IT`S STAR TIME

IT`S STAR TIME
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IT'S STAR TIME
T HE PORT UGUESE SIDÉRALE SCAFUSIA SHINES BRIGHT LY IN T HE WAT CH FIRMAMENT
TEXT — IWC
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PHOTOS — Felix Streuli
FACE BO O K
E M AI L
DATE — 29 August, 2011
2 CO M M E NTS — J O I N T HE DI S CUS S I O N
The Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia is another star up in the firmament of Haute Horlogerie radiating from IWC Schaffhausen. Ten
years of intensive development work have gone into this impressive masterpiece. Its creators include external specialists from various
disciplines, without whom this combination of solar and sidereal time would not have been possible. Find out more about the minds behind the
Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia.
THIS P ROJE CT HA S INV OLV E D S OME OF OUR S TA FF FROM THE B E GINNING OF THE IR W ORK ING LIV E S ,
A ND A CCOUNTS FOR THE IR E NTIRE CA RE E R TO DA TE
—Stefan Ihnen
STEFAN IHNEN
Trained as a watchmaker and qualified as a master craftsman, studied micro and precision
engineering and obtained a postgraduate qualification in business management. A total of ten
years as a watchmaker; a developer and designer at IWC since 2002. Appointed Head of
Research and Development (R&D) Movements in 2006; since May 2010 Technical Director,
responsible among other things for the “Sidérale project”.
THE PORTUGUESE SIDÉRALE SCAFUSIA IS A “GESAMTKUNSTW ERK”: A
TOTAL ARTW ORK. W HAT DO YOU FIND MOST EXCITING ABOUT THIS
W ATCH?
—Stefan Ihnen, Technical Director with IWC
Schaffhausen
Ihnen: The fascination of this timepiece lies in the number and combination of its
complications. The constant-force tourbillon is the most obvious highlight. But squeezed into
very little room on the back of the watch is a star chart together with displays for the horizon
and geographical coordinates, solar time, sidereal time, sunrise and sunset times, as well as
a display that shows daytime, nighttime and twilight. And we should also mention the fact that
there’s a complete, integrated perpetual calendar behind the number of the day of the year.
THIS PROJECT HAS INVOLVED A W HOLE TEAM OF STAFF FOR TEN YEARS.
W HAT ARE THE REPERCUSSIONS OF SUCH A LONG DEVELOPMENT TIME?
PORTUGUESE SIDÉRALE
Ihnen: Yes, it’s true: some of our employees have been working on this watch from the start
SCAFUSIA
of their working lives, and it accounts for their entire career to date. The Portuguese Sidérale
Scafusia was in its infancy when I joined IWC as a development engineer. Later I
V IEW DETA ILS
accompanied the project as Departmental Head, and am now in charge of it as Technical
Director. As a result, we all have an unusually close relationship with the Portuguese Sidérale
Scafusia. It’s like a little child that’s grown up and is about to fly the nest. This feels like rather
a wrench, but there is also a sense of immense pride.
HAVE THERE BEEN MOMENTS YOU W ON’T FORGET?
Ihnen: Yes, quite a few. One particularly uplifting moment was when we held the first two
fully assembled prototypes in our hands, and all the functions performed flawlessly. One of
the watches had already rewarded our efforts by passing all the scheduled laboratory tests
with flying colours. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the whole team for their exceptional
dedication, their unflagging enthusiasm for the project, and their unshakeable belief in the
Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia.
THE K E Y FA CTOR W A S THA T E V E RY ONE W A S V E RY E NTHUS IA S TIC A B OUT THE P RODUCT A ND S P A RE D
NO E FFORT TO MA K E IT A S UCCE S S
—Thomas Gäumann
THOMAS GÄUMANN
Trained as a watchmaker and then studied engineering in France, Germany and Switzerland,
Executive MBA in Zurich. Project Manager and driving force behind the development of the
94900 calibre since 2005.
