A Re-Imagined Classic: The Vintage Collection Portofino Hand Wound

Classic and timeless designs, reinterpreted with today’s technical innovations. That was the vision behind the IWC Vintage Collection – one piece from each of our six watch families, inspired by the original facets that made it famous.

Portofino photographed in vintage black and white beauty

The Vintage Collection Portofino Hand Wound is a member of this special class, produced in limited quantities for those fascinated by the original. In fact the idea for the first Portofino Hand Wound was born at an IWC company holiday dinner in the late 1970’s, driven by the discussion that there was still and would always be a place for exquisitely crafted hand wound timepieces. As with many now renowned design ideas, this one was sketched on a scrap of paper.

The re-imagined Vintage Collection Portofino Hand Wound, in Platinum

As they discussed and sketched, similarities to a pocket watch emerged. And in the end what was drawn on that paper birthed what was known as Reference 5251, or the wrist pocket watch. Configuring a traditional pocket watch design to a wrist watch required some maneuvering – the placement of the seconds hand, and the addition of a moon phase display. The result though was innovative and breathtaking and led Portofino to become one of the most popular of the IWC watch families.

One mainstay here at IWC Schaffhausen is to respect our heritage while looking forward. So when we created the Vintage Collection Portofino Hand Wound we used advances in technology and design to make a few changes.

The updated placement of the moon phase display, with increased accuracy

To start, the placement of the second and moon phase displays were moved to the traditional 12 and 6 o’clock positions (from their original placement at 9 and 3). The movement, while based on the original Jones calibre, has also been modified (with the use of the 98000 calibre family) to improve the accuracy of the moon phase display. It now deviates just one day per 122 years from the progress of the moon: a subtle change with incredible results.

Vintage Collection Portofino Hand Wound, showing the movement and engraved family name

Offered in platinum (limited quantities), white gold, rose gold, and stainless steel, there are options for any connoisseur to join the Portofino family and pay homage to the days (and holiday dinners) that began it all.

A Champion’s Gear: Swiss Triathlete Ronnie Schildknecht Embarks Upon Ironman Hawaii 2012

Inspiration: it is at the heart of the IWC Challenge series, which we first introduced a few months ago. In this series, we highlight the outstanding accomplishments and continued perseverance of some of the world’s top athletes; they share our focus on hard work, innovation, and being best in your field.

One of those featured is Swiss triathlete Ronnie Schildknecht, a six time winner of Ironman Switzerland. As part of the IWC Challenge series, Ronnie shared with us (and you) how he approaches each event, which of the three segments he feels is his strongest, and what he sees as a need for balance in the level of sacrifice world class athletes give to their sport.

Ronnie Schildknecht with his bike and swimming gear

This year alone he has won three events in Switzerland, and around the world in such places as the USA (Texas), Austria, and South Africa. All these have led him to this point- as he is about to embark upon the ultimate of the year’s races.

Today, we send our wishes to Ronnie as he prepares to compete on October 13 in the Ironman World Championship, in Hawaii. It is a grueling competition amongst the world’s top triathletes. As Ronnie described it, the focus of the event in Hawaii is different because of the winds encountered during the cycling portion, which makes the swimming leg more important than usual.

Just one of Ronnie’s Ironman trophies

When we spoke with Ronnie this week, he kindly took the time to answer a few questions for us about what is in his racing kit – and we thought you may be interested to know what a top athlete finds essential:

Goggles, a cap and a swim suit are essentials for the water

As he has three distinct events, each of them requires particular equipment. For cycling: a trial bike (packed in a box), two helmets, cycling shoes, and spare tubes & tires. For running, he brings two pairs of running shoes. And for swimming, there are a few pairs of goggles and a Sailfish (TM) swim suit.

Ronnie also packs ten water bottles for his bike, sunscreen to prevent burning, and salt tablets to maintain his levels of electrolytes. When training he told us he wears an IWC Aquatimer Chronograph – but that he needs a watch with time splits when racing. Here the Ingenieur Double Chronograph could be useful, with a split-seconds hand that allows you to record lap times while the chronograph seconds hand continues to run.

