IWC Schaffhausen ups its game by offering the Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon, already fitted with a game-changing complication, as a customisable timepiece

The only constant — so says the old adage — is change. But in the world of haute horlogerie, this is not entirely true because, in watchmaking, all efforts are channelled into creating consistency. And for centuries now, one specific inconsistency has challenged inventors and watchmakers: When a watch is fully wound, the mainspring generates its maximum torque, which results in maximum amplitude. But as the tension in the barrel decreases, so too do the oscillations. This phenomenon has a negative effect on the accuracy of a mechanical watch.

It took 10 years for engineers, watchmakers and designers at IWC Schaffhausen to find an answer to this issue, and the result of their efforts is a highly complex constant- force mechanism integrated in a tourbillon. The constant-force mechanism ensures that the escapement delivers an absolutely even supply of power and unprecedented precision.

To drive the tourbillon and the constant-force mechanism, engineers equipped the calibre 94800 with twin barrels. Together, they supply enough power to keep the mechanism running for about 48 hours. After two days, the available torque is no longer sufficient, at which point, the tourbillon automatically reverts to normal mode and advances at the rate of five steps a second, or at the same speed as the beats in the balance.

This patented complication was the starring feature of the Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia back in 2011, and then in the 2013 Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon. This year, the complex calibre 94800 returns to its first home, the Portugieser, this time gifted with a feature that truly makes it a rare acquisition — the opportunity for owners to customise this incredible timepiece.

The 2017 edition of IWC’s Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon is offered as a made-to-order watch.

Choose between red gold or platinum for the 46mm case and numerals; four dials in white, black, blue or anthracite; and Santoni alligator leather straps in classic brown or black. You can also get your initials engraved on the caseback — if you have a long name I would suggest choosing your favourite letters as the real estate back there is minimal.

Based on existing orders, the most popular choice is the blue dial with a red gold case, although I am quite partial to the anthracite/platinum combination myself, especially when paired with a black strap with contrasting white stitching. The metallic finish of the blue and anthracite dials reflect the light beautifully.

Speaking of the dial, one must compliment the sublime aesthetic that dictates its layout — the tourbillon is the dial’s most eye-catching feature at 9 o’clock, double moon phases for the Northern and Southern Hemispheres are located at 1 o’clock and the 96-hour power reserve indicator occupies an elegant arc over 4 o’clock and 5 o’clock.

The watches are priced at RM1.01 million ($325,344) for the red-gold version and RM1.12 million for the platinum one. You cannot go wrong with this timepiece, no matter which combination you opt for. The force, it must be said, is indeed strong with this one.

Anandhi Gopinath is assistant editor of the Options desk at The Edge Malaysia

This article appeared in Issue 788 (July 24) of The Edge Singapore.