Even in the historic universe that is Swiss watchmaking, a century and a half is a long time to be in business. This year, IWC celebrates its 150th anniversary — the perfect occasion on which to release its commemorative Jubilee collection. Encompassing a whopping 27 different watches, the scope of the collection is massive, including everything from perpetual calendar tourbillons to bustdown moon phases. That being said, the Jubilee watches all share certain uniform design tropes, with the details tying every watch together (largely) well executed.
All models in the collection feature lacquered dials in either blue or white. An ode to IWC’s historically important Pallweber design — which gets its own release in the form of a wristwatch — each Jubilee dial is painted, brushed and polished; providing a high contrast backdrop against which to utilise printing. (All watches in the collection feature printed markers.) For good measure, the designers at IWC equipped the 150th anniversary models with black alligator straps; and taken together, these marginal (mostly aesthetic) touches give the collection an appropriate sense of occasion. It’s genuinely surprising just how transformative the combination of lacquer, printed indexes and leather can be on tool watches such as the Pilot Chronograph.
Of the 27 Jubilee releases, the vast majority are riffs on well established IWC collections (think Portugieser, Portofino, and Da Vinci). However, for its 150th anniversary, IWC opted to include a very special new addition in the form of the Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years”. The Tribute model is a direct homage to the famous (if short lived) 19th-century pocket watch of the same name. Faithfully recreating the dimensions of the original, the Tribute to Pallweber inherits a distinctive 45mm case and three-disc dial. The result is a watch that wears large and prominent on the wrist, a phenomenon further accentuated by the dial’s openness. Aesthetics aside, it represents the best of IWC’s in-house capabilities: Whereas the original Pallweber was powered by an Elgin movement (utilising a forked cock in the gear train), the current model is given an upgrade in the form of IWC’s calibre 94200. There’s a lot to love about the calibre 94200: The new in-house movement delivers a hefty, 60-hour power reserve and features a dedicated wheel for the Tribute’s minute disc. Separating the power sources for the minute and hour discs helps produce an interesting visual effect whereby a prominent numeric “jump” occurs at the top of the watch’s digital hour display (i.e. every hour and 59 minutes). In line with the rest of the Jubilee collection, the 94200 inside the Tribute is also decorated with a gold medallion commemorating IWC’s 150th anniversary.
Overall, the Jubilee collection is a robust effort from everyone’s favourite Schaffhausen watchmaker. IWC intended to make its commemorative releases as accessible as possible, and they should be commended for a strategy which caters to both high rollers and budding enthusiasts alike. (Prices range between US$4,700 and $249,000). For lovers of rare historic curiosities, the Tribute to Pallweber is, of course, the star offering. With its “dinner plate” proportions and steampunk styling, it’s already proving to be the most talked about and divisive model from the collection. Thankfully, the sheer scale of what’s on offer means that there’s sure to be something for every collector — at least while stocks last.
The Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” is available in stainless steel (US$23,100), red gold (US$36,600) or platinum (US$57,800). To view the rest of the Jubilee collection, visit IWC.