Ronnie after a recent triathlon win (Source)

Join us in wishing Ronnie the best of luck this weekend in Hawaii, and stay tuned for more exciting athlete profiles on IWC Challenge.

A New IWC Boutique Opens In Zurich - a Lovely Suburb of Schaffhausen

For the past few weeks, scaffolding surrounding the posh Zurich address Bahnhofstrasse 61 read: “Men, your time will come.” The building at this address was being renovated to become the newest IWC Boutique, and with the opening of its doors last week, the edict is now: “Men, your time has come!”

We are excited to announce the latest IWC branded store, in our home country of Switzerland. As we shared two weeks ago on the opening of our Miami location, the boutiques are a unique opportunity for us to bring our customers and fans exclusive product, events, and information about the brand. Situated at the heart of Zurich’s foremost shopping street - it is the place to go when you are in town.

The IWC Schaffhausen boutique at Bahnhofstrasse 61 as seen from the street

The building that houses the boutique was built in 1909, about forty years after IWC itself was founded. And while the site and its surroundings closely reflect our heritage, its design has been modernized to align with the masculinity and sophistication of our products and our customer.

Dark wood, glass, chrome, and leather evoke the rich texture one has come to associate with IWC, and are also elements and hues seen in our timepieces. These are present throughout the boutique.

Inside the store, the well appointed lounge area and presentation of each watch family

Also seen in the new environment is a display window concept, which creates a strong connection with the heritage and birth of each watch family. The history of aviation accompanies the Pilot’s Watch collection, and within this, a set of animated cockpit instruments surrounds our Top Gun line. In another corner, the Italian seaside town of Portofino shines around the collection of the same name. 

The IWC Boutique offers the complete line of timepieces

As with our other IWC Boutiques worldwide, visitors to the Zurich location can expect to find a unique offering of our handcrafted timepieces on display. For the man who finds himself on the Bahnhofstrasse, whether for business or pleasure, number 61 will be a destination replete with the comforts, exclusivity, and service he will be expecting.

New Levels of Innovation: The Minute Repeater

Here at IWC we are quite proud of our commitment to craftsmanship – the care taken to create and deliver a timepiece of irrefutable quality. We are also proud of our dedication to innovation, continuously pursuing new technologies, techniques, and materials to incorporate into our watches.

With the minute repeater mechanism, the level of technical advancement is on a new level: it took 50,000 hours of development, and 250 individual components were used in the launch of the Grand Complication, the first watch to incorporate this special mechanism.

For perspective, 50,000 hours equates to over 5.5 years – a commitment of resources and thought leadership appreciated by haute horology connoisseurs worldwide.

The first Portuguese Minute Repeater

What it is: IWC timepieces that include the mechanism create a different sound to identify the 12 hour denotation, hour, and minute; to put it very simply, using acoustic signals to audibly tell the time. When engaged the mechanism sounds on two gongs tuned to different notes. The total possible number of chimes is: twelve hour chimes, three quarter-hour chimes, and fourteen minute chimes.

The second version of the Portuguese Minute Repeater

While the Grand Complication was the first, it was hardly the last to take advantage of this exquisite mechanism. It was also placed in the Il Destriero Scafusia as well as three more recent versions of the Portuguese Minute Repeater. Now we’ve shared a lot with you about the unique features of the Portuguese watch collection, and the latest to include the minute repeater mechanism is in a class all of its own.

The Portuguese Minute Repeater comes in either Red Gold or Platinum, with a limited edition of only 500 of each. The repeater mechanism consists of 200 parts, one of which solely ensures that the chimes are struck only when the repeating slide is fully engaged. It also boasts a 48 hour power reserve and 98950-calibre movement.

Portuguese Minute Repeater Squelette

Whether you already own one of the timepieces with this renowned mechanism or plan to visit one of the IWC boutiques worldwide to see one, it is definitely an unparalleled experience and one that speaks deeply to the values and mission of IWC Schaffhausen. 

