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Highlights: ‘Inside IWC History’ Exhibition in Singapore

18 historical watches. 

Organised in conjunction with retailer Sincere Fine Watches, Inside IWC History is a walkthrough the milestones of IWC, explained with a series of important watches from the brand’s museum.

Happening at the Ngee Ann City mall from now till October 27, the exhibition is the largest to date held by the brand in Southeast Asia, with some 18 watches on show. The watches detail the three key families of IWC – Portuguese, Pilot’s Watches and Portofino – tracing the lineage with landmark watches.

From the legendary Mark 11 to the Portugieser ref. 325, the exhibition showcases some of the most iconic vintage IWC watches, but also includes more recent watches, most notably from the Portofino line-up, which is one of the newest creations. The timepieces on show are an instructive guide through which the brand’s current watches can be better understood.

The Portofino line-up, including the significant ref. 5251

The first “special watch for pilots”

Wristwatches designed specifically for aviation have defined most of IWC’s 151-year history, and it all began in 1936 with the “special watch for pilots”. Ernst Jakob Homberger, then the managing director of IWC, had two sons who were aviation enthusiasts and licensed pilots, so he decided to produce a watch purpose-built for aviation.

Even though it was intended for civil aviation, the watch was notably robust and advanced. Sometimes known as the “Mark IX” by enthusiasts, it had a 37.5mm steel case fitted with a rotating, fluted bezel that could measure elapsed time, and large Arabic numerals on the dial for great legibility. Most impressively, it was equipped with an anti-magnetic escapement and could withstand tremendous temperature fluctuations ranging from +40 to -40 degrees.

Beobachtungsuhr

Just four years after the launch of its first pilot’s watch, IWC began supplying the beobachtungsuhr, or B-uhr, to navigators of the Luftwaffe, the second world war German air force. Only five companies produced the B-uhr, IWC and four German watchmakers, A. Lange & Söhne, Wempe, Laco and Stowa. Though the watch was typically made with two dial variations – Baumuster A or Baumuster B (“type A” or “type B”) – IWC only adopted the former.

The “Type A” dial featured Arabic numerals for each hour except 12. Instead, the marker was replaced by a large, upward-pointing equilateral triangle with a dot on either side.

The hands were, by necessity, lengthy due to the massive size of the watch. The case was 55mm wide as it contained the pocket watch cal. 52 T.S.C, originally a movement with subsidiary seconds modified with an indirect seconds train to have a centre seconds. And to aid setting and winding with gloves on, all B-uhr featured oversized, “onion” crowns.

The Mark 11s

In the 1950s, having proven its credentials during the war, and on the heels of the “special watch for pilots” and the B-uhr, IWC began supplying to the British Royal Air Force (RAF) one of the finest time-only military watches ever. The post-war Mark 11 was a milestone in the history of pilot’s watches for the clarity of its design, and more so for the technical sophistication demanded by the RAF.

Inside was the chronometer-grade cal. 89 movement that featured a hacking seconds, and was designed by Albert Pellaton, IWC’s famed watch engineer who also invented the Pellaton automatic winding system.

More crucially, the Mark 11 was the first watch to incorporate a soft-iron cage (or Faraday cage) around the movement to protect it against magnetic fields, a feature deemed crucial due to the increase in high-powered electronics in aircraft. The superior performance of the Mark 11 ensured it remained in service for almost 40 years, up until 1984.

The Mark 11 was originally issued with dinky Bonklip bracelets which were later replaced in 1954 with “NATO” straps. Pictured here is a Mark 11 on Nato with a “12” as well as baton flanked by two dots.

That dial design eventually evolved to have a triangle at 12 o’clock for better clarity, which is found on the second Mark 11 in the exhibition. This also features a broad arrow and a circled “T”, which indicated the use of tritium instead of radium for the luminous paint on the dial and hands.

Der Fliegerchronograph ref. 3705 in ceramic

Introduced in 1994 during the late and great Gunter Blümlein’s leadership of IWC, the Fliegerchronograph ref. 3705 was the brand’s first ceramic pilot’s watch. While black-coated cases were more common during that era, IWC was a pioneer in ceramic cases, beginning with the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph of 1986.

Although ceramic is brittle, it is hard, can withstand high temperatures and resist compression and chemical erosion. As a result, examples of the ref. 3705 still look pretty much the same today, save for the aged tritium markers.

