CAL­EN­DAR MODEL

IWC’s new An­nual Cal­en­dar might be drop-dead gor­geous, but there’s more to it than meets the eye. We find out what lies be­neath the sur­face.

Esquire Malaysia Watch Guide - - 10 Watches of 2015 - Words by Aaron De Silva

BE­FORE WE WAX LYRI­CAL about IWC’s ridicu­lously hand­some Portugieser An­nual Cal­en­dar, there are a few things we need to clar­ify first. We be­gin with the (new) name: Portugieser. Prior to this year, the col­lec­tion had al­ways been known as the Por­tuguese, but ap­par­ently, the house has switched to the Ger­man trans­la­tion for trade­mark­ing pur­poses.

Next, IWC’s mar­ket­ing cam­paign pro­motes 2015 as the Portugieser’s 75th an­niver­sary, though the line did not ex­ist 75 years ago, hav­ing only come into be­ing in 1993. What did ex­ist 75 years ago was Ref. 325, a 43mm ticker made for two Por­tuguese busi­ness­men who wanted an ac­cu­rate time­keep­ing wrist­watch for their trav­els. Ref. 325 was pre­sented to them in 1939, and IWC be­gan com­mer­cial pro­duc­tion of the model the fol­low­ing year. It was this watch that went on to in­spire the Portugieser col­lec­tion of later years.

As for the ac­tual mer­its of the An­nual Cal­en­dar, one of our favourite pieces this year, we must start by point­ing out that this is IWC’s first an­nual cal­en­dar watch, of­fer­ing an al­ter­na­tive to the house’s more ex­clu­sive per­pet­ual cal­en­dar mod­els. In terms of style, we love the well-bal­anced lay­out of the dial with coun­ters that re­sem­ble dash­board gauges you might find on vin­tage yachts.

At 12 o’clock, the cal­en­dar in­di­ca­tions ap­pear in three sep­a­rate win­dows, which read in the Amer­i­can style of month, date and day. This pays trib­ute to IWC’s Amer­i­can founder FA Jones and might take some get­ting used to for those of us more ac­cus­tomed to the Bri­tish styling, but we as­sure you the rest of the watch makes it well worth the ef­fort. The cal­en­dar it­self only needs to be cor­rected once a year, at the end of Fe­bru­ary. This, along with all other set­tings, is ad­justed by the crown, and there are no push-pieces to fuss around with—an im­pres­sively ef­fi­cient de­tail we might ex­pect of IWC.

How­ever, the sim­plest so­lu­tions of­ten have com­plex back­sto­ries—it took IWC five years to engi­neer this sweet num­ber. Much of that time was spent on the in-house de­vel­op­ment of the new Cal­i­bre 52850 alone, a 4hz (28,800vph) en­gine equipped with a two-bar­rel sys­tem that pro­vides a seven-day power re­serve, as in­di­cated in the sub-dial at three o’clock.

An­other of Cal­i­bre 52850’s ma­jor tech­ni­cal break­throughs is its use of ce­ramic com­po­nents, which makes the au­to­matic wind­ing sys­tem wear-free, and there­fore, more ef­fi­cient. As Thomas Gau­mann, IWC’s head of R&D Move­ment, ex­plains: “In older watches with the Pel­la­ton wind­ing sys­tem, there was some wear-and-tear on parts of the sys­tem. Then we pro­duced some wheels in ce­ramic, tested them and found that they [didn’t ex­hibit signs of wear], so you don’t have to re­place those parts.”

The skilled and pre­cise work­man­ship of the An­nual Cal­en­dar is es­pe­cially show­cased in the open case­back, where you can see that the move­ment fills up vir­tu­ally ev­ery last mil­lime­tre of space. This lends a unique touch, demon­strat­ing that IWC spe­cially built the 44.2mm case around the cal­i­bre, in­stead of sim­ply fit­ting in an ex­ist­ing cal­i­bre. The move­ment’s gen­er­ous pro­por­tions also re­spect the legacy of the orig­i­nal source of in­spi­ra­tion, Ref. 325, which was fit­ted with a pocket watch cal­i­bre.

Un­like the other two an­niver­sary mod­els that IWC launched this year—the Hand-Wound Eight Days Edi­tion “75th An­niver­sary” and the Per­pet­ual Cal­en­dar Dig­i­tal Date-Month Edi­tion “75th An­niver­sary”—we like that the An­nual Cal­en­dar is not is­sued in a lim­ited edi­tion. It is truly a watch for ev­ery man. There are even three strik­ingly dif­fer­ent ver­sions to choose from: an 18-carat red-gold case with a sil­vered dial, and a stain­less steel case with a sil­vered or mid­night blue dial. Our pick? The blue-di­alled model, which seems to speak of the ocean, sea nav­i­ga­tion and the Por­tuguese busi­ness­men them­selves, who de­sired a wrist­watch as ac­cu­rate as a marine chronome­ter. Which is pre­cisely what they got.

Portugieser An­nual Cal­en­dar.

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