In 1884, IWC manufactured the first so-called Pallweber pocket watches. These innovative timepieces showed the hours and minutes in a digital format with large numerals on rotating discs. In its anniversary year, IWC honours this pioneering achievement with the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years”.
The case and dial
The watch comes in three variants, one in stainless steel and blue dial, one in 18 K red gold and white dial, and the third in platinum and white dial with contrasting black discs. The model that we feature today is in stainless steel with a blue dial with a lacquered finish. It is a limited edition of 500 pieces.
At first glance, the most striking thing about the watch is the dial. The blue dial has a deep glossy finish that is very polished – almost mirror-like. Given the size of the dial in a relatively wide case, 45 mm, the dial is an immediate pop of blue that demands attention. While some may have a preference for a more subtle finish, the reflective blue certainly does appeal to many. As a reference to the design of the historical Pallweber watches and a tribute to F.A. Jones – the American watchmaker who founded IWC – the windows of the digital display are labelled as “Hours” and “Minutes”.
The case measures 45 mm in diameter and 12 mm in height. It is fully polished, and bears the distinctive ‘roundness’ of a pocket watch. A simple curved bezel is used and attaches with a convex sapphire crystal glass. For clarity and sharpness, the crystal is treated with double sided anti-reflective coating. While the case sounds on the large side, as with the other Portofino collection, due to the large caliber possibly, it is mitigated by the use of wire lugs instead of the more common tapered lugs. Apart from the aesthetic effects of the wire lugs; which are more classic and alludes to watch cases at the dawn of the century, the lugs pose a practical choice. Visually and physically, the lug to lug width is reduced and makes for a better fit around the wrist. Furthermore, the thinness of the lugs reduces the clutter of the case and focuses the viewers’ attention on the dial.
At the back of the watch, a transparent caseback is used for easy viewing of the movement.
The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” uses the in-house manufactured 94200 calibre. The manual winding movement runs at 28800 vph and has 60 hours power reserve.
The hand-wound movement features two barrels, which provide the energy for a number of different complications, including the constant-force tourbillon, the astronomical module in the Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia and the digital Pallweber display. While toothed cogs moved the discs in the historical pocket watches, the impulse that advances the single-minute disc is now supplied by a separate wheel train with a barrel of its own. The fact that the flow of power in the main wheel train is uninfluenced guarantees a precise rate and improved accuracy of the movement.
A release mechanism that establishes a connection to the watch’s main wheel train unlocks the train every 60 seconds and then immediately locks it again. After 10 minutes, the single-minute disc moves the 10-minute disc forward by one position. Every 60th minute, the hour ring jumps to the next numeral. As in the historical Pallweber watches, the discs are connected through a Maltese cross drive and can easily be moved forward or backward using the crown.
The movement finishing is of reasonable quality, although it is apparent that the focus is on mastering the jumping hours mechanism. The movement bridges are decorated with Côtes-de-Genève with polished angles. Pleasant to look at decorations, although pale in comparison to hand-finished movements from IWC’s sister brands; Lange and Vacheron Constantin. Perhaps for good reason.
The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” scores extremely well in the looks department. Of course, while the tone of the blue lacquered finish dial remains subjective, the final product is still one of IWC’s best release in a few years. Priced at USD$23,000 excluding taxes, the watch is in competitive territory, but stands out with a unique selling proposition of the Pallweber heritage, a technically compelling digital jumping movement and a ‘limited edition’; if the latter still means anything to watch collectors.
Specifications and price
US$23,100 before taxes
Stainless steel case
Diameter 45.0 mm
Height 12.0 mm
See-through sapphire glass back
Water resistance 3 bar
Frequency 28800.0 vph (4.0 hz)
60 hours Power Reserve
Sapphire glass, convex, antireflective coating on both sides
Small hacking seconds
Black alligator leather strap by Santoni