These Watches Look Vintage But Show Time With A Digital Display

IWC's new Pallweber Edition timekeepers recall the form of its historic pocket watch.

How do you celebrate your 150th birthday? If you are Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC, you shake up the ocassion by giving the gifts.

To well-wishers, watch watchers, and the rest of the world, it presents a slew of shiny new things to play with in the form of limited-edition watches from its popular Da Vinci, Portofino, Portugieser, and Big Pilot's Watch series.

Also in the mix is the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years,” a pocket watch (reference IW505101) with, yes, a long and very specific name because it is the most special among the jubilee pieces. 

The IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” is the first pocket watch from IWC with a digital hours and minutes display since the production of the Pallweber pocket watch was discontinued in 1890. IMAGE: IWC

Of note, this is the first new pocket watch IWC has made in the 21st century, and is limited to only 50 pieces, making it highly collectible (and surely beyond expensive).


More important, it calls back to the historic Pallweber pocket watches that IWC manufactured in 1884. The original showed the hours and minutes in a digital format, which was a rare and revolutionary feature during the time. The new ones also present time in a digital fashion via two windows, which are labeled as “hours” and “minutes,” a detail that tributes the 1884 design. 

The red gold case is elaborately decorated with guilloche work. IMAGE: IWC

An item meant to be ogled, the pocket watch comes in an 18-carat red gold case with, of course, a matching 18-carat red gold chain. When opened, you are greeted with a pristine face: a slate of lacquered white with just two black numerals, two circular outlines, and a pop of blue in the small seconds hand. When closed, you can still view the time. Windows on the cover reveal the hours and minutes.

The entire effect is a trip: a digital format on an old-school form, which, in the hands of IWC, is really a well-matched juxtaposition that makes the pocket watch an invention that fits into today. 

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But if you'd rather wear time on your wrist (maybe your pockets are always full?), there are versions of the new Pallweber with a band (reference 5050). Notably, this is the first time IWC employs digital displays for hours and minutes on a wristwatch.

The Pallweber Edition wristwatch in platinum comes with a white dial, blue display discs, and a blued seconds hand. IMAGE: IWC

The Pallweber Edition wristwatch in 18-carat red gold comes with a white dial, white display discs, and a blued seconds hand. IMAGE: IWC

The Pallweber Edition wristwatch in stainless steel comes with a blue dial, white display discs, and a rhodium-plated seconds hand. IMAGE: IWC

In this series, there are three metals to choose from, each of which has been limited according to preciousness: only 25 platinum, 250 red gold, and 500 stainless steel watches have been produced. (Don't think less of the steel though, because that one comes with a handsome blue face.)

In time for its 150th anniversary, IWC's new Manufakturzentrum opens on the outskirts of the Swiss town of Schaffhausen. IMAGE: IWC

One more bit of good news: Just a few days ago, IWC inaugurated its newest manufacture (another way of calling the place where it makes watches) in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. The new facility combines the production of components, movements (done by hand), and cases in one place, which just means the continued creation of even more beautiful and technically advanced watches for you.  

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