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June 26, 2024

Explore the roots of modern design with the IWC Portugieser watch collection

The IWC Portugieser watch and the Gustavo Capanema Palace were conceived thousands of miles apart and created to serve different needs, but in their clean lines, functional details, and timeless beauty they share the same essential elements that define the work of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. The IWC Portugieser was developed in the 1930s by famed Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, a brand known for creating some of today’s most coveted luxury timepieces.

The Gustavo Capanema Palace, the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Health in central Rio de Janeiro, was conceived in 1935 as the first modernist building in Brazil and the largest modernist project of its era. Niemeyer’s work on this landmark would help to establish him as one of the 20th century’s most influential architects. The Portugieser, meanwhile, would go on to become one of the world’s most iconic and collectible Swiss wristwatches and a pillar of IWC’s present-day collection. Like Niemeyer’s celebrated works, the IWC Portugieser remains remarkably fresh more than 80 years after its creation, and its contrast of curved forms and clean lines is as emotionally resonant today as it was in the 1930s.

Following the launch of the 2024 IWC Portugieser watch collection, a new IWC campaign makes a strong visual connection to Neimeyer’s signature style with the help of one of the architect’s most famous creations. Shot on location at the Oscar Niemeyer International Cultural Centre in Avilés, Spain, which Niemeyer designed in 2008 at the age of 101, the campaign pairs the institution’s retrofuturistic concrete and glass structures with the IWC Portugieser’s clean, modern lines. Consisting of a domed auditorium and a UFO-like observatory tower wrapped by a circular staircase, the graceful curves and smooth surfaces of this architectural landmark make an ideal complement to the elegantly composed shapes and textures of the IWC Portugieser’s dial.

The International Watch Company, better known as IWC, was founded in the Swiss town of Schaffhausen by American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones in 1868. The company would soon earn a reputation for its innovative and highly accurate pocket watches, including the first examples to feature digital displays. By the 1930s, however, (and thanks in no small part to the groundbreaking work of modernist visionaries like Niemeyer) tastes and technologies were changing, and demand was growing for a more modern approach to timepieces. When IWC was commissioned by a pair of Portuguese businessmen to create something with the accuracy and legibility of a marine chronometer (a highly-accurate clock or pocket watch used for navigation at sea) and the modern style of a wristwatch, the IWC Portugieser was born.

IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Automatic 42, IWC.com

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