For over 150 years, IWC has been conquering new horizons in the realm of fine watch-making, without frontiers. Meet their Watches and Wonders 2020 achievement – the new groundbreaking Portugieser collection.
1936. Bodies of water. These were significant in the bright beginnings of IWC’s long-celebrated Portugieser timepieces. The name that calls Schaffhausen home has been on an unstoppable quest to conquer new horizons in the universe of superb watchmaking since it began. Nautical instruments that drew energy and inspiration from the River Rhine – these have always distinguished IWCs beloved Portugieser collections. A spirit of innovation manifested in the creation of ingenious yet needful movements – these also seal the Portugieser’s credibility as a horological force to be reckoned with.
Now, who better than David Seyffer, curator for the IWC Museum, to animate the distinguished qualities of the brand, collection, and the genius behind them? Nothing like looking back to understand the present and look forward to the future, is Seyffer’s philosophy. He describes IWC succinctly in three words, “Quality, precision and innovation.” Add to that, consistency to long-standing core values. These are what the success of IWC watches rest on. Seyffer adds, “If you look back to the first pocket watches made in Schaffhausen in the early 1870s to the 2020 new collection, you will always find these core values inside our watches. There have been varieties of designs in the over 150-year history of our brand, but the main core values have always remained.”
Getting to know the Portugieser
Its rich and unique history is the stuff of watch legends.
“When the Portugieser watch was created following a demand from Portuguese wholesalers for it in the late 1930s, the size of the watches was deemed too big. The preference then was for small timepieces, with a diameter of 33 to 35 mm. That aside, against all odds, IWC also made the bold move of using pocket (watch) movements for the Portugieser watch, as they were much more accurate than the wristwatch movements of the time. The style was also very purist; what contemporary times would call timeless. The watch was perhaps too simple for those decades. That’s why only a few customers bought these watches.
“We know that only 690 watches of the first generation of Portugieser were produced between 1939 and 1981 – a very limited edition indeed. But the design and the high quality of the movements of the pocket watches inside made them very special. Thus, the watch became a sought-after pinnacle collector’s item for watch lovers. When IWC relaunched the watch in 1993, on the occasion of its 125th anniversary, the watch with the characteristic design became very popular. It set the trend for watches over 40 mm in diameter. Since that year, the Portugieser family was further bolstered.
“IWC has remained true to the design characteristics, so that the watch has retained its character and has become very recognisable in the watch world. In the following years, IWC integrated many new and technically sophisticated complications into the watch (for example, the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar with the double moon in 2003), while retaining its characteristics. Whether in 1939, 1993 or 2020, a Portugieser remains a Portugieser; this is certainly the main reason for its esteem and desirability.”
To appreciate the originality of the Portugieser, is to recognise the genius of Kurt Klaus, whom Seyffer calls intelligent, open-minded and humble.
“Mr. Klaus never puts his own person in the spotlight. Being a constructor working passionately and often alone, he always credited the team when it came to new constructions. It is widely acknowledged that the perpetual calendar he invented and which was first presented in 1985 (no other complication has quite so eloquently encapsulated the values of IWC), was a kind of revolution in the world of mechanical watches. But he acknowledges that he is still a watch maker at heart, who always looks at a project through the eyes of a watch maker. So, as he sowed the seeds with the original perpetual calendar, the double moon of the perpetual calendar, which was first presented in 2003 in a Portuguese language, followed this approach. IWC wanted to present a moon phase not only for customers in the northern hemisphere, but also for those in the southern hemisphere. As a watchmaker, Klaus realised a simple but intelligent construction and the result was the first double moon.”
A Landmark Collection
Seyffer calls the veritable nature of the new 2020 Portugieser collection, made up of the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42, Portugieser Chronograph with in-house calibre and see-through back, the Portugieser Yacht Club Moon and Tide Chronograph, and the Portugieser Automatic 40, “simply groundbreaking! It is a new landmark in the history of innovation at IWC”, a triumph of the human spirit.
Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42
For the first time, the famous IWC calendar complication is integrated in an IWC-manufactured movement from the 82000-calibre family. The timepiece, which has a diameter of 42 mm, displays the calendar information on three sub dials. The movement can be admired through the sapphire glass back.
The perpetual calendar’s mechanical programme self-sufficiently recognises the different lengths of the months and adds an extra day at the end of February every four years. All the displays are perfectly synchronised and can be adjusted simply via the crown. In this version of the calendar, the displays for the date, month and day of the week are distributed over three sub dials at 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock. The perpetual moon phase display was integrated into the month display and departs from the actual orbit of the moon by only one day after 577.5 years. An indicator in the weekday display counts the years until the next leap year. Talk about independent precision.
It is available in stainless steel case, silver-plated dial, gold-plated hands and appliques, with black alligator leather strap by Santoni; and in 18-carat 5N gold case, silver-plated dial, gold-plated hands, 18-carat gold appliques, with brown alligator leather strap by Santoni.
