IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Ref. IW544906 and IW544907

The minute repeater mechanism from IWC Schaffhausen, which features in the Grande Complication and Portuguese Minute Repeater, is one of the most beautiful and exclusive horological complications.

This model, which was launched in 2009, is stylistically consistent with its predecessors – the most noticeable difference being that the seconds display has moved from “9 o’clock” to “6 o’clock”.

The minute repeater, which, because of its level of horological complexity, is built far less frequently today than the tourbillon, for example, is the most emotional of all the watch complications. Not only is it a feast for the eyes, but it is also music to the ears and penetrates directly into the realm of human feelings, where it strikes very archaic chords. Making the actual time audible and measurable once again, in the same way as the tower clocks with their striking mechanism, adds a quality to the perception of time beyond a fleeting or even lingering glance at the dial.

IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Platinum Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544906

In the 1980s, when IWC Schaffhausen developed a minute repeater of its own for its Grande Complication model and invested many thousands of man-hours into this project, it not only arrived at a result that was technically outstanding in every respect, but it also acquired a taste for it. This acoustic work of art on the wrist, which, in response to a movement of the slide, chimes out the time accurately to the minute on two gongs with different pitches, has since been a permanent feature of its speciality watches.

IWC has developed and produced a considerable number of repeating mechanisms in the last two decades – for the Grande Complication, the Il Destriero Scafusia and for various limited series of repeating watches ( built since 1995 in the case of the Portuguese model.

All were powered by the proven IWC 95290 calibre pocket watch movement. This is a very accurate, very traditional and very slim drive mechanism of the so-called Lépine type intended for openface pocket watches.

IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Platinum Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544906
IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Platinum Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544906

In the new Portuguese Minute Repeater, the case has grown by two millimetres to 44 millimetres, the height is now 14 millimetres, and the number of watches will be limited to 500 each in platinum and rose gold.

The Portuguese Minute Repeater has been given a larger case to accommodate a new drive mechanism. Once again, this is a hand-wound pocket watch movement – the 98950 calibre – of which the origins can be traced back to the 1920s and which has since been the subject of constant nurture, improvement and modernisation.

IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Platinum Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544906

It is a movement with real staying power, which has retained its virtues, but has also been enhanced with a few of the stylistic elements of the early Jones calibres: balance with high-precision adjustment cam on the balance bars, Breguet balance spring, nickel-silver three-quarter bridge, long precision adjustment index and special decoration with gilt engraving.

IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Red Gold Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544907
IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater Red Gold Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544907

To explain the small difference that is visible on the dial, involving the relocation of the seconds display from“9 o’clock” to “6 o’clock”, a few horological details need to be added: the 98000 calibre family has always been a so-called Savonette or hunter movement, designed for pocket watches with a hinged cover.

This means that the winding stem (crown) and the small seconds hand lie at an angle of 90 degrees in relation to one another. Conversely, in the Lépine style, which includes the 95 calibre family, the wheel train arrangement has the winding stem and the small seconds hand in a straight line. It actually makes sense for an open-face pocket watch to have the seconds display at “6 o’clock”. This is a rather unusual position in a pocket watch for the wrist, which is viewed like a watch with a hinged cover, because the seconds display must then be positioned at “9 o’clock”.

IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Red Gold Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544907

All previous Portuguese Minute Repeaters have featured and have been distinguishable by this minor eccentricity. Most wearers even find the unaccustomed arrangement charming. On the other hand, the present Portuguese Minute Repeater will appeal to lovers of the classic dial design.

Stylistically, the new Portuguese Minute Repeater is consistent with the previous models. The repeating mechanism, in which 205 individual parts act in concert as if in a mechanical orchestra, also remains largely the same. This strikes all the hours that have passed since the last twelve o’clock on its lower-pitched gong, the quarters that have passed since the last full hour as double strikes, and the minutes that have passed since the last quarter as strikes on the higher-pitched gong.

It has an all-or-nothing mechanism, which ensures that the chiming sequence is only activated when the lateral repeating slide is depressed correctly. The repeating slide brings the horological exclusivity of this speciality watch to the notice of a connoisseur.

IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Red Gold Version with Silver-Plated Dial, Reference IW544907

The transparent sapphire glass back provides a view of the finely decorated movement, of which the balance oscillates at a rate of 18,000 beats per hour.

Technical details

Model: IWC Schaffhausen Portuguese Minute Repeater Ref. IW5449

Versions
Reference IW544906: Platinum version with silver-plated dial and black alligator leather strap
Reference IW544907: Red gold version with silver-plated dial and brown alligator leather strap

Movement
Calibre 98950 calibre mechanical movement, hand-wound, small hacking seconds
Beats: 18,000/h
Jewels: 52
Power reserve: 46 h
Winding: hand-wound

Case, dial and strap
Reference IW544907: 18 ct red gold with silver-plated dial and brown alligator leather strap, folding clasp in 18 ct red gold
Reference IW544906: Platinum with silver-plated dial and black alligator leather strap, folding clasp in platinum
Glass: sapphire, arched edge, antireflective coating on both sides
Back: see-through sapphire-glass back
Diameter: 44mm
Height: 14 mm

Edition
Limited to 500 watches in platinum and 500 watches in 18 ct red gold

Other references of the IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater watch
Ref. IW544901: Platinum case, white dial and black alligator leather strap
Ref. IW544903: White gold case, gray dial and brown alligator leather strap
Ref. IW544905: Red gold case, silver-plated dial and brown alligator leather strap

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