YOU ARE THE PROJECT LEADER W HO TURNED JEAN-FRANÇOIS MOJON’S
DESIGN TO REALITY. HOW DIFFICULT W AS IT FOR THE DEVELOPERS,
SPECIALISTS AND W ATCHMAKERS TO W ORK TOGETHER?
—Thomas Gäumann, Head of Research and
Gäumann: The cooperation was both challenging and extremely interesting for all involved. It
Development (R&D) Movements at IWC
called for a lot of tenacity from everyone, especially during the development of the technical
innovations, when success was sometimes slow in coming. The key factor, though, was that
everyone was enthusiastic about the product and spared no effort to make it a success.
Without this exceptional dedication, the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia might have never
made it off the drawing board.
FROM PROTOTYPE CONSTRUCTION TO PROCUREMENT AND THE TEST
STAGE, THERE W ERE MANY OBSTACLES TO OVERCOME. W HAT ARE YOU
ESPECIALLY PROUD OF?
Gäumann: I’m certainly very pleased that the complex constant-force escapement functioned
flawlessly, and practically from the start. Considering that the balance was developed from
scratch, the Breguet spring has been optimized in our Timing Department, and parts of the
escapement are precision-made to one-thousandth of a millimetre, I reckon that was no
mean feat.
W HAT DISTINGUISHES THE MOVEMENT OF THE PORTUGUESE SIDÉRALE
SCAFUSIA FROM OTHER IW C MOVEMENTS?
Gäumann: Apart from the development time and the impressive dimensions of the
movement, the calibre has other distinctive features that set it apart. The star chart and the
horizon, together with the times of sunrise and sunset, are calculated and displayed as
stipulated by the customer. This means the individual components have to be custom-made.
Then they are individually assembled and adjusted. A watchmaking masterpiece does call for
a little extra attention.
ONLY THE V E RY B E S T IS GOOD E NOUGH. THE RE IS NO ROOM FOR COMP ROMIS E W ITH THE P ORTUGUE S E
S IDÉ RA LE S CA FUS IA
—Mario Klein
MARIO KLEIN
_Graduated in mechanical engineering; worked as a design engineer and project manager in
the automotive industry. More than 50 registered patents. Joined IWC in 2006; responsible for
several product groups. For the past three years he has been Product _
MARIO KLEIN, W HEN DID YOU GET INVOLVED AS PRODUCT MANAGER?
Klein: My real work on the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia began three years ago, when we
started working on the design. The brief was clear: despite its numerous complications and
functions, we wanted to create a classic, wearable, good-looking watch with recognizable
Portuguese DNA. At 17.5 millimetres, the height of the watch is relatively modest. It’s waterresistant to 3 bar, has an appealing, uncluttered dial and, despite the giant tourbillon, is the
soul of understatement. It only becomes clear that the watch is unique and functions as a
personalized precision instrument when you view it from the back.
EVERY ORDER CROSSES YOUR DESK, AND EVERY PORTUGUESE
SIDÉRALE SCAFUSIA IS A ONE-OFF. THERE’S AN INDIVIDUALIZED STAR
CHART AND A PERSONAL CHOICE OF MATERIALS AND COLOURS. W HAT
DOES THAT MEAN FOR YOU?
Klein: Essentially the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia breaks the mould. Every single watch is
an individual project, with its own article number, specific components list, its own
—Mario Klein, Product Group Manager with IWC
Schaffhausen
watchmaker and laborious logistics. There are specific holders of responsibility for every
stage of the project. In addition to project supervision, I calculate – to the metre – the grid
reference of the customer’s chosen location – say the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. Then I set
the sidereal time in line with the chart. By the way, the chart measures a proud 28 millimeters
and is made in-house as a complex, four-colour print of sensational quality.
FUNCTIONS, QUALITY, DESIGN … IS EVERYTHING ABOUT THE
PORTUGUESE SIDÉRALE SCAFUSIA MORE OR LESS UNIQUE?