Summer and The IWC Portofino Automatic

Portofino – for some it brings up memories of sailing off the Italian coast. For other an afternoon of racing sports cars around narrow city roads. Maybe you just recollect the enjoyment of an espresso at a sun-dappled café table. Whatever the association, it evokes the masculinity and sophistication of a classic time. Here at IWC the name Portofino also represents one of our most famous timepiece collections, and within it the Portofino Automatic.

The Portofino Automatic in stainless steel and leather band

We created the Portofino family to be a set of timeless watches – continually strong and sophisticated but with a classic design that is appropriate year after year. With its slim styling and rounded edges the Automatic makes an understated yet cultured statement. Offered in both red gold and stainless steel, you can select a traditional alligator leather strap or stunning Milanese stainless steel mesh band.

A beautiful red gold version

But the ease and subtle elegance of this timepiece should not overshadow its masterful precision and technical craftsmanship. As the name attests it is self-winding and with a 42 hour power reserve, leaving you to spend your time enjoying other activities. The 40-millimetre case, light and easy to wear, is perfect for warmer months. Strap it on for a nice dinner, wear it out for poolside Backgammon, or don it for barrel tasting at your favorite vineyard. Whatever your pursuits, and wherever they take you, the Automatic is the perfect accompaniment.

The Automatic with stainless steel mesh bracelet

Whether you decide to make the Portofino Automatic your first foray into the IWC family, an addition to an on-going collection, or as a gift to someone special in your life, it is a watch that will help you hold on to those fond summer memories – from afternoons in an Italian coastal town, or at any dream destination.

An Evening with IWC’s New York City Globetrotters

With the opening of the IWC Flagship Boutique in New York City last month, we at IWC wanted to be a part of the city: to learn about the community, its neighborhoods, and inhabitants. To get the insider’s view, we partnered with local Globetrotters: IWC men, who seek out the world’s most unique experiences and attractions. Before the boutique (our largest worldwide) even opened, we asked these Globetrotters about their favorite parts of the city, where they liked to go, and where they found inspiration.

The exterior of the NYC Flagship boutique

Their responses definitely provided a journey through the city, now housed proudly on iwc.com in a dedicated page called MY NEW YORK. Evan Orensten of Cool Hunting suggested we try burgers at Shake Shack.  We looked at the handmade razors at Min Apothecary after Hodinkee’s Ben Clymer recommendation. And we checked out some new specs with Warby Parker founder Neil Blumenthal. But one thing we know is that the IWC man never rests, and so that was only the beginning.

NYC Globetrotters Josh Spear, Evan Orensten, Neil Blumenthal

On June 13 our NYC Globetrotters and honored guests converged on the Madison Avenue boutique for an evening of conversation, story swapping, and more. Displayed in the store’s second floor was a visual tribute to the great boxer Muhammad Ali. Photos taken by his friend (and personal photographer) Howard Bingham were on display for the Globetrotters and guests to see. They showed an intimate portrait of a true sporting legend.

<!—[if !supportEmptyParas]—>Kevin Ryan (Gilt Groupe CEO) and Ben Clymer of Hodinkee, at the event

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IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Miramar Timepieces on display in the NYC Flagship

Just as Muhammad Ali’s passion was boxing, and Howard Bingham’s was photography, we enjoy learning about the passions of IWC customers and fans around the world, and about how they feel about the Big Apple. As Surface Magazine Editor-In-Chief (and NYC Globetrotter) Dan Rubinstein put it: “People move here (New York City) from all over the country—and the world—to follow their dreams. It sounds cliché, I know, but it’s really true.”

NYC Globetrotter Dan Rubinstein at the Globetrotter Event

We can’t wait to hear more from our men about town (and the world), as we take the IWC Globetrotter series to new IWC cities to come.

The Evolution of the Volvo Ocean Race

We have been taking you around the world with the Volvo Ocean Race – from challenges to celebrations, high waves to high winds. After coming in first on the Miami to Lisbon route of Leg 7, Team Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing is currently resting before Leg 8 begins later this week. While we wait for them to start the next leg we thought we would share some background on the Race. As with anything rooted in craftsmanship, skill, and technology, there have been significant advancements since its inception in 1973.

