Klaus, Kurt

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Kurt Klaus is a contemporary watchmaker and engineer associated with IWC.

Biography

Kurt Klaus was born in Eastern Switzerland, near Schaffhausen, on October 26, 1934. He studied watchmaking in the Western part but returned to Schaffhausen to work for legendary watchmaker Albert Pellaton, starting there in January 1957. Klaus developed movement prototypes for Pellaton and worked closely with him throughout his remaining years at IWC.

In the 1980s, Klaus determined that the best way for mechanical watches to regain prominence was through technical development. He set about developing an innovative perpetual calendar module that would set IWC apart. Released at the Basel Fair in 1985, the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar watch is seen today as a turning point for the industry and for IWC in particular. Klaus' perpetual calendar module, incorporated into IWC Cal. 79261, featured an innovative design in which all aspects were operated using the crown rather than specialized pushers on the case.

Klaus next engineered a grand complication watch using his perpetual calendar. Released in 1990, the IWC Grande Complication 3770 would be produced in limited numbers for decades. A 2003 re-launch, as the IWC Portugieser Grande Complication, remains in production and still features Klaus 1990 Cal. 79091. Klaus was also involved in the development of the extremely-complicated 1993 Il Destriero Scafusia grand complication. Another important development under Klaus was Richard Habring's addition of a rattrapante hand to the Da Vinci in 1995's Cal. 79251.

The next great work by Klaus was the restart of manufacture movement design and construction. He lead the development of the Cal. 5000 family of movements, which brought back the Pellaton winding system along with a double barrel mainspring design giving the IWC Portugieser 2000 a 7-day power reserve.

Klaus would remain at IWC until the present time. In the 1980s and 1990s he worked with both Giulio Papi and Richard Habring at the company. Despite retiring at age 65, he continues to work with the company, advising at their watchmaking school, serving as a brand ambassador, and remaining involved in some engineering projects.

In 2011, Klaus' history was commemorated in a special edition of the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar chronograph that he helped develop.

References

  • "Q&A with Kurt Klaus", QP Magazine, January 2011
  • "IWC Da Vinci Reinvention", QP Magazine, Issue 27, 2007