Klein: Only the very best is good enough. There’s no room for compromise with the
Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia. Every single one of the countless details has to be flawless,
but the composition as a whole must be perfect, too. The owner may wear the watch for a
few years, but he will never stop discovering surprising new things about it. From the reengineered folding clasp to the battery-operated watch winder, everything focuses on quality,
functionality and user-friendliness. When you hold this watch in your hand, you literally feel
the passion that has gone into its creation
ONE A S P E CT OF THE W ORK ON THE P ORTUGUE S E S IDÉ RA LE S CA FUS IA THA T THRILLS ME IS
MINIA TURIZING THE OV E RW HE LMING S CA LE OF THE COS MOS
—Stefan Brass
STEFAN BRASS
After school-leaving exams, he qualified as a watchmaker and master craftsman; with IWC
since 1998. Works in the specialties department, assembling among other things the Grande
Complication and the minute repeater. At IWC he will work on the Portuguese Sidérale
Scafusia.
STEFAN BRASS, A RATHER SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT AW AITS YOU IN THE
PORTUGUESE SIDÉRALE SCAFUSIA. W HAT ATTRACTS YOU TO THE
PROJECT?
Brass: The complexity of the mechanics is very impressive but the thing that really spurs me
on is the idea of combining the astronomical displays and reproducing them precisely on the
watch. Here at IWC, we already have an incredibly precise moon phase display. By contrast,
the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia combines a star chart with displays for the horizon,
sidereal time, sunrise, sunset and twilight. I am responsible for the watch as a whole. Each
one is tailor-made to the customer’s specifications.
W HAT SKILLS QUALIFIED YOU FOR THIS SPECIAL ASSIGNMENT?
Brass: As a Master Watchmaker, I have many years of watchmaking experience under my
belt. I’m very familiar with complications like the minute repeater and perpetual calendar and
I’ve been working on the tourbillon for some time now. My work on the Grande Complication
has familiarized me with the autonomous approach. In principle, it means that the same
watchmaker is responsible for assembling the watch from start to finish. At the same time,
my basic knowledge of astronomy is useful when I’m working on the settings and checking
the functions of the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia.
ASTRONOMY IS ONE OF YOUR HOBBIES, TOO. W HAT ATTRACTS YOU TO
IT?
Brass: I’ve been interested by the physical movements of the stars and the universe in
general since I was a young lad. I’m totally fascinated by the immeasurable forces and
—Stefan Brass, Master Watchmak er with IWC
distances in the cosmos, and the countless phenomena to be found there such as pulsars,
novas and black holes. Something else that impresses me is the technology available to
astrophysicists for observation, which is constantly developing and enabling them to reach
further. One aspect of the work on the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia that thrills me is
miniaturizing the overwhelming scale of the universe.
DE V E LOP ING THE P ORTUGUE S E S IDÉ RA LE S CA FUS IA W A S LIK E CLIMB ING A HIGH MOUNTA IN
—Jean-François Mojon
JEAN-FRANÇOIS MOJON
Graduated in engineering and microtechnology, followed by postgraduate degrees in
business and quality management. With IWC from 1995 to 2005, latterly as Head of
Development. Developed the concept of the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia and designed the
movement.
IT TOOK YOU AROUND TEN YEARS TO GET THE PORTUGUESE SIDÉRALE
SCAFUSIA READY FOR SERIES PRODUCTION. W OULD YOU CALL IT A
SUCCESS STORY?
—Jean-François Mojon, Independent Designer
and Developer
Mojon: It was certainly an adventure! It was like climbing a high mountain. There were times
when we surged ahead. There were also times when it took a lot of effort to solve the
problems that arose. But it was precisely these challenges that encouraged us to turn the
idea of the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia into reality. Ultimately, it was a success story, full of
emotion, and we succeeded in conquering the mountain peak.
AT THE HEART OF THE W ATCH IS THE PATENTED CONSTANT-FORCE
TOURBILLON. W HAT IS SO UNUSUAL ABOUT THIS COMPLICATION?
