Watchmaking Masterclass with IWC

There’s no doubt I’ve done some pretty nice things with TVG up till now, but nothing has even come close to the watchmaking masterclass with IWC I did last Thursday (and probably won’t for a long time).

Last Thursday I was invited to attend a watchmaking masterclass at the Shangri-La hotel with International Watch Co. I donned my houndstooth jacket and penny loafers and headed to Shangri-La’s palatial Altitude restaurant on Level 36 for an afternoon of watchmaking, wine and wonderful timepieces.

It was a small and intimate affair, with only 6 guests from other publications and retail stores, we began the day with some delightful hors d’oeuvres and champagne. I was very weary of consuming to much champagne pre handling tiny screwdrivers and minute screws, so I kept it to one glass. We sat and watched an exciting video showcasing the watchmaking process at Schaffhausen and the IWC watch families. Something very unique to IWC is the clear differences between each model in their range. Each timepiece belongs to a themed family and has been designed to fit in while offering its own unique selling point. IWC is a brand where you could own a different and specific piece from each family group and it has never really dawned on me until Thursday. Where other company’s are just pushing out models they think will sell, each model in IWC’s range has a purpose and I think it adds a lot of legitimacy to the brand and really harnesses the traditions of watchmaking.

I was eagerly anticipating the hands on part of the class and the dark wooden box in front of me was beckoning to be opened. The watch technician prompted us to remove the dust cover on the movement, open the box and remove the selection of tweezers, screwdrivers and other magical tools of the trade, including of course a magnifying eye piece. My interest in watchmaking has always revolved around the fascination in the mechanical artwork you can wear on your wrist and getting hands on with a real movement has only got me more interested. We used a basic hand wound IWC movement that formed the framework for a number of their movements with the ability to add other functions such as chronograph and perpetual moonphase. Breaking down the movement had been simplified for us to a degree with colour coded screws but the process was exactly the same, from pulling out the cannon pinion to releasing the tension on the main spring so the rest of the movement could be deconstructed. It was great to understand how each part of the movement worked together and how each fitted perfectly into place to make the movement function. I got mine back together quickly but hadn’t engaged the teeth of two of the central wheels properly and thus couldn’t rengage the mainspring and wind the movement – back to square one!

After completing the movement rebuild we headed to the private dining room overlooking Circular Quay and got stuck into some lovely wine, delicious food and great (heavily watch based!) conversation. It was a fascinating experience and an honor to partake in with one of the foremost horology brands in the world. Understanding the movement has only increased my love for traditional watchmaking techniques. Being taught by a company I love and one that has shaped the industry as it is today, promoting excellence and innovation is something truly special.

Here are some more shots from the day, I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Top Gun Miramar 

Portuguese Perpetual Calendar in Platinum

Portuguese Hand Wound Tourbillon Rose Gold

Everyday Pilot. Special occasion Portuguese.

Happy Pilots family

Distracting view

Lovely Pinot – a real highlight

View from the Dining Room

Vintage Collection Portuguese Hand Wound. My favourite of the day without doubt.

Top Gun Miramar on the wrist. Humble head turner.


James is the Founder and Editor of The Versatile Gent.

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