With its passion for innovation and technical inventiveness, International Watch Company (IWC) has established an international reputation. Since 1868, IWC has been creating masterpieces of haute horlogerie that combine precision engineering with exclusive design. Also, a high-end Swiss manufacturer from Schaffhausen is notable for being the only major Swiss watch factory located in eastern Switzerland.
From the early 1980’s until 2006, IWC Schaffhausen used mechanical movements based on Swatch-owned ETA and its subsidiary Valjoux movements. Therefore, the Caliber 30110 is actually a modified ETA 2892A2, while the Caliber 79230/79320/79350 is a modified ETA/Valjoux 7750.
Movements in the range of IWC’s watches which are not based on ETA movements include Calibers, such as the Caliber 5000 and the Caliber 8000.
The 50000 Caliber Family
In 2000, after five years of development, IWC introduced a new in-house made Caliber 50000 that combines the escapement of IWC’s iconic Caliber 89 with the well-known winding system of the Caliber 8541 in a completely new movement. This caliber also marked the revival of an IWC hallmark – the Pellaton pawl-winding system.
The Caliber 50000 combines the best elements of IWC’s history from special elements of the pocket watch tradition to the manual wind wristwatch tradition and the automatic winding tradition.
Today, the 50000 caliber family comprises a wide range of different movements that have one thing above all in common – their unmistakably large dimensions. The movement itself is 38.2 mm wide and 7.2 mm high and it is one of the largest automatic movements in the world.
Contrary to most of the new watch mechanisms that oscillate at the rapid frequency, the Caliber 50000 has the leisurely going rate of a pocket watch – only 18,000 beats per hour. Considering that fact, it has the virtue of less wear at the trade-off of less resolution, but not less accuracy. Also, it has an escapement derived from IWC’s historic Caliber 89 manual movement, with a screwed balance and a Breguet overcoil.
This impeccable mechanism can store enough power to keep the watch ticking for as long as 204 hours (8.5 days), but what is fascinating is that the movement automatically stops after 168 hours (7 days) to eliminate the danger of diminishing torque in the mainspring. This also insures greater precision the whole time the watch is running.
The movement is jeweled to the total hilt of 44. It consists of 286 parts in 35 sub-assemblies, with 12 bridges and 53 differently shaped wheels.
The automatic winding system of the Caliber 50000 is basically IWC’s famed patented system designed in the early 1950′s by Albert Pellaton and featured in the Caliber 8541. The rotor, the cam, the ruby rollers and the pawl pattern are identical to the Pellaton design.
Unlike most other watch designs, the movements of the rotor are not transmitted to a wheel train via a gear system. Instead, it moves a heart-shaped cam to activate a rocker. Two ruby rollers on the rocker ride on the cam, and the other end of the cam uses two pawls to transmit the kinetic energy to a ratchet wheel with helical teeth, and from there to the winding wheels and the barrel.
The rotor winds in both directions and there is a sprung rotor mount to guard the rotor bearing from damage due to the mass of the rotor. Contrary to the other parts of the winding system, this one is shock resistant.
When we talk about the escapement, there is a twin-arm balance with 16 screw weights and two adjusting cams. In fact, the balance, the pallets and the escape wheel of the Caliber 50000 are identical to the Caliber 89.
The 80000 Caliber Family
The Pellaton winding system is the essential part not only of the 50000 Caliber Family, but also of the 80000 Caliber Family. This caliber perfectly combines ruggedness with precision. It is a very small mechanism with the diameter of only 30 mm and the thickness of 7.3 mm. This movement is built on 28 jewels and provides more than sufficient 44 hours of power reserve when fully charged. It beats at the rapid frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour.
This family comprises Caliber 80110 and Caliber 80111. The first one is unveiled in 2005. It is one of the most rugged movements ever manufactured by IWC. It offers maximum protection against abrasion and other defects. This caliber represents a major achievement for the IWC in many aspects. Historically, it has been the first newly developed manufacture movement with less than 37 mm in diameter, since four decades ago.
This mechanism is perfect for watches intended for all kinds of extreme situations. The Caliber 80110 is the heart of the Ingenieur Automatic Mission Earth Timepiece where it is equipped with a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields, so the magnetism of up to 80,000 amperes per meter leaves it unmoved.
Equally tough and attractive, the IWC-manufactured 80111 caliber is featured in References 3231, 3233 and 5461 of the IWC Vintage Collection, where it can be viewed through the transparent sapphire-glass back.
The 89000 Caliber Family
While the current IWC in-house manufactured movements are either too thick, too large, or both – the 89000 Caliber Family nicely solved this issue. This movement has the diameter of 30 mm and it is 7.5 mm thick. Just like the movements from the 8000 Caliber Family, it oscillates at the rapid frequency of 28,800 beats per hour. The Caliber 89360 mechanical movement boasts a significantly improved self-winding system and sets watchmaking standards. As it is reported by manufacturer, it took full 4 years for IWC development team to create and design this mechanism. This Caliber is built on 40 jewels and thanks to its highly efficient double-pawl winding system, it builds up a power reserve of 68 hours in no time.
