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Perhaps the most visually striking timepiece to premiere at the Salon International de Haute Horlogerie in January was International Watch Company’s Tribute to Pallweber Edition 150 Years. Celebrating its 150th in 2018, this gorgeous wristwatch, a tribute to one of the company’s most original pocket watches, is also the most distinctive new design to come from IWC in a long time.
A bit of backstory: IWC was born in 1868 when American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones decided to give up his position at the Boston-based E. Howard & Co. to set up shop overseas in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Later in 1883, the Austrian watchmaker Josef Pallweber patented the first ever digital pocket watch—meaning that time was displayed via numbers as opposed to an analog clock where the hours and minutes are indicated by the positions of rotating hands. Pallweber called it his “jump-hour” mechanism (when the seconds hand crosses the “60” mark, the minutes and hours jump simultaneously). And the timepiece featured two windows set in an enamel dial, through which the hours and minutes were visible on rotating discs.
Pallweber didn’t have his own factory so he licensed his concept to several watchmakers including Jones and IWC, who produced its version from about 1885 to 1887. Only about 20,000 were ever made, making it one of IWC’s rarest (and most desirable) timepieces.
Fast-forward to 2018 and the debut of IWC’s first-ever wristwatch to feature this classic digital hour and minute display. The minimalist dial design was daring for the 19th century, which is why it still looks so chic today. And even though IWC has traveled back in time for inspiration, the Tribute to Pallweber Edition 150 Years is very of-the-moment: the glossy, white lacquer face has streamlined numerals and lettering and, with its 45mm, 12mm thick, red gold case has plenty of wrist presence without feeling too bulky.
It’s what’s inside this elegant timepiece that really counts. It takes a lot of energy to power the jump hour displays, so the Tribute to Pallweber is driven by the caliber 94200 hand-wound, 54-jewel movement, which IWC developed just for this timepiece. The movement has two barrels, each with its own gear train. The first controls the Breguet overcoil-equipped balance and escapement–and therefore the analog seconds hand. The second gear train drives the digital hour and minute disks.
Priced at approximately $38,600 and limited to 250 pieces, the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” in red gold (ref. IW505002) will be available in April 2018 at IWC boutiques and retailers. Visit iwc.com for more information.