The heritage of IWC is deeply rooted in American pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship. Florentine Ariosto Jones, a watchmaker from Boston, founds the International Watch Company in 1868. He draws on the help of eminently qualified Swiss watchmakers, modern technology, and hydropower sourced from the nearby River Rhine to manufacture pocket watch movements of the highest possible quality. The Rauschenbachs, an industrialist family from Schaffhausen, take over the company following Jones’ return to the United States. During its early years, IWC produces pocket watches with a digital “Pallweber” display, as well as wristwatches for women and men. In 2000 the brand was sold to the Richemont Group, who then reinvigorated the entire collection. Since then IWC is predominately known for its pilot, Ingenieur, Portuguese, Aquatimer and Portofino collection.
This 43.10mm Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound Skeleton is housed in an 18-carat red gold case. This reference IW546201 is limited to just 25 examples. Originally thought to have been introduced in 2015, all pieces were spoken for upon the launch of this exquisite IWC. This particular example forms part of the ever-elegant Portuguese collection. The Portuguese collection stems from a rather creative method of using a pocket watch movement for a wristwatch, as such ref. 325 was introduced in 1939. The 43mm case dimensions were far ahead of their time. Interestingly, this manually wound Tourbillon, mimics the original ref. 325 in many ways. Firstly, the use of the ‘oversized’ case is a nod to the past. Secondly, the extremely thin bezel is reminiscent of the original ref. 325, this essentially allows for a highly legible dial. Thirdly, the movement structure mimics that of the ref. 325. Lastly, the polished feuille hands are also found on the original reference.
The hand-wound Caliber IWC 98920, measures 37.80mm and suits the case rather well. The 54-hour power reserve beats at 28’800 vph, the tourbillon takes 60 seconds to complete a full rotation.
The silver-plated dial found at the 6 o’clock marker is a 60-second counter, the discrete minute and hour markers are found on the outer track of the watch. The black lacquer is applied directly onto the baseplate of the dial, the use of polished hour markers allows the dial to be highly legible. Additionally, the black polish technique used on certain bridges of the movement blends into the watch rather well due to the frosted finish on other components of the movement.