IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater: A fine value in high complication watchmaking
It’s been well covered in the luxury watch press of late how tourbillon-fever has gripped the industry for the last several years. But what trend in complications is likely to come next? Some knowledgeable sources suggest that the minute repeater might be the next choice. In case you might not be familiar with what a minute repeater is, it is in a nutshell a watch which has a highly complicated and intricate mechanism that allows it to indicate the time (hours, quarter hours, and individual minutes) with distinctively tuned chimes. Any time the owner wishes to hear the time struck out, all he or she need do is activate a sliding lever or button, usually found on the side of the case, and presto – you will hear the time.
There’s no question that the minute repeater is a spectacular complication. However, it’s price is also astronomical, and on average considerably higher than the already very expensive tourbillon complication (to say nothing of the cost of servicing a minute repeater, due to the shortage of watchmakers who can service such an intricate and complex mechanism). While spending over 150K on a minute repeater watch may not deter many in the select group who are privileged enough to own these ticking masterpieces, there will be other enthusiasts who want a minute repeater, but the acquisition of such a timepiece is a once in a lifetime “holy grail”. Are there any minute repeating watches out there which are beautiful and pedigreed yet stay comparatively reasonable in price?
Happily, there is. The IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater watch is the one to have a close look at. This is a really wonderful watch, which in gold or platinum has the timelessly classic elegance which has made all of the watches in the Portuguese collection such a success for IWC. While it is not “inexpensive” in any measure of the term, the asking price of the IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater is well under the cost of competitive offerings from other high prestige watchmaking houses, largely due to the fact that a minute repeater module is united to a base manual winding movement. While not quite as visually breathtaking (i.e. you can’t see the minute repeater hammers in operation, as they are under the dial on the Portuguese) this construction enables IWC to offer this watch at a more reasonable price than were it an integrated design. Ultimately, this is a very beautiful and exclusive timepiece that gives you the “Queen of Complications” in a package which emphasizes classical aesthetics and embodies IWC’s highly respected emphasis on intelligent and practical horological innovation.