For SIHH 2015, IWC makes a comeback with a variety of models, but one of the more interesting watches is the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month 75th Anniversary watch, which will be limited to 75 pieces in each of two red gold variations and 25 in platinum. Included in the package is a vast array of technical features, ranging from the expected perpetual calendar, an oversized digital date, a leap year display, and a chronograph with flyback ability—quite a lot of watch any way you look at it.
On the measure of both movement and case, you are looking at the world’s thinnest self-winding split-seconds chronograph and the flagship model in Vacheron Constantin’s new Harmony collection (as I introduced yesterday). The Vacheron Constantin Harmony Ultra-Thin Grand Complication Chronograph, ref 5400S/000P-B057, is an ultra-exclusive watch — only 10 will be made. The platinum case measures 8.4mm thin, with the new, 459-part VC Caliber 3500 inside coming in at 5.2mm. The caliber boasts springs as thin as 3/100ths of a millimeter, if you can fathom the level of miniaturization involved here. The Cal 3500 is important, and beautiful, for a number of reasons, including that it represents the first time in the range of Manufacture Vacheron Constantin calibers that we see a split seconds chrono movement with peripheral oscillating weight.
First look…see it and hear it…
A grand comp from Cartier? Yup. And here it is. The Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Grande Complication with 578-piece manufacture caliber 9406 MC has a perpetual calendar + a minute repeater + a flying tourbillon. The cal 9406 MC is also, as you can see, an automatic winding caliber powered by a micro-rotor with an impressive thickness of just 5.49mm. The watch cased in platinum, with dimensions of 45mm x 12.6mm.
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater presents a first for A. Lange & Söhne: that of a striking mechanism that sounds hours, ten-minute intervals, and minutes. Mind you, this is no ordinary minute repeater, but rather a decimal minute repeater—with jumping numerals to boot—and shows that Lange is all about brining out the big guns for SIHH this year. After all, when has the brand previously combined two unique complications into a distinctive package that sums up their approach to watchmaking in one fell swoop?
Mirror polished repeater hammers and angled gongs stand out on the dial of the watch
The right hammer chimes the minutes; the left chimes the hours. Both work in tandem to chime the 10 minutes in a double-strike. Unlike most repeaters which are activated by a slide, this watch is activated by a push of the button at 10 o’clock, which you can see here:
Here is an illustrated look at some of the placement of hammer and gongs in the decimal minute repeater:
If you asserted that the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater looked familiar, you’d be correct—other than the black-polished hammers peeking through the front of the watch, not much is different than the standard Zeitwerk. Even the case is the same sculpted shape—coming in at 44mm—which makes it a bit of a sleeper in Lange’s lineup. But the real surprise is that the watch is offered solely in platinum, as opposed to a variety of precious metals.
The Zeitwerk Minute Repeater is powered by Lange’s L043.5 manufacture movement.
Interestingly enough, the time discs hold off on changing until the minute repeater has finished chiming, which can take as long as 20 seconds. The acoustic time indication thus always corresponds to the time displayed on the dial. And to ensure that the watch won’t run out of juice while the minute repeater is working, the striking mechanism can’t be activated if the power reserve is less than 12 hours. It’s the perfect example of the micro engineering that makes us swoon over mechanical watches, and few are better at the little details than Lange.
Price? 440,000 Euros. Not for the faint of heart, yes, but then again, the Zeitwerk Minute Repeater isn’t for everyone, either.