The first mention of Schaffhausen in horological history dates back to 1409, for the clock made for the Church of St. John. It is, therefore, no surprise that this place became the location of the International Watch Company (IWC).
The vision of Florentine Ariosto Jones, an American engineer and watchmaker, led to the establishment of this prestigious watch house. Schaffhausen continues to be the hub of activity of this company even after 145 years.
His idea was simple – to combine the modern, mechanical precision of overseas with the antique, aesthetical distinction of Switzerland. His objective – to create high-quality horological wonders for the connoisseurs.
With time, the IWC has crossed several milestones. It has created timeless classics that impressed even the finickiest customers. It has developed mechanical functions that made their way to the list of the most coveted complications in a watch.
Here is a look at one of the IWC’s design classics – The Portuguese Grande Complication.
Limited Edition – Rare and Exclusive
The name of the Portuguese sailor Vasco da Gama embodies the best in navigation and exploration; similar to that, the name of the Portuguese Grande Complication personifies the best in aesthetics and mechanisms of watch making.
The crown jewel of the IWC’s Portuguese Family, this watch is a piece for the elite few. The IWC makes sure that this grand watch is an exclusive piece. Only 100 watches are made in a year; 50 in platinum and 50 in red gold. The timepiece attains the status of a collectible because of its limited availability.
Another reason behind the limited number of these luxury watches is the number of hours that experts need to put in to create every single component both on the inside and the outside. Even the strap of the watch is hand stitched to perfection!
The Dial – The Face it Presents
The first thing that captures the attention is the engraving of the world on the silver-plated dial. The intricacy with which the latitudes and longitudes of the globe are carved on the dial is proof of the craftsmanship involved.
Just turn the dial around and you would find another beautiful engraving of the sextant – another must-have for mariners. This is another sign that this classic timepiece belongs to the Portuguese Family crafted by the IWC. The arched edge, the elaborate design and the elegant material epitomize the world-class aesthetic the watch house is famous for.
The case of the Grande Complication comes in two variants – red gold and platinum. The dial has a diameter of 45mm and is embellished with 75 jewels. The sapphire glass and the anti-reflective coat ensure protection of the details on the dial.
The Strap – Handcrafted Beauty
Alligator leather straps are used for the Portuguese Grande Complication. To ensure that the leather for the straps is not from any endangered species, the IWC sources the raw materials from licensed US farms.
The appropriate choice of the source also guarantees the quality of the alligator leather that is used to create the straps for this beauty. Black alligator leather straps, stitched with platinum thread, set off the smooth platinum case. Dark brown alligator leather straps, stitched with 18-karat red gold thread, bring out the beauty of the red gold case.
What makes the strap even more attractive is that it is hand-stitched by the master craftsmen at the watch house! When the human hand creates each piece separately, no two pieces are exactly the same; every watch becomes an individual.
Complications – Engineered Precision
The self-winding Grande Complication has a 44-hour reserve of power when fully wound. Its mechanical chronograph movement and its stopwatch function, that includes hours, minutes and even seconds, is only the first hint of its amazing mechanisms.
One of horology’s greatest feats – the perpetual calendar – is incorporated in this watch. The date, day, month and year (in four digits) and the moon phases are on display on the dial. What makes this calendar unique is the fact that it does not need regular adjustments until 2499 (you just need to adjust it in the non-leap years – 2100, 2200 and 2300).
The minute repeater strike train is another complex mechanism that this classic piece integrates. You can understand the complicacy of the mechanism when you check out the time it took to create it – 50,000 hours!
How does this work? The striking repeating slide on the left side of the dial is not only for aesthetics. You can activate the minute repeater strike with this slide. The two gongs inside the mechanism chime out the precise time with perfect harmony and clarity. Every piece is handmade, and come with the IWC quality guarantee.
The identity of the Portuguese Grande Complication watch is in its brilliant blend of beauty and mechanism. No luxury watch collection is complete without this piece, especially if you admire and appreciate the timepieces for explorers and navigators.
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