Materials used in boat construction have progressed since the Whitbread began

Another example of how the construction process has evolved

Founded and sponsored by Colonel Bill Whitbread, the Race began as the Whitbread Round the World Race. Its first iteration included seventeen teams and four legs. One of the boatshad been built over 40 years earlier in 1936 and another was still being completed as the 27,500 nautical mile long race began. Not all of the crews on the inaugural event were professionals – many were “adventure driven novices” working under the stewardship of very experienced skippers.

Equipment and technology may have changed but the conditions at sea have not

Whitbread and VOR crews alike face perilous yet breathtaking conditions

It is fascinating to imagine how with those circumstances the participating teams would have fared in the Southern Ocean conditions faced by this year’s boats. The enormous waves and 30 knot winds that forced the Azzam to undergo emergency repairs would have had a much different impact on the craft sailing in 1973. In stark contrast this year’s Volvo Ocean Race hosts all professional crews with boats constructed of the most modern and advanced materials. Carbon and titanium are used to ensure the craft is both strong and lightweight – withstanding rough seas while making the most of strong winds.

A state of the art Azzam facing some rough seas

The evolution of materials and technology used on the boats is similar to the evolution in crafting our IWC watches. When the IWC Yacht Club Automatic was first presented in 1967 it included a spring-suspension to help withstand shocks and could be submerged to a depth of 10 bar.

Today’s Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph, incorporating evolution of technology & material

Jump forward 33 years to 2000 when the Portuguese Automatic was introduced with a newly developed movement for increased precision, as well as a 7 day reserve. This movement had been five years in the making – and as with material changes in the VOR boats, represented a huge leap in technology and functionality for the timepiece.

Seen here in front of the pack, Azzam is another example of technical evolution

History and heritage abound whether on the high seas or in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The quest for excellence and precision never wavers, regardless of the craft or pursuit. We send our wishes to the crew from Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing as they prepare to board the state of the art Azzam for Leg 8.

Volvo Ocean Race: The Azzam Prepares for Leg 5

When we last heard from the crew of Azzam, team Abu Dhabi’s boat in the Volvo Ocean Race, they had tucked into the southern China city of Sanya after completing the third leg of the race. They had finished a tough 4600 mile segment, and had withstood the challenges brought by the often wind-less Doldrums, for a 5th place standing. 

We now re-join Captain Walker and crew in Auckland, New Zealand where they are gladly resting after a hard fought Leg 4. The start to this portion of the race was postponed due to a typhoon warning in the South China Sea, which brought waves of up to 8 meters, and which caused race organizers to split the leg into two parts. After the teams were cleared to sail they went into heavy competition to gain as much ground as possible on the 5,220 nautical mile course, passing by the northern tip of the Philippines en route to New Zealand. 

This was the first time since 2001 that the race has stopped in Auckland, and as they were just shy of its shores Captain Walker noted that: “After nearly three weeks of intense racing we finally came within sight of the ‘land of the long white cloud’ – and guess what – it was covered with a long white cloud.” This did not dampen the spirits of Azzam though, and they sailed into port in a time of 20 days, 5 hours, 20 minutes, 35 seconds, maintaining their hold on 5th place.

Their arrival in Auckland could almost be described as “sailing coming home”, because virtually all the teams have at least one New Zealander on board. From Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the team sponsored by IWC Schaffhausen, 38-year-old watch leader and native Kiwi Craig Satterthwaite is particularly happy to be there: “New Zealand’s my home. I’m lucky enough to see lots of the rest of the world but each time I come back only confirms to me that it’s a very special place. It’s unique and I hope it stays that way.”

This positivity will be well used as the team finishes up their on-shore activities here in Auckland and prepares for Leg 5, the longest portion of the entire race. At 6,705 nautical miles this course through the Southern Ocean will have the boats facing “ocean swells the size of buildings, storm force winds, freezing temperatures as well as taking on Chile’s infamous Cape Horn.” The weather systems can produce winds of up to 60 knots — conditions that may set speed records in the race, but will also elevate safety concerns for everyone.