The ref. 3705 was produced for only four years, only 999 were made (with one additional example believed to have been designated as a prototype), as the standard model with a steel case proved more popular. Both the ceramic and steel models were powered by a modified Valjoux 7750.

Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase ref. 5251

The watch that inspired the Portofino collection was first introduced in 1984 – though the Portofino name was not adopted until 1988 – with the ref. 5251. A huge watch, even by today’s standards – the dinner plate-like case is 46mm – the ref. 5251 was essentially a pocket watch turned into a wristwatch. In fact, IWC produced a near-identical ref. 5250 pocket watch at the time. Both were equipped with the Lépine pocket watch cal. 9521.

Due to the nature of the movement – the winding stem and small-seconds are arranged in a line for a Lepine pocket watch – the small second is at nine o’clock, creating a pleasing symmetry with the moon phase display at three. The ref. 5251 was produced with a white enamel dial paired with a yellow gold case in a run of only 350 examples or so.

Romana Perpetual Calendar ref. 2050

Introduced in 1994, the Romana Perpetual Calendar ref. 2050 is still among the slimmest perpetual calendar wristwatches ever made at 3.15mm. Originally known only as the Romana and not yet a Portofino, the watch was powered by the hand-wound, ultra-thin Jaeger-LeCoultre 849 that was combined with the perpetual calendar module invented by Kurt Klaus in 1985 for the Da Vinci.

The case measured just 36mm in diameter, and due to its size, the perpetual calendar mechanism was modified slightly. One of the changes made was the year display: it had a double-digit year indicator instead of a full, four digit year as on the Da Vinci.

Perhaps due to its size, which went against the grain of the steadily increasing watch sizes of the 1990s, or perhaps because its sister company Jaeger-LeCoultre had carved out a strong niche for itself with the Master Perpetual Calendar, the Romana was in production for only three years, until 1997.

Portuguese ref. 325

Following a special request in 1939 by two Portuguese watch agents, IWC began production of a large wristwatch that housed one of the brand’s most accurate and reliable pocket watch movements, the cal. 74, which was then upgraded to become the cal. 98 and eventually the cal. 982.

As opposed to the Lépine cal. 73, the hunter cal. 74 had a savonnette construction, with its crown at a right angle to the fourth wheel that drives the seconds, and thus ideal for a wristwatch.

From left to right: Portuguese ref. 325 with the cal. 98 from 1954; Portuguese Jubilee from 2003; an early ref. 325 with the cal. 74 from 1942

Because of the size of the movement, the ref. 325 was characterised by a 41.5mm large case. Over its 40-year production run, only 690 Portuguese ref. 325 were made.

It was produced with an array of dials, including a sector, a plain dial, and one with a simple railway-track-style chapter ring. Pictured here is a ref. 325 from 1954, which bears a distinctive Portuguese import hallmark on the top left lug.

In 1993, the Portuguese was reintroduced in a limited-edition of 1750 pieces to mark the brand’s 125th anniversary. It was made in rose gold (pictured here), stainless steel as well as platinum, and had a transparent case back that showcased the cal. 9828, which was an evolution of the cal. 982.

Portuguese Perpetual Calendar ref. 5021

As with any IWC perpetual calendar, the movement of the Portuguese ref. 5021 is central to the significance of the watch. Introduced in 2003, the ref. 5021 was equipped with the in-house 51612 movement (derived from the cal. 5000 family) that fills its entire 44mm case.

It features a Pellaton winding system, a 7-day power reserve but more crucially, it boasts Kurt Klaus’ landmark perpetual calendar module. The perpetual calendar mechanism is notably comprehensive, featuring the day, day of the week, date, month, four-digit year, and double moon phase displays that move and adjust in perfect sync. Even better, all of the adjustments are performed via the crown.

All functions of the mechanism were the same as the Da Vinci with one exception; it had a double moon phase display that is accurate to a day in 577 years versus the standard 122.5 years of the Da Vinci. This is because the larger diameter provided room for more teeth on the moon phase gear.

