Twenty years after its inception, the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker have decided to launch two limited edition pieces for their Portugieser Minute Repeater. These limited edition pieces are cased in either platinum, or red gold.
On the surface, the IWC Portugieser Minute Repeater may be a seemingly simple watch. It features an extremely clean dial, with an off-center seconds subdial. But do not let that facade deceit you.
What lies beneath that classic looking dial is a complication that took IWC nearly 500,00 man-hours to recreate in the late 1980s- the Minute Repeater. Due to the complexity of the complication, the team behind the Minute Repeater had faced many challenges, especially with the audibility of the gong. The team toyed with many ideas, and eventually it was solved by the head of case development who bought two musical boxes and studied it. He then realized that sufficient space is required for the gongs to transmit their vibration, and the case acts as a medium instead to amplify and transmit the vibrations outside. Well, the problem is solved!
The Minute Repeater features a patented movement which comprises of 250 parts coexisting and working together. The design’s central elements are two steel gongs, which are struck by the two hammers when the slider is pushed. The minute repeater chimes out each full hour that has elapsed since noon or midnight with a single strike on the deeper-pitched gong, every quarter since the last full hour with a double strike – one on each gong – and every minute that has passed since the last quarter with one strike on the higher-pitched gong.
Interestingly, the pitch of the gong is based on the opening of Wagner’s Tannhäuser. This decision is made after the design engineers attended two concerts, one featuring Wagner and the other featuring Beethoven. The former emerged victorious, since the engineers think that it would be more befitting for the watch to adapt the rising fourths from Tannhäuser.
The movement is based on a movement which dates by to the 1930s- a Caliber 98950 Hunter Pocket Watch movement. The one featured on the Portugieser Minute Repeater has been modernized, refurbished, and improved. It includes Glucydur® beryllium alloy balance with high-precision adjustment cam on the balance arms, and the Breguet spring. The result is having the beauty and aesthetics of a classic movement, with modernized improvements and reliability.
The hand-wound movement features a power reserve of 46 hours, and it is operating at a frequency of 18,000 beats per hour. The 44mm timepiece, as mentioned, comes in both platinum and red gold for this limited edition. There are only 1000 pieces available: 500 for each variant of precious metal.
Specifications from Press Release
Minute repeater for hours, quarters and minutes
Small hacking seconds
Glucydur®* beryllium alloy balance with high-precision adjustment cam on the balance arms
See-through sapphire-glass back
Limited edition of 500 watches each in platinum and 18-carat red gold
IWC-manufactured calibre: 98950
Frequency: 18,000 A/h / 2.5 Hz
Power reserve: 46 h
Materials: Ref. IW544906: case in platinum, silver-plated dial, black alligator
leather strap, folding clasp in platinum
Ref. IW544907: case in 18-carat red gold, silver-plated dial, brown
alligator leather strap, folding clasp in 18-carat red gold
Glass: Sapphire, arched edge, antireflective coating on both sides
Water-resistant: 3 bar
Diameter: 44 mm
Case height 14 mm