A PARTICLE PHYCISIST and the CEO of a luxury Swiss watch brand walk into a dimly lit room in Geneva and discuss the concept of time. It sounds like the set up for a punchline, but it was actually the setting of an intriguing IWC Schaffhausen event at Watches & Wonders 2024, which saw Professor Brian Cox – the English physicist and musician who is a professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester and The Royal Society Professor for Public Engagement in Science (not the actor) – explore time, space, relativity and more importantly, IWC’s new Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44.

We know what you’re thinking: what do a physicist and a watchmaker have in common? Well, physics is the study of matter and its motion and behaviour through space and (cue drum roll) time. Now that’s an area where a watchmaker carries some expertise. Although, mastery of time isn’t quite as important in haute horology as it once was.

A consequence of the ubiquity of time-telling smartphones, the ability of a watch to tell and measure time has become less important to buyers. Instead, exterior design and aesthetics have become a watch’s primary function, while the necessity of traditional, readable dials with mechanical movements has dwindled in value. But as Cox notes, we shouldn’t think of it this way. “There’s such a big difference between a mechanical object measuring the passing of time and your phone doing this,” he said, during a keynote address in Geneva with IWC CEO Chris Grainger-Herr and CDO Christian Knoop, delivered under a large-scale replica of the moon.

For Cox, watches are much more than their aesthetic function. Due to the impact of spacial relativity on time dilation, watches represent one of the deep mysteries of the universe, according to Cox. “At the most fundamental level, we do not know what they are actually doing,” he said. “There is always a deep mystery when you look at your watch – a mystery that is intertwined with space and time and the structure of the universe itself.”

It is fitting that Cox and his favourite watchmaking house share an infatuation with time. IWC see the value in traditional mechanical movements and are heading in the opposite direction of the turning tide, revealing a new addition to their ever-popular Perpetual Calendar line at Watches & Wonders, the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44.


The new watch not only features a standard 12-hour dial, but four sub dials displaying calendrical details. The sub dials measure hours, days, months, and even moon phases. And they’re all incredibly precise, requiring only one-day adjustment every 577.5 years – a quality we’re certain Cox appreciates.

The standard 44.2mm case of the IWC Perpetual Calendar series has been revamped with a slimer case ring. The new case is also set in 18-carat gold and is fitted to a dark brown alligator leather strap. Front and back double box-glass sapphire crystals with 15 layers of transparent lacquer allow for exceptional visual depth and uninterrupted viewing of those aforementioned sub dials. IWC’s 52610 Calibre powers the watch, with an exceptional seven day power reserve.

Four versions of the timepiece were revealed at Watches & Wonders. Two come in 18-carat white gold with what IWC calls ‘dune’ and ‘horizon blue’ dials. The other models are set in IWC’s proprietary 18-carat Armour Gold, with silver moon and obsidian dials. Throughout IWC’s keynote, Cox was rocking the obsidian version, a clear favourite of his. Personally, we can’t look past horizon blue. Take your pick below.



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