Today, Replica IWC Portuguese is one of the most exciting watch brands around. Its watches are seen on the wrists of American actor Bradley Cooper, specifically the Big Pilot with seven-day power reserve (an upgraded version of the watch worn by Orlando Bloom), Lewis Hamilton, and even sharing the screen with Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz in The Bourne Legacy and Michael Douglas and Shia LeBeouf in Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The watches are big, bold, unabashedly masculine, symbols of power from the wrist backed by the brands history as a supplier to the military and its solid reputation for creating ultra-reliable tool watches.
But what you may not know is that quietly behind the scenes in the sleepy town of Schaffhausen, IWC has been one of the single greatest innovators in Swiss watchmaking. It was the first brand to industrialize the split-seconds chronograph, the minute repeater and the perpetual calendar. And in each instance, it brought a new level of reliability to these mechanisms. It was the first brand to create a luxury dive watch with a built-in depth gauge and make seven days of power reserve accessible to the average watch buyer. But its in the world of material innovation for its cases, in particular, that IWC has been uniquely groundbreaking. In fact, if it wasnt for IWC, two of the materials used most commonly in Swiss luxury watches, the ultra-light and strong titanium and the totally scratchproof ceramic, would have never entered the world of high watchmaking. Heres how it happened.
Titanium is so damnably strong and crazily resistant that it was used extensively in the US Air Forces spy plane SR-71 Blackbird that for over 30 years held the record as the fastest plane ever created. At its top speed of over 3,500 kilometers an hour, most metals would simply melt and disintegrate because of the heat generated by aerodynamic resistance. But not titanium. The Blackbird was so fast that standard operational procedure when a surface-to air missile was fired was simply to outrun it. The Blackbird could only be produced by fabricating its skin and structure largely from titanium.
But how IWC became the first watch brand in the world to create a watch made from this extraordinary material is really the tale of two extraordinary visionaries. The first is Ferdinand Alexander Butzi Porsche, son of the automobile companys founder and designer of its halcyon icon, the 911. Amazingly, 10 years after the launch of the 911, in the ultimate mic drop, he stepped away from the car industry to set up his own design firm with a focus on applying his sleek minimalist aesthetics and capacity for mechanically ingenious solutions to luxury objects like sunglasses, lighters and watches. The other was Gnter Blmlein, the man in charge of managing German industrial group VDOs watch brands IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre.
In the late 70s, the watchmaking industry was reeling from the assault of cheap Japanese-made quartz watches and Blmlein recognized that the only way for IWC to survive was to reach all-new audiences. In his collaboration with Porsche, he dreamed up an extraordinarily futuristic chronograph watch. The Porsche Design Titan Chronograph reference 3704 was characterized by a pared-back functionality, an enticing ergonomic shape that included integrated pushers, and a case and bracelet fully fabricated from titanium.
Says Kurt Klaus, IWCs former technical director, IWC had to pioneer the technology for crafting titanium cases. One issue was that the material had a tendency to ignite during the machining process, and so we had to find new ways to cool it more effectively. It was truly stepping into the unknown. When the watch was unveiled in 1980, it was a shockingly advanced demonstration of what the future of Swiss watchmaking could look like.
IWC soon began to experiment with titanium for additional collaborations and it naturally found its way into an all-new dive watch, Porsche Design and IWCs Ocean family launched in 1982. Says Klaus, In addition to having a great strength-to-weight ratio, titanium is one of the most resistant materials to corrosion, and so it was very logical to choose it for a watch that would be immersed in seawater. The most popular model amongst these was the Ocean 2000, which achieved 2,000 meters of water-resistance without a helium-release valve.