Portugieser Automatic 2000 ref. IW5000

The IWC limited-edition Portugieser Automatic 2000 was launched in the year 2000 in platinum, red gold and stainless steel. This example is one in stainless steel with a “reverse panda” dial. Importantly, the Portugieser 5000 was the first IWC wristwatch with a movement, the cal. 5000, that was fully conceived in-house, marking a new chapter for the brand.

The cal. 5000, with a small seconds at nine o’clock and a power reserve indicator at three, was a technically interesting, large-diameter movement that not only had a seven-day power reserve but it also revived the Pellaton winding system. This time, the system had two winding pawls instead of one, each winding the large mainspring depending on the direction of the rotor’s motion.

Exhibition details

Inside IWC History takes place at the Ngee Ann City atrium from now till October 27. It’s open daily from 10:00am to 9:30pm, and admission is free.

Ngee Ann City
391 Orchard Rd
Singapore 238873


 

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Panerai Introduces the Luminor Luna Rossa Collection

Dedicated to the America’s Cup yacht.

Back in January, Panerai unveiled the Luna Rossa Challenger Submersible Carbotech, which kicked off the watchmaker’s official sponsorship of Luna Rossa, the challenger of the 36th America’s Cup that takes place in 2021. And now the brand has introduced three Luminor watches – the Luna Rossa Regatta (PAM01038), the Luna Rossa Chrono Flyback (PAM01037), and the Luna Rossa GMT (PAM01036) – dedicated to the sailing syndicate, which has fellow Italian brands Prada and Pirelli as its main sponsors.

Only just unveiled at the Salón Internacional Alta Relojería (SIAR) watch fair in Mexico City, the three watches are characterised by high tech materials that also used in Luna Rossa. The watches share the same monochromatic palette, with a distinctive “sandwich dial” made up of a lower dial plate with luminous paint for the numerals that’s capped with an upper dial plate covered in sailcloth from Luna Rossa. Though each use different case materials, they all share the same titanium case back engraved with the Luna Rossa and the team logo.


Luminor Luna Rossa Regatta (PAM01038)

A dedicated yachting chronograph, the Luminor Luna Rossa Regatta is the flagship model of the range.

It has a 47mm case in Carbotech, a proprietary carbon fibre-reinforced polymer, making it massive but lightweight. First introduced in 2015, the material is produced by layering sheets of carbon with a polymer resin in between to create a light and strong composite with a woodgrain appearance.

The countdown function is measured by two central hands controlled by a pusher at four o’clock. The minute goes backwards by one minute at each click of the pusher until the desired position is reached. And once the chronograph function is activated with the pusher at 10 o’clock, the hands will indicate the minutes and seconds remaining until the start of the regatta. The five-minute countdown period is marked in red on the dial.

Hidden behind a titanium case back is the automatic cal. P.9100/R, which is a flyback chronograph movement with a column wheel and vertical clutch. This movement is slightly thicker than the regular flyback chronograph cal. P.9100 due to the countdown mechanism and a higher column wheel. Cased up, the watch measures 19.9mm high versus the regular 18.4mm thick Chrono Flyback.

Luminor Luna Rossa Chrono Flyback (PAM01037)

Measuring 44mm in diameter, the Chrono Flyback features a sandblasted ceramic case and bezel. The dial is almost identical to the Regatta, save for the tachymeter scale. It is operated like a regular flyback chronograph; the pusher at four o’clock resets the chronograph hand back to zero.

It is powered by the automatic cal. P.9100, which is a flyback chronograph movement without the aforementioned countdown function. As is standard for all Panerai movements, it is equipped with double barrels for a three-day power reserve.

Luminor Luna Rossa GMT (PAM01036)

The Luna Rossa GMT has a titanium case coated in diamond-like carbon (DLC). It measures 44mm wide and 15.65mm in height.

The dial, save for the red small seconds and GMT hands, is monochromatic; it even has a matching, black and grey date disc at three o’clock.

Powering the watch is the automatic P.9010/GMT, which is essentially the brand’s three-day automatic movement equipped with a GMT function. It features a hacking seconds function and an independently adjustable hour hand, meaning the time zone can be adjusted without affecting the minute hand.