The classic Portugieser Perpetual Calendar is also featured with a chunkier 44-millimetre diameter that displays the calendar information on four sub dials. In addition to the displays for the date, day, month and moon phase, it features a four-digit year display, small seconds and a power reserve display.
This is available in 18-carat 5N gold case, blue dial, gold-plated hands, 18-carat gold appliques, with blue alligator leather strap by Santoni and in 18-carat Armor Gold case, blue dial, gold-plated hands, 18-carat gold appliques, with blue alligator leather strap by Santoni.
Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide Chronograph
Never-before-seen nautical functions and smart case proportions, together with high durability and water-resistance make this nautical rough and tumble sports watch the perfect companion on deck and on terra firma. The exciting news is also that Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide Chronograph is the first model to feature IWC’s newly developed tide indication.
Two striking features in the new models are the filigree bezel and casing ring. Together, they lend the case, with its 44mm diameter, particularly refined proportions – a standard achievement for all IWC timepieces in this genre.
The Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide Chronograph (Ref. 344001) is the first watch from IWC to sport the newly developed tide indication. A sub dial at 6 o’clock indicates the expected times for the next high and low tide. The double moon phase display at 12 o’clock has been augmented to show spring and neap tides, which provide information about the strength of the current tides.
The module for the double moon phase display and the tide display is driven by the IWC-manufactured 82835 calibre. This robust automatic movement features a Pellaton winding fitted with ceramic components and offers a power reserve of 60 hours. It can be viewed through the sapphire glass back.
This nautical sports chronograph combines ageless beauty with optimal sturdiness and a water-resistance of 6 bar. It displays the stopped hours and minutes in a single totaliser at 12 o’clock. Thanks to its back function, the stopwatch hands can be returned to zero simply by pressing the reset button, after which a new timing sequence starts immediately. The automatic winding builds up a power reserve of 68 hours. The movement can also be appreciated through the transparent case back. And as Seyfeer says, “it’s definitely a watch I want to have with me on a deserted island or during a boat or ship wreck – its precise nature helps me to navigate from the deserted Island and the elegant look will be the perfect choice when I’m at dinner on the boat that saved me.”
It is available in 18-carat 5N gold case, blue dial, gold-plated hands, 18-carat gold appliques, with blue rubber strap with textile inlay; in stainless steel case, blue dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliques, with stainless steel bracelet; stainless steel case, silver-plated dial, blue hands and appliques, with stainless steel bracelet; stainless steel case, silver-plated dial, gold-plated hands and 18-carat 5N gold appliques, with a bracelet made of 18-carat 5N gold and stainless steel.
Portugieser Automatic 40
With this automatic model, the enduringly modern Portugieser design featuring the small seconds at 6 o’clock, returns to the collection in a compact 40 mm diameter. Ticking away inside the Portugieser Automatic 40 (Ref. 3583) is the IWC-manufactured 82200 calibre. The strong, high-quality automatic movement has a Pellaton winding system, with components made of virtually wear-free ceramic, which builds up a power reserve of 60 hours. A sapphire glass back provides an unimpeded view of the decorated movement. A newly developed butterfly Y folding clasp on the stainless steel models makes them particularly ergonomical and comfy on the wrist.
The classic Portugieser Automatic is also featured in a 42 mm case. The small seconds and the power reserve displays are located directly opposite each other at 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock. Thanks to its slightly larger dimensions, the movement has room for two barrels that build up a power reserve of seven days. In this model too, the lauded movement is visible through a transparent sapphire glass back.
It is available in stainless steel case, silver-plated dial, gold-plated hands and appliques, with black alligator leather strap; in stainless steel case, silver-plated dial, blue hands and appliques, with blue alligator leather strap; stainless steel case, blue dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliques, with black alligator leather strap; stainless steel case, burgundy dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliques, with black alligator leather strap; 18-carat 5N gold case, silver-plated dial, gold-plated hands, 18-carat gold appliques, with brown alligator leather strap by Santoni; 18-carat 5N gold case, blue dial, gold-plated hands, 18-carat gold appliques, with blue alligator leather strap by Santoni.
An open, clear and functionally designed dial that has two recessed totalisers at 6 o’clock and 12 o’clock, appliqued Arabic numerals and slim feuille hands – these are the design cues that have made the Portugieser Chronograph (Ref. 3716) one of IWC’s most popular models. But equally responsible for giving the watch its unique character is the ange, which features a printed quarter-second scale. It not only allows precise reading of stop times but also gives this timeless Portugieser the qualities of a nautical instrument. The IWC-manufactured 69355 calibre is a rugged and precise chronograph movement with a classic column-wheel design. The watch’s inner workings can be spied through the transparent sapphire glass back. Stop times are clearly indicated on the sub dial at 12 o’clock.
Available in stainless steel case, green dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliques, with black alligator leather strap; stainless steel case, burgundy dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliques, with black alligator leather strap; also in 18-carat 5N gold case, blue dial, gold-plated hands, and 18-carat gold appliques, with blue alligator leather strap.
Images courtesy of IWC, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.