Celebrating its 150th Anniversary, IWC released 27 new timepieces during the SIHH 2018 —Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie— last week. With new watches within the Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot's and Da Vinci collections, IWC marks this occasion, also launching its first-ever wristwatch to feature the original digital hours and minute display as it appeared on the Pallweber pocket watches back in 1884. One aesthetic element all these timepieces is their lacquered dials in white or blue. While the watches with a white dial have blued hands, those with a blue dial have rhodium-plated hands. All the watches in the collection bear the Anniversary medallion “150 Years” —either as a medallion or as an engraving.
The iconic Pallweber pocket watches launched in the late 19th century are one of the most significant milestones in the history of IWC Schaffhausen as instead of hands, they had a digital display that showed the hours and minutes in large numerals. Between 1884 and 1890, IWC Schaffhausen manufactured around 20,000 Pallweber pocket watches with digital displays for the hours and minutes.
The new IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” is IWC’s first-ever wristwatch to feature jumping numerals in a digital display and is a limited edition available in 18K red gold with white dial ref. IW505002 —250 pieces—, platinum with white dial ref. IW505001 —25 pieces— or stainless steel with blue dial ref. IW505003 —500 pieces. Additionally, the new Pallweber is also available as a pocket watch under ref. IW505101 in a limited edition of 50 pieces in 18K red gold. The case size is 45 mm and the finish is fully polished throughout the bezel, lugs and case.
The dials are painstakingly coated with up to twelve layers of high-quality lacquer and were inspired by the enamel dials featured in the original Pallweber watches. And just as back then, the windows for the digital display are inscribed with the words "Hours" and "Minutes". While the 18K red gold model and the stainless steel one feature a white dial, the platinum version is equipped with a gorgeous blue dial.
Powered by the new IWC in-house calibre 94200, which comprises 290 individual parts and took five years to develop, this movement features a separate wheel train with a barrel of its own to advance the display discs. The first barrel supplies the movement with power while the second barrel takes care of the display discs. A release mechanism connects the two barrels. Every 60 seconds, it releases the wheel train and then locks it again immediately. Compared with the original Pallweber movements, it is a distinct improvement.
The release mechanism is mounted on the third wheel, which rotates around its axis once every four minutes and is part of the watch's regular wheel train. A cam fixed to the pinion raises the release lever from one side. After every completed minute, the lever jumps up and releases the unlocking wheel connected to the wheel train of the display discs. It jumps forward and advances the one-minute disc by a single position. The procedure is repeated nine times. After the tenth switching sequence, a runner on the one-minute disc engages with the Geneva drive on the ten-minute disc and advances it. A pin located on the underside rotates with the intermediate Geneva wheel. When the ten-minute disc is on "5" and the one-minute disc on "9", the intermediate Geneva wheel advances the hour ring to the next position.
Although the Pallweber mechanism is based on an invention made 130 years ago, it has lost none of its fascination. The arrival of a new hour on the dial is a spectacular sight, 24 times a day. While a "59" in the minute window instantaneously turns into a "00", the hour likewise advances by one position. The jumps are accompanied by audible clicking sounds from within the watch.
The Strap & Buckle
IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” is equipped with a Santoni alligator strap with folding clasp in the respective metal matching the case. While the platinum and stainless steel models are equipped with black straps, the 18K red gold model features a dark brown strap.
On The Wrist & Pricing
On the wrist, the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” ref. IW5050 wears slightly smaller than its actual size and more like a 42 mm watch. Unique looking, historically inspired and captivating with its digital mechanical display for the hours and minutes. A great release this year by IWC.
Sticker Price $23,100 USD for Stainless Steel, $36,600 USD for 18K Red Gold, $57,800 for Platinum and $66,900 USD for the pocket watch. For more info on IWC click here.