Key facts and price

Luminor Luna Rossa Regatta PAM01038
Luminor Luna Rossa Chrono Flyback PAM01037
Luminor Luna Rossa GMT PAM01036

Diameter: 47mm (PAM01038); 44mm (PAM01037 & PAM01036)
Material: Carbotech (PAM01038); ceramic (PAM01037); black DLC-coated titanium (PAM01036)
Water resistance: 100m (PAM01038 & PAM01037); 300m (PAM01036)

Movement: P.9100/R (PAM01038); P.9100 (PAM01037); P.9010/GMT (PAM01036)
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, flyback chronograph, regatta countdown, zero reset seconds (PAM01038)

Hours, minutes, small seconds, flyback chronograph, zero reset seconds (PAM01037)

Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, GMT (PAM01036)

Frequency: 28,800 (4Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 3 days

Strap: “Ponte Vecchio” calf leather, black with white stitching

Availability: Available in boutiques from November 9, 2019
Price: PAM01038 – €23,500, or S$30,900; PAM01037 – €17,500, or S$25,700; PAM01036 – €10,900, or S$16,050


 

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Hands-On: anOrdain Model 2 with Hammered, Enamel Dial

An affordable, in-house vitreous enamel dial.

Founded in Scotland five years ago by industrial designer Lewis Heath, Anordain is one of the most unusual “microbrands” as it managed to master – straight out of the gate – one of watchmaking’s most prized crafts: vitreous enamel, often known as grand feu enamel in Swiss watchmaking. As a result, the brand manages to offer some of the most affordable watches with fired enamel dials, mostly priced under US$1500.

Following the success of the inaugural Model 1 last year, the brand has just unveiled the Model 2, a compact, hand-wound, two-hander with a modern, minimalist design. Most notably, two versions of the watch feature a fired, translucent enamel done over a hammered surface.

AnOrdain Model 2-7

Like all Anordain’s standard enamel dials, the new hammered, enamel dial is done in-house. Located in Glasgow’s East End, Anordain’s workshop includes its own three-person team of enamellers that can produce eight to nine dials a week, usually in bright, unusual colours such as pink or a translucent bottle green.

Design nuances

Inspired by classic field watches – the no-nonsense wristwatches made for armies in the first half of the 20th century – the Model 2 was designed entirely in-house, from the case to the typography and hands.

And just like vintage field watches that are small by modern standards, the Model 2 measures a discreet 36mm in diameter and 11mm in height. Its balanced proportions are indeed reminiscent of field watches, albeit in a more refined and formal manner.

On the wrist, the dimensions create an unusual effect of feeling small yet looking big due to the thickness of the lugs and bezel. 

AnOrdain Model 2_3

AnOrdain Model 2-9

Depth rated to 50m, the steel case has a simple but beautiful profile with curved lugs and crown guards that slope to meet the crown. It features a wide, rounded bezel and is topped by a sapphire crystal with six layers of anti-reflective coating.

The case is available in two different case finishes, either entirely polished or satin finished. Either way, the single, uniform finish is appropriate for the clean, graphic style of the watch as it accentuates the soft contours of the case. 

AnOrdain Model 2-8

As with a majority of watch cases, the case is first stamped to create a rough shape and then further refined using CNC.

The Model 2 with a brushed case

 As with the Model 1, the fonts found on the Model 2 were designed by an in-house typographer who took inspiration from 1950s industrial equipment.

AnOrdain Model 2-5

The clean, geometric typeface offers a pleasing contrast to the gentle curves of the case and are paired with suitably retro syringe hands specially designed to include Super-Luminova tips.

AnOrdain Model 2-4

Grand feu 

The Model 2 is offered with grand feu enamel dials in six solid colours, as well as two dials, done in hammered, vividly coloured enamel – an entirely new technique for Anordain.

For the conventional enamel dials, a copper base is first painted with ground enamel powder and then fired in an oven at a temperature of over 800℃ to melt the powder and set it.

AnOrdain Model 2-6

Then, instead of using a lapidary wheel to achieve a uniform surface, the enamel dials are sanded by hand with diamond paper to eliminate any excess enamel and give the surface a brilliant shine.

The process of adding enamel powder, firing and sanding are repeated up to eight times to achieve the desired depth of colour. The markings on the dial are then pad printed over the final layer of translucent, protective enamel.

And the special enamel

The textured dials, on the other hand, feature a subtle graduated (or fumè) finish that darken towards the edges.

This was accomplished with the use of a very clever and exacting technique. To start off, a silver base plate was used instead of copper, as heat causes copper to darken from oxidisation, which would then change the colour of the resulting dial since the enamel is translucent.