The Azzam, and the other entrants, will depart Auckland on Sunday March 18 (local time) to begin what is the second half of the race, and the next high seas adventure of the Volvo Ocean Race, and we look forward to hearing about their journey when they dock in Itajaí, on Brazil’s eastern coast.. As always our best wishes and thoughts go with them.

IWC Ingenieur and The Northern Lights

In points far north, from Alaska to Canada to Scandinavia, the Northern Lights are an annual phenomenon that draws crowds of onlookers. According to the Edmonton Journal, the Northern Lights have returned, as they do each winter, and are creating quite a spectacle. A beautiful show caused by sun storms and fluctuation in solar energy, the Lights can be anticipated with a variation in local magnetic fields.

It is just such a variation that IWC’s Ingenieur collection of watches was created to withstand, when it was launched in 1955 with the company’s first bidirectional automatic movement. However the technical ingenuity of the Ingenieur has progressed so far as to provide a timepiece built to overcome conditions similar to the Northern Lights.

 While the Ingenieur exudes an unrivaled technical prowess, it sprang from quiet beginnings. When launched in 1955 it was originally created with a soft-iron inner case (which provided the protection from magentic fields). Created for men braving the most dangerous conditions Earth has to offer, the Ingenieur was intended to be similarly humble yet hardy.

In 1976 the timepiece received a significant upgrade, when designer Gerald Genta created what became referred to as the Ingenieur SL (which stood for Safety and Longevity). The enhancements that came with the SL indeed provided both: while the standard for anti-magnetic watches is 4,800 amperes per meter, the SL delivered a watch that kept consistent time within 80,000 amperes per meter. No small feat, and one that stands today. The SL also brought 12 bar water resistance and new design details — both of which also remain.

Today the Ingenieur family continues to expand, with additions such as the Automatic Mission Earth. The name really says it all, but with a black rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet, antireflective glass and a integrated shock absorber, this watch is suited for any perilous adventure and has conquered it.

It is fitting that the lighting bolt is used as a symbol of the Ingenieur family, because like the Northern Lights it is a symbol of something both beautiful and powerful.

Excitement is Building: SIHH 2012

There is an event each year that watch enthusiasts wait for (patiently, or perhaps not so); when they know the most distinguished and exclusive watch brands will release new models, new technologies, and new horological thrills. This much anticipated event is the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie), held in Geneva.

IWC’s SIHH Booth 2011

It is a true spectacle that in its 22nd year hosts the makers of luxury timepieces, and their customers and ardent fans, with a dual focus of highlighting advancements alongside deeply respecting the heritage and tradition of the craft.

Organized by the Fondation de la Haute Horlogerie, SIHH 2012 will showcase 18 exhibitors across 30,000 square meters of space (over 322,000 square feet). The five day show will host upwards of 12,500 guests: these include retailers, journalists, and distinguished invitees. But according to SIHH organizers, it is also “where watchmakers and designers, the representatives of an entire creative team, share their passion for watchmaking one-to-one.” Beyond learning about the incredible new timepieces available in the year to come, SIHH is also a place of learning and instruction, of inspiration and vision.

To digress for a moment on some of those “distinguished invitees” – they include globally known actors such as Jean Reno and Matthew Fox, and international sports stars such as French footballer Zinedine Zidane. The SIHH is simply the “Cannes of watches”.

A glimpse of last year’s red carpet arrivals

As you saw here last week, IWC has announced their theme for 2012, and with it the first watch in this year’s collection, the IWC Top Gun Miramar. It is the year of the High Flyers after all, and SIHH will be the place to kick that into high gear in every possible way!

A look at what is to come….

While we can’t share much more than that until the show starts, we can assure you that we’ll be back with updates, photos, stories, and more… enough to make you wish you were there, but still feel as if you were.

Until then, all of our best from Schaffhausen- see you next week.