Mojon: It’s obvious at first glance. The constant-force mechanism makes the seconds hand
jump once a second. In quiet surroundings, these second jumps are audible. Unlike
conventional mechanical wristwatches, the constant-force mechanism prevents the wheel
train from exerting a direct influence on the balance and spring. All the irregularities
(fluctuations in the torque of the mainspring) due to the spring barrel or train are therefore
eliminated. The working principle is simple: a constant-force spring is fitted between the
escapement and the balance and spring. This constant-force spring is pre-tensioned after
each second, and then transfers this stored energy to the balance and spring. This periodic
release of energy ensures that the amplitude of the balance and spring remains constant and
produces a precise and constant watch rate.
YOU ARE A DEVELOPER SPECIALIZING IN COMPLICATIONS. THE
PORTUGUESE SIDÉRALE SCAFUSIA COMBINES SOLAR AND SIDEREAL TIME.
COULD THIS EVER BE SURPASSED?
Mojon: There is always a higher peak waiting to be conquered. Watch designers and
watchmakers are always good for a surprise, so let’s wait and see.
I E NJOY THE TA S K OF E XP LA INING COMP LE X P HE NOME NON IN OUR UNIV E RS E TO THE GE NE RA L P UB LIC
—Professor Ben Moore
PROFESSOR BEN MOORE
Came to the University of Zurich in 2002 to set up the cosmology and astrophysics research
group. Specializes among other things in the origin, development and structure of the
universe, dark materials and energy, and the formation of planetary systems. He advises the
Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia team on all astronomy-related issues.
PROFESSOR MOORE, YOU PROBABLY AREN’T APPROACHED BY A W ATCH
MANUFACTURER EVERY DAY? W HAT MADE YOU TO AGREE TO W ORK W ITH
IW C?
Moore: I’m often asked, “What good is your research in astrophysics and cosmology?” I
—Professor Ben Moore, Director of the Institute
for Theoretical Physics at the University of
Zurich
usually answer that the value of pure research cannot be understated in terms of the longerterm benefits to mankind. Entire economies flourish through discoveries made from investing
in fundamental research. But I also find it fascinating to be able to assist a very traditional and
renowned Swiss company with a more immediate product using some of the skills that we
have in our profession. I also enjoy new challenges and it has been very stimulating working
with the IWC design and engineering team.
W HAT IS IT SPECIFICALLY ABOUT THIS W ATCH THAT BEARS YOUR
SIGNATURE?
Moore: I enjoy the task of explaining complex phenomenon in our universe to the general
public, to convey how vast and beautiful the universe is and to show how insignificant we are
in the grand scheme of things. This IWC watch and its complex sidereal mechanism and
accurate star charts allow the wearer to appreciate and understand their place in our galaxy –
an extraordinary accomplishment for a mechanical device that you can wear on your wrist. I
am happy to have played a small role in its design and construction, and in particular of the
customized star charts.
EACH W ATCH FEATURES A STAR CHART SPECIFIED BY THE CUSTOMER,
W HICH IS BASED ON HIS LOCATION AND IS THEREFORE UNIQUE. W HAT
LOCATION W OULD YOU CHOOSE AND W HY?
Moore: During my career as an astrophysicist I have worked in many countries and I have
visited many cities throughout the world, but I consider Zurich as my home and I can’t
imagine living anywhere else. I would therefore choose 46°32′51″N 7°58′45″E, the location of
the Sphinx scientific station and astronomical observatory on the Jungfraujoch mountain. It’s
a very special and inspiring location with spectacular panoramic views across the Alps and
glaciers.
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2 COMMENTS
FANDEJO
1 w eek, 6 days ago
Firstly, the new IWC website combines perfectly with the style
of the brand´s DNA, its approach for simple and elegant
pieces.
The Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia is the coronation of the
IWC expertise in making complicated watches. The model
explores new frontiers of timekeeping.Congratulations!
CONT ACT IWC
Qu e sti o n s a n swe re d
VISIT T HE F ORUMS
JOHN HUTCHINSON
1 w eek, 5 days ago
Ta l k wi th e n th u si a sts
One of the Man Made Wonders of the World. An Exquiste
piece, which matches the beauty and elegance of days gone
by and the "time is of the essence" living of today.
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