated or slate-colored dial, offering four very different looks.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

Changing Time

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It’s that time of year - everyone is adjusting their clocks and watches to reflect summer time as the days get longer and longer. On March 30th, Schaffhausen will turn its clocks forward one hour, so we thought it appropriate this week to discuss a watch that is all about adjusting the time on the fly - the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer.

The Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer starts with the same foundation as IWC’s other Pilot watches - there is the matte black dial with extremely legible white numbers and markers, broad, easy to see hands, and the altimeter-inspired triple date window. It even retains the anti-magnetic soft-iron inner case and hacking seconds functions. But, added to all this are 24-hour and cities rings around the perimeter of the main dial, offering a whole new realm of functionality.  

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Reading the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer is very straightforward. The main dial tells you your local time, and your current timezone is indicated by the arrow at 12 o’clock pointing to the corresponding timezone on the cities ring. Adjusting your local time, forwards or backwards, can be done simply with the crown, which can either fully set the time to the second or jump full hours one at a time. Then, to read the time in any of the 24 timezones on the ring, you simply read the hour on the 24-hour dial that sits next to the timezone in which you want to know local time. Easy enough, right?

Drawing on the real military heritage of the IWC Pilot’s watch, the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer also includes UTC (Universal Tim Coordinated), a military standard time allowing coordination of forces all over the world. It might not be something you’ll use on a daily basis, but it’s a nice nod to the history of the IWC Pilot. 

So whether you’re moving across timezones, or just adjust the time in your own, it doesn’t get much easier than with the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen

It’s Finally (Balance) Spring Time

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Well, it’s officially the first day of spring - though depending on where you live, it might not feel like it quite yet. To celebrate, we thought we would take a look at one of the most important parts of any watch, the balance spring.

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Though it is tough to imagine, balance springs are a relatively recent invention in the history of timekeeping. The first balance spring was invented in 1675, finally creating a reliable alternative to the pendulum as a regulating organ. But it wasn’t until Abraham-Louis Breguet arrived in the eighteenth century that we a more precise form of balance spring that is still used in top-tier watchmaking today.

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IWC employs Breguet springs in its in-house calibers 51000 and 59000 (found in watches such as the Portuguese Automatic and Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days), which is no simple feat. Getting the spring shaped just-so, conforming to a special Phillips curve, requires skilled watchmakers to manually pull and twist the spring under a microscope. Tolerances can be as little as hundredths of millimeters, and the process is both expensive and laborious. 

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But what about the balance spring allowed the modern watch to develop as it has? To begin with, it provides a compact solution to a problem that previously required more massive responses - you can’t exactly carry a pendulum around all day, let alone keep it moving at a constant rate. And this brings us to the second innovation, consistency. Breguet’s coil allowed for an extremely accurate beat-rate to be set with the balance wheel, and advances in material sciences have allowed us over the last few decades to produce springs more consistent over time than ever before.

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The most significant weakness of the balance spring is its susceptibility to gravity, and thus the tourbillon was born. In a pocket watch, which sat in one vertical position all day, the balance spring would be pulled down by gravity, negatively impacting accuracy. By constantly rotating the balance in a cage, this effect is distributed evenly on all parts of the spring, eliminating the inconsistencies. In  wristwatches this is much less of a problem, though watching the balance spring beat away inside an elegantly spinning tourbillon is still a beautiful sight.

-HODINKEE for IWC Schaffhausen