IWC Schaffhausen — the only Swiss watch brand founded by an American — has launched a special timepiece that pays tribute to brand originator Florentine Ariosto Jones and his most beautiful vintage movement, the Jones 2N Pattern Caliber. The IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Hand-Wound Edition “D.H. Craig U.S.A.” takes its name from the inscription on that classical pocketwatch movement and the historical figure it represents.
So who was “D.H. Craig” and what was his connection to Jones, the precocious Boston watchmaker who came to Schaffhausen to establish the International Watch Company, in 1868, at age of 27? IWC North American brand president Edouard d’Arbaumont tells us that research into the origin of the inscribed name revealed that the initials were those of Daniel Hastings Craig (1811 – 1895), Jones’s uncle and the brother of his mother, Lavinia. A successful businessman whose pioneering international news company in New York was the forerunner of today’s Associated Press, Craig was likely an important financier of his nephew’s fledgling watch company, which would explain why “D.H. Craig New York” appeared as an inscription on Jones’s most high-quality caliber, the Jones 2N Pattern.
The IWC Portugieser collection — one of the brand’s most iconic, dating to 1939 and named for the Portuguese dealers for whom its high-precision calibers were specially designed — was a natural choice to host this special edition, limited to 27 pieces (the number represents Jones’s 27 years of age when he founded IWC) and available exclusively at IWC boutiques and authorized retailers in the United States. Coinciding with the launch of the exclusive timepiece, IWC will pay additional homage to its American roots by working with the organization Save America’s Clocks (SAC) to restore a historic street clock in New York produced by the E. Howard Watch & Clock Company, for whom F.A. Jones worked during his tenure as a watchmaker in Boston. In addition, IWC boutiques in New York and Los Angeles will both display small historical exhibitions featuring important historical pocketwatches with original Jones calibers, which d’Arbaumont hopes will serve to educate more consumers about Jones’s impact as a watchmaker and IWC’s longstanding connection to the United States. “We feel that our brand, while still very popular in the U.S., still has a lot of potential that can be maximized,” d’Arbaumont told WatchTime. “The idea was to do something special for the U.S. market that communicated our beautiful history and our American roots.”
The IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Hand-Wound Edition “D.H. Craig U.S.A.” features a rose-gold case and a silver-plated dial with an aperture for the one-minute tourbillon at 9 o’clock, a small-seconds subdial at 6 o’clock, and a “D.H. Craig” signature at 3 o’clock. The manual-wind movement, Caliber 98900, is made in-house and has a frequency of 28,800 vph. Like all tourbillon (and minute repeater) movements in IWC Portugieser watches, it traces its lineage to the original Caliber 98, which was designed in the 1930s for the very first Portugieser pocketwatches and has been in continuous development ever since. “IWC has a long history of manufacturing beautiful, complicated watches, so we wanted to focus on the Portugieser model and also to showcase one of our most beautiful movements with the tourbillon complication,” d’Arbaumont said, also noting that this is the last IWC timepiece in which this particular movement will be used.
Each of the lucky 27 purchasers of this watch also receives a numbered leather passport holder by Italian luxury shoemaker Santoni, who also provides the watch’s black alligator leather strap, as well as a copy of the book “F.A. Jones – His Life, Legacy, and Watches,” which includes contributions from IWC’s museum director David Seyffer, the man largely responsible for unearthing the identity of D.H. Craig, the inspiration for this highly exclusive timepiece. Finally, the watch’s retail price —$57,000 for a tourbillon watch, in a rose gold case, in an extremely limited edition — is likely to make many a collector take notice.