Review: The IWC Pellaton Automatic Winding System 5:1 Model

by Michael Sandler


Click to enlarge
Click image to enlarge

OPENING COMMENTS

I first learned of the existence of this little toy when I was browsing through the IWC website a couple of months ago. Then, about two weeks ago, I visited the site again, and there was a link to the toy right on the main page, at which point and I decided that the "taunting" had to stop...so I ordered one. Approximately 10 days after I ordered it, the model arrived

In the five days I've had this little model on my desk, more people have commented in it than have ever commented on any of my watches. Almost everyone who sees it makes a comment like "Whoa, cool!" or "Where can I get one?". As a result, I though I'd do a short, partially tongue-in-cheek review. I'll leave it up to you to determine which comments are serious and which aren't.


A LITTLE ABOUT THE MECHANISM (from the IWC Website)

The automatic winding system pictured was developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s by then technical director Albert Pellaton. The way it functions differs fundamentally from other designs. The rotor as the most freely moving part is subject to the greatest stresses and strains created by the movements of the arm and is mounted on a sprung plate - an ingenious form of shock resistance. Contrary to the design of other watches, the movements of the rotor are not transmitted to a wheel train via a gear system but simply move a cam, which is similar in appearance to the heart piece of a cam. Running on the heart are the ruby rollers at the two ends of the fork in a lever system, which eliminates idle running and transmits the kinetic energy to a ratchet wheel with helical teeth, and from there to the winding wheels and barrel. In the diagrams below, the small and great click can be seen, which mesh with the helical teeth of the automatic wheel and act as winding devices and back stops. In the diagram on the left, based on the position of the heart relative to the ruby runners, the small click is responsible for winding the movement. In the diagram on the right, this function is handled by the great click.

Small click does the winding
Small Click
Click image to enlarge
Great click does the winding
Great Click
Click image to enlarge

THE REVIEW

Case

Upon its arrival, an examination of the case showed numerous fine scratches and scuffs. Most are not noticeable under normal lighting conditions, but a few do stand out. I'm guessing that this is a job that would exceed the capabilities of even Judge Crater's toughest patch. The top surface of the acrylic cover is clear, while the four side surfaces are lightly frosted.

Dimensions of the model (with top cover on) are as follows: Length (front to back): 87.5 mm; Width (side to side): 138.0 mm; Height 43.5 mm including base.

The base is finished with a coat of white gloss paint. It's relatively evenly applied, and there only a few places where minor scratches (hairline) can be viewed. Many more imperfections which are not visible to the naked eye become visible under magnification.

To the naked eye, the printing is clear and well formed. As you can see by the picture below, however, magnification reveals something entirely different.

Printing on Base

The bottom of the base is covered with a lovely piece of felt.

Movement

For those of you who don't like plastic parts in your watch movements, this model is not for you. The rotor, along with the two rollers that ride along the cam, are plastic. There is also a thin plastic disc covering the winding wheel. The remainder of the model is metal, although I am unsure of the type. I would guess that it is some sort of plated brass or similar material.

Jeweled RollerPlastic (Acrylic) Rotor

The one thing that bothers me about the model is the size of the rotor. Unless I'm miscalculating, the rotor itself is not consistent with the size of the remainder of the model, which is indicated to be a 5:1 scale as compared to the real movement. If the entire model was truly 5:1, then the rotor should be roughly 180 to 190 millimeters in diameter. The rotor in the model is only 78 millimeters in diameter. Apparently IWC shrunk the rotor in the model to keep the entire contraption to a more manageable size.

Rotor movement does actually wind the wheel on the model. Each full revolution of the rotor advances the wheel a total of 8 teeth. Four of the teeth are advanced by the major click, and four more are advanced by the minor click.

Major and Minor Click

Overall, movement finishing is quite rough (by IWC's standards anyway). This is the sort of finish I'd expect on an Invicta or Poljot model. The major and minor clicks show considerable machining marks, and the other movement parts show a cursory surface polish. There is no Geneva striping, anglage, perlage, colimaconnage, and any other "-age" for that matter.

Plate Edges

As you can see from the image below, a close look at the rotor printing indicates considerable irregularity. This is not really noticeable to the naked eye, however.

Printing on Winding Rotor

Overall Assessment

This is a very cool toy, and well worth the money. Everyone who sees it wants to play with it. If I had the choice to make over again, I'd buy it in a heartbeat.

THE SPECIFICATIONS

Case Composition: Plastic - Type undetermined
Cover Composition: Plastic - Acrylic
Case Size: L: 87.5 mm W: 138.0 mm H: 43.5 mm including base
Thickness of Base: 2.3 millimeters
Movement Height: 11.7 millimeters
Parts: Approximately 50 (to be verified upon disassembly)

THE IMAGES

Click on the thumbnail to load the full-size image.

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Credits:
Data on the Pellaton Winding System from the IWC website at http://www.iwc.ch.

Copyright © 2000, Michael Sandler
All Rights Reserved

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