Anordain Model 2-2

AnOrdain Model 2 Hammered dial

The graduated effect was achieved by first pressing the silver dial base to give it a subtle domed shape, measuring just 0.38mm high, then hammering it by hand to create the textured surface.

The entire dial is then coated with a layer of translucent enamel, fired and sanded to ensure a flat surface. And then the numerals are printed on the topmost layer of enamel.

Because of the domed dial base, the enamel is thicker at the edges, and therefore darker, which is why the dial colour darkens towards its edge.

AnOrdain Model 2-3 

The result is extremely unique and striking, with the dials being grained yet glossy, metallic yet rich. And the numerals appear to be floating above the dial, an effect enhanced by the airy, hollow typeface.

While the Model 1 had a transparent case back and an automatic movement, the Model 2, like early field watches, is equipped with a hand-wound movement that is hidden behind a solid case back.

AnOrdain Model 2_

It utilises the Sellita SW 210-1, a clone of the ETA 2801-2 that’s low-cost and robust hand-wound movement with a 42-hour power reserve. Ironically the ETA 2801 is also used in some modern day remakes of field watches, including those by Hamilton.

Concluding thoughts

Ultimately, the Anordain Model 2 offers incredible value for money; ticking a lot of boxes for the price segment it fulfills.

While the closest competitors include the Seiko Presage in its many iterations, the Model 2’s value proposition lies not only in its beautiful enamel dial, but also the strength and uniqueness of its design, from the case down to the hands and typography.

The overall effect of combining a somewhat sporty and modern design with a grand feu enamel dial is especially appealing. And the hammered enamelled dials are perhaps some of the most beautiful and unusual on the market, especially with the smoked finish, which could perhaps be better showcased on a bigger watch.


Key facts

Diameter: 36mm
Height: 11mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 50m

Movement: Sellita SW-210-1
Functions:  Hours and minutes
Frequency: 28,800bph, or 4Hz
Winding: Hand-wind
Power reserve: 42 hours

Strap: Leather or “Milanese” mesh bracelet

Availability: Direct from anOrdain
Price: £1500 for the hammered, enamel dial), and £950 for the standard dial (Prices include 20% UK VAT)


 

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Corum Introduces the Golden Bridge Round 43 Art Deco

The Golden Bridge suspended.

Invented by pioneering independent watchmaker Vincent Calabrese in 1980 – whose specialty remains intriguing shaped movements – the Golden Bridge has become a Corum signature – a tiny, baguette-shaped movement suspended in watch cases of varying shapes and sizes. Despite being almost 40 years old, the Golden Bridge remains an impressive feat of movement construction, and one that is not as highly regarded as it should be.

The latest iteration of the watch is the Golden Bridge Round 43 Art Deco, which installs the Golden Bridge movement in a conventional, round case, but frames it on both sides with sets of brass wires, evoking the cables of suspension bridges. Two versions are available: one with gilded wires and a yellow gold movement, the other with rhodium-plated wires and a matching movement.

corum Golden Bridge Round 43 1

Mechanically the CO 113 movement is identical to that found in earlier versions. Taking its name literally, the movement has its bridges and main plate in solid 18k gold. It was born out of Mr Calabrese’s original design – which was delicate and finicky – having been reengineered about a decade ago by Laurent Besse, an independent watchmaker who formerly worked for Corum after his own workshop went bust.

The case is a large 43mm and made of titanium coated in diamond-like carbon (DLC), giving it a glossy black finish. Its size means it loses the delicate elegance of the originals, which were all contained in narrow, rectangular cases, but conversely the round case makes it more masculine and easier to wear.

corum Golden Bridge Round 43 3


Key facts and price

Golden Bridge Round 43
Gold finish – ref. B113/03951
Rhodium finish – ref. B113/03952

Case diameter: 43mm
Height: 8.8mm
Material: Titanium with black DLC coating
Water resistance: 30m

Movement: CO 113
Functions: Hours and minutes
Frequency: 28,800bph (4Hz)
Winding: Manual-wind
Power reserve: 40 hours

Strap: Rubber with folding clasp

Availability: Limited edition of 188 pieces in each finish
Price: US$23,800

For more, visit Corum-watches.com.


 

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