IWC Minute Repeater


IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater

IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater Ref: 5240
Wearing a Minute Repeater feels sexy. When I'm wearing my minute repeater I feel special. There's virtually no chance that anyone is going to recognize it. When I activate the slide really only I can hear it. A tourbillon on the dial will catch the attention of everyone in the room. A minute repeater guarantees you're going to feel good about yourself, proud of your watch and you'll walk a little taller.

Introduced in 1995 catalogue, the IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater combines the size of the Portuguese Anniversary Series (42mm) with the minute repeating system which originated in the Grand Complication and later, the Il Destriero Scafusia. A team of watchmakers in Schaffhausen to converted the 34-piece system of cams, wheels, springs, hammers and snails into the pocketwatch movements that inhabit the Portgueser cases.

Lasting Beauty
From the outside, the watch is simple and understated with its classical look. It features a simple creamy, white dial with embossed Arabics and a depressed sub-seconds dial at 9 o'clock.

The slide mechanism on the left of the side of the watch is the only give away to what lies beneath the dial. And of course, the height of the watch is 11mm.

This is not to say that this a watch without heft. The watch weighs over100 grams.

Outside of it's large case, this is not a watch that will draw oohs and aahs. Like all Portuguesers it is the embodiment of refined lines and taste. However, when one takes the time to admire the brilliant subtleties of the watch. It is breathtaking. It has the now familiar brushed gold waistline balancing out the extremely polished gold top and bottom. The complexities of the multisurface case are revealed on closer examination. It is a three-piece case sealed just below the waist. The inward curve of the bezel compliments the large rolled lip of the undercase where deeply and boldly engraved the watch calls out its identity - REPETITION MINUTES - along with it's case number and edition number.

A minute repeater requires a special watchmaker - one part piano tuner, one part micro-mechanic and one part perfectionist. My watch when fully wound keeps extraordinarily accurate time -- after running 24 hours it is dead on. It has a listed power reserve of 42 hours, although like most IWCs, it will run longer. The 95290 is a slow beat (18,000 bph) power plant.

The base movement is a traditional pocket watch movement from IWC that was produced for many decades, the Cal.95. Which in base form is 37.8 mm, or 16 lignes with a height of 3.2mm and utilizes 17 functional jewels. In the 95290 movement the diameter remains the same, however the height more than doubles to 7.55mm and the functional jewel count more than triples to 54.


Movement side, Cal 95290
Dial side

I discovered that this watch likes to be wound. And it takes a long time to wind to full power. From a dead stop it takes 55 turns of the crown between the thumb and lateral edge of my index finger! For comparison IWC Mark XI's calibre 89 winds completely in 14 turns.

To me, the beauty of this watch is the depth of personality. From the surface it portrays the simplest of complications hours, minutes and seconds in a very classical layout.

It's when the slide is engaged that your ears are enraptured. First the hour hammer signals the hours by tapping the B flat gong, then almost simultaneously both gongs are rapped to signal the quarter hours. Then the E flat gong is delicately pounded by the minute hammer. Sweet music anytime.

This watch constantly reminds me to slow down and appreciate not only time passing, but also how fortunate I have been. In real-time, a flick of the wrist and your eyes relay to your brain what time it is in a nanosecond. However, when you have to slow down and wait 4-5 seconds for the strikes and then purposefully count them out, you have time to dwell on the significance of it all.

One of the difficulties in the beginning was getting used to the cerebral calculations that are necessary to tell the time. My eyes transmit it's a quarter to 10 to my brain, and then I'd hit the slide and listen as the chimes delivered 9 strikes for the hours, which would distress me ("why not 10? What's wrong?"). So I "learned" to slow down and read nine forty-five rather than a quarter to 10.

Although the mechanism moves quickly, to understand the inner workings, it helps to have read the 61 pages that detail the Minute Repeating System in the Manfred Fritz's "The Grand Complication by IWC" book. It explains in the most minute, but fascinating, detail all that must take place within the system for the watch to accurately chime the time.

The whole mechanism functions on several different planes within the movement. Unfortunately, in adapting the GC's repetition system to the Portugueser, the hammers are buried under the dial up near the 12. So they are invisible to the eye. While the eye is disappointed, the ear will never be. It is a mechanical marvel of engineering and design that such a sweet tone is able to emanate from such a small almost air tight space.

While I realize the cost is necessitated by the amount of effort and time it takes to create a watch of this calibre it obvious this darn thing costs as much as fine German automobile. However, I wish that every WIS gets to spend at least one day wearing a minute repeater. It truly is special.

A Sense of History
IWC's commitment to the Portuguese lineage ensures the traits we continually find pleasing from the introduction of the model in 1936 are passed along to each generation -- the sunken subsecond dial featuring engine-turned concentric circles and embossed Arabics topped with gold.

The gold dots that form the minute chapter are inlayed. The dots representing the 5-minute markers are slightly larger than the minute markers.

The Minute Repeater seen alongside a 1993 Jubilee Portugueser.

From spending time with this most elegant timepiece the subtleties become apparent. The crown is perfect sized with many ridges so it can be easily grabbed and wound. The heavenly feel of winding this movement is very similar to winding a Lange One, meaning it has a slight kickback, a reminder that this not an ordinary watch.




Hallmarks on 12:00 side

Would I change anything about this watch? You bet I would. Two things come to mind . "Probus Scafusa" is missing. One of the bridges needs the Schaffhausen insignia. The hallmarks are engraved between the 11 and 1 o'clock lugs, which means when you wear the watch you don't see them. I'd prefer to see them between the 5 and 7 o'clock lugs. Most of my watches are stainless steel; if the hallmarks were visible to me, it would be my little secret.

In spite of my use of words like elegant and classic, I wear my minute repeater with jeans, sneakers and box shirts. I've added a black croco Camille Fournet strap and an IWC deployant clasp as a further modification to my casual style. Having worn large watches for a couple of years, I find a 42mm case easy to wear, even though my left wrist is barely 7".

Compare it to a 44mm Panerai Luminor Marina

The IWC Portuguese Minute Repeater is a limited edition of 250 pieces each in yellow and rose gold and 50 in platinum.

To hear the IWC minute repeater chime the time (11:58), click or download here.

First you will hear 11 chimes followed by 3 double gongs for each 15 minute interval that has passed since 11:00 followed by 13 chimes of the gong for the 13 minutes that have elapsed since the third 15 minute interval.

Larry Seiden