The IWC-manufactured Caliber 89361 marks the beginning of a new era in time measurement because it displays recorded hours and minutes in an analogue display in a single sub-dial. This means that the stop time can be read off as easily as the time of a day. Apart from this, the winding system has four instead of two pawls to transmit the energy developed by the rotor, increasing the mechanism’s efficiency by conspicuous 30 percent.
After further development, the movement was known as the Caliber 89800 and it was used for the large digital date and month displays in the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month watch unveiled in 2009. Besides the date, this perpetual calendar movement shows, for the first time in an IWC watch, the month in large numerals. The energy required to advance the month display discs is built up constantly through the month by a quick-action switch. A spring-loaded lever on the quick-action switch is lifted a tiny bit further each day by a cam. Finally, at the end of the month, the tension in the spring reaches its maximum and the energy is released. This insures advancing of the display discs.
Further, this highly sophisticated perpetual calendar requires only few adjustments until the year 2499. This means that it has to be adjusted only once every 100 years, with the exception of years divisible by 400.
This year, IWC introduced the newest movement from the 89000 Caliber Family. In the year of Pilot’s watches, IWC equipped several watches from this collection (such as, Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUNMiramar, Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN and Spitfire Chronograph Watch) with a new Caliber 89365. The new mechanical chronograph movement features a power reserve from 44 to 68 hours when fully wound and it has a fly-back function, a mechanism that enables an ongoing time measurement to be “deleted” without an intermediate stop whilst a new one is started. A soft-iron inner case protects the precision movement against magnetism.
The 98000 Caliber Family
The Caliber 98, which was produced from the mid-1930s for the hunter pocket watch, has been regularly improved by IWC for more than 80 years. Considering the fact that it is perfectly suited for large hand-wound timepieces, it is no coincidence that this caliber is closely associated with the story of the Portuguese wristwatches.
One of the highlights in the caliber’s history was the anniversary Portuguese watch which was unveiled in 1993. This wristwatch was equipped with the Caliber 9828 which among other things featured a balance with shock-resistance. Combining an elongated index, on one hand, with a modern Glucydur beryllium alloy balance on the other hand, the Caliber 98290 used in the Portuguese F. A. Jones combines tradition and technological progress.
This Caliber Family comprises a wide spectrum of different movements and they all have the same diameter of 37.8 mm while the highness varies from 4.7 mm to 6.1 mm.
The Caliber 98295 features a large screw balance, Breguet spring and nickel-plated nickel-silver three-quarter bridge, as well as bridges decorated with circular graining andGenevastripes. This Caliber is used in the Portuguese Hand-Wound, as well as in the Vintage Portuguese Hand-Wound watch.
The Vintage Pilot’s Watch Hand-Wound Watch is powered by the Caliber 98300 mechanical movement which represents the state of the art. Through the transparent sapphire-glass case back, you can see two technical features reminiscent of the first Jones calibers of 1868: the decorated nickel-silver three-quarter bridge and the Jones arrow. The elongated index served IWC’s founder as a means of adjusting the balance’s oscillating frequency and has remained a hallmark of Jones watches to this day.
The heart of the Vintage Portofino Hand-Wound timepiece is the Caliber 98800 which boasts the moon phase functionality. This caliber features a nickel-plated nickel-silver three-quarter bridge, screw balance, Breguet spring and elongated index. Further, the accuracy of the moon phase display has been improved to the extent that it deviates by just one day in 122 years from the actual progress of the moon.
The IWC Caliber 98245 features a three-quarter plate produced of nickel silver, big Glucydur balance with weight-compensating screws and top precision adjustment cams and a lengthened precision adjustment index.
Portuguese Minute Repeater timepiece is equipped with the Caliber 98950 hunter pocket watch movement which comes with stylistic elements from the early Jones calibers. Some of these, such as the elongated index, the balance with its high-precision adjustment cam and the distinctively decorated plate and bridge made of nickel-silver with gold-plated engravings, can be seen through the transparent sapphire-glass back.
The movements from this family oscillate at the frequency of only 18,800 vibrations per hour and they provide 46 hours of power reserve.
The special version, Caliber 98845, is also a variation of IWC’s famous pocket watch Caliber 98. The beat of this caliber has been increased to 28,800 beats per hour, which required a general reworking. This caliber also has a free-sprung balance. It is built on 25 jewels and provides full 54 hours of power reserve when fully wound.
The last, but not the least is the Caliber 98900 which powers the Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound watch. For this model, IWC’s engineers increased the balance frequency to 28,800 beats per hour, which guarantees excellent accuracy. The index-free balance thus oscillates four times per second as it rotates in its cage. Precision adjustment is carried out via four adjusting screws. This movement can store enough energy to supply the power reserve of 54 hours.