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IWC Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound F.A. Jones 5447-02 Luxury Watch Review

http://www.thewatchbox.com/watches/iwc The IWC Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound F.A. Jones is the stuff of dreams. One of only 50 manufactured in 18-karat yellow gold, this exclusive tribute to IWC's American founding father embodies the finest that Schaffhausen, Switzerland has to offer. Integrating tourbillon complications into established - and iconic - models like the Portuguese represents an exceptional challenge for watch designers. Aside from the immense engineering and craft hurdles to be surmounted in order to realize a tourbillon, integration of the mechanism requires a deft balance between preserving the look of a familiar face while according sufficient prominence to the signature complication. IWC's watchmakers thread the needle with virtuosity. All elements of the legendary Portuguese are retained on the Tourbillon F.A. Jones. Its 43mm case, ultra thin bezel, "railroad" minute track, Arabic numerals, and small seconds subdial recall the 1939 original with exceptional fidelity. IWC's Portuguese-market importers, the men who commissioned the original "Portugieser," would recognize the Portuguese Tourbillon at a glance. Thanks to IWC's modern strides as a house of high horology, classic lines are merely the beginning of the Portuguese Tourbillon's allure. Stunning contrast between the rich blue dial and golden halo at nine o'clock chapter ring sets the stage for the main event: a flying tourbillon. While other watchmakers locate tourbillon apertures without a guiding philosophy or vision, the IWC Portuguese Tourbillon exhibits its cardinal complication at nine o'clock or 270 degrees - west - on the compass. "Tourbillon" means "whirlwind" in French, and Atlantic trade winds blow from west to the east. IWC founder F.A. Jones' seminal journey from Boston to Schaffhausen is immortalized in poetic fashion. More than a wistful artistic statement, the IWC Portuguese Tourbillon embodies a living link to the mechanical legacy of F.A. Jones. The hand-wound caliber 98900 tourbillon movement represents a direct descendant of the caliber 98 originally developed during the 1930s and employed in the original IWC Portuguese "Ref. 325" models. That movement, in turn, was developed from a continuity of pocket watch designs originated by F.A. Jones himself during the late nineteenth century. But the hand-wound caliber 98900 also breaks new ground in IWC watchmaking technology. IWC increases the beat rate of the basic caliber 982 pocket watch from a stately 18,000 VpH (2.5hz) to a thoroughly contemporary 28,800 VpH (4hz) for improved precision. Additional stability is imparted to the tourbillon carriage by means of a full balance bridge. Unlike the cantilevered balance cock of the caliber 982, the full bridge is anchored on both sides in order to better insulate the tourbillon from shocks. Additional shock resistance arrives in the form of a free-sprung balance, and a traditional Breguet overcoil hairspring provides resistance to orientation-induced timing errors. Despite the higher beat rate and increased power demands of driving the tourbillon carriage, the IWC caliber 98900 retains a superb 54-hour power reserve. In 2010, IWC launched this limited edition yellow gold Portuguese Tourbillon F.A. Jones in exceptionally limited quantities. By the standards of a brand widely believed to deliver over 70,000 units per year, 50 examples of the 18-karat yellow gold IWC 544702 amounts to a rounding error. Rare, beautiful, and beautifully conceived, the IWC Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound F.A. Jones 5447-02 represents a true "grail watch" for connoisseurs of Schaffhausen's finest. See this IWC Portuguese Tourbillon F.A. Jones in high resolution images on www.thewatchbox.com. Video and content by Tim Mosso