Editor’s Note: This preview of the new IWC Schaffhausen Laureus Blue Ceramic Special Edition is a GET TO THE POINT (GTTP) review with all the info you want / need to know QUICK. Let’s get to the point. For our standard detailed hands-on reviews, please head to our dedicated reviews section here.
What is it: The new IWC Schaffhausen Laureus Sport for Good Blue Ceramic ref. IW328101. It is fairly reminiscent of the 2018 IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII ref. IW324703.
Why: No other than Nelson Mandela was the Founding Patron of Laureus Sport for Good, and IWC has been supporting this organisation for a long time, this being the 15th special edition.
When released: 02 September 2021
Where: Global release – IWC boutiques, authorised retail partners or online at IWC.com, retailing for 9’950 AUD.
Best foot forward & worst dressed
The red-tip of the second’s hand shining against the striking blue and pristine white of the dial is my favourite design feature.
In regards to the flaws, that date window should probably have been left out; in correlation to the dial, it just doesn’t do justice to an otherwise nice timepiece.
There is one suggestion I would like to humbly offer: the watch thanks to the nice shade of blue and the modern ceramic material is quite youthful; including a stereotypical IWC face to the dial somehow doesn’t feel too right. In my opinion, the brand should have used some inspiration from the painting on the case-back. The original artwork has vibrant colours that could have been used in the numerals or the text on the dial to add a bit more relevancy to the Laureus Sport for Good connection and to bring an air of youth. If not that, at least the caseback should have been the same colours as the drawing instead of being stripped of that life.
How does it do
IWC uses blue colour for its dials very often. Even with these special editions, two versions come to mind: the 2018 Mark XVIII and the Da Vinci Chronograph Edition ref. IW393402
But this is the first time IWC has used a blue ceramic case in its pilot’s watches, and I am all for it. The aspect which pleases me even more is that the chosen colour is not arbitrary; it is the trademark Laureus blue, that adds an extra layer of attention to detail with this collaboration.
Flip the watch and the wearer can marvel at the special engraving on the titanium case back: winning design entitled “Vivir en Armonía” (Living in Peace) from the drawing competition that IWC organises every year and was created by 12-year-old Melissa Mejía Castilla from Colombia.
Designed to mimic a cockpit instrument, IWC Schaffhausen’s pilot’s watches have a clear, distinct aesthetic to them. Clear by day and luminescent by night, these are the perfect companion for anyone looking to share time with reliability.
Practical yet handsome, these ultra-legible timepieces have become the defining cornerstone of simplistic wrist architecture.
The new IWC Schaffhausen Laureus Blue Ceramic Special Edition ref. IW328101 features the IWC-manufactured 32111 calibre movement. These are not the ‘true’ IWC in-house movements like the 50000 series. IWC movements like these follow an ETA architecture but introduce components such as escape wheel and pallet lever from silicon and increased power reserves.
The automatic winding calibre 32111 comprises 164 components and 21 jewels, beats at the standard frequency of 4Hz, provides a very impressive 5-day (120-hours) power reserve, features decent decorations such as perlage and Côtes de Genève, and is caged by a soft iron inner core that effectively shields the movement from the effects of magnetic fields.
Thanks to the impressive power reserve and under the radar stealth looks, I reckon for anyone who wants a perfect 2-watch blue dialled collection, the new IWC Schaffhausen Laureus Blue Ceramic Special Edition works as a great daily wearer and can be paired very nicely with the Tudor Black Bay 58 Navy Blue for use over the weekend. Just a suggestion.
Coming back to the movement, the 5-day power reserve is courtesy an improved barrel construction that allows the mainspring to hold this increased reserve.
The calibre 32111 is encased inside a 41mm diameter and 11.4mm thick ceramic case with a titanium case-back that features a screw-in crown and decent 100m water-resistance. The watch comes on a blue rubber strap with textile inlay, and features a welcome 20mm lug interhorn spacing.
That’s All Folks!
The virgin blue ceramic case is obviously the highlight here. This dark blue hue of the ceramic has been achieved by mixing powdered zirconium oxide with other metallic oxides. This mixture is then shaped and sintered in a furnace.
IWC Schaffhausen is not be the only brand using blue ceramic for cases. Other Swiss brands like Omega and Hublot have been experimenting with this for a while. Moving beyond the colour, the simple styling is very reminiscent of Swatch watches. And just looking at the dial, Hamilton’s field watches come to mind. So why should you be interested in these?
Think about it. Compared to some of the previous iterations, this is an improvement in a number of ways. I am not trying to dish any of the previous versions, but simply saying that the brand is evolving, and that’s a good thing. Take for instance the IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport for Good Foundation” launched on the occasion of the 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards. It was the 12th special edition and had very similar vibes. Visually the major difference is that that time around, it was a blue dial encased inside a black ceramic case. The ref IW324703 was available as a larger run of 1500 pieces, which kind of negates the whole point of a LE run. This time around, it’s only 750. That’s good.
The 2018 version had the 35111-calibre that was again protected against magnetic fields by a soft-iron inner case. But it provided only a 42-hour power reserve compared to the massive 5-day reserve of the last version. I would chalk this as a major win too.
The water-resistance has also been improved from 60m to 100m.
In terms of the dial, both even feature the same red-tipped second’s hand. Though the one aspect that the 2018 version was better executed was the inclusion of a black date wheel with white lettering to be more in sync with the case and dial.
The way I see it, IWC Schaffhausen Laureus Sport for Good timepieces are evolving, tuning in to the demands of the ever-changing watch community needs. And while for some the latest version may not be perfect, it’s still pretty impressive.
For those who understand and appreciate the understated simplistic elegance and built quality of an IWC Schaffhausen timepiece, there is really no need to explain why. But for those who are on the fence, the new IWC Schaffhausen Laureus Sport for Good Blue Ceramic ref. IW328101 is noteworthy because it’s a great package.
Anyone who wants an exceptional value deal for 9’950 AUD gets: most-wrist-sizes-friendly and daily wearable 41 x 11.4mm dimensions; 100m water resistance for carefree usage; a calibre with a super impressive 5-day power reserve; central hacking seconds; superb legibility; a 6-year extension to the standard 2-year international limited warranty; exclusivity of only 750-pieces; a hard and scratch-resistant blue ceramic case with a specially decorated case-back cover; association with a foundation as praiseworthy as the Laureus Sport for Good; and a watch par excellence from a legendary brand.
To find out more about the new IWC Schaffhausen Laureus Blue Ceramic Special Edition and other IWC watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are courtesy ©IWC Schaffhausen.