7 Brand-New IWC Portugieser Watches For 2020
by Martin Green
The two Portuguese gentlemen who ordered wristwatches with the precision of a marine chronometer in the late 1930s could have probably never imaged the impact their request would have on the history of IWC.
Using its Caliber 74 hunter pocket watch movement, the brand was able to meet to requirements of the gentlemen and in doing so created a watch of gigantic proportions, bucking the then-current fashion.
The Portugieser played a vital role half a century later as it was one of the first models allowing the brand to take advantage of the renaissance of mechanical watchmaking following the end of the quartz crisis. A decade later, it was equally well-positioned when larger watches became trendy.
Today, the Portugieser has become not only a pillar for IWC, but a staple for the whole industry. Throughout the years, the brand has carefully extended its collection, adding complications and new variations, yet always under careful consideration of its original “DNA.”
This is also true in 2020 as IWC expands the Portugieser collection with many new and, I have to say exciting, models.
New Portugieser Chronographs
When people think of the Portugieser, their minds often instantly go to the chronograph model. While this has always been one of the most popular models, the first Portugiesers were, of course, time-only watches.
That aside, the chronograph has always been an enjoyable watch to wear. It looks significantly large on the wrist, yet this is, in part, a visual trick achieved through the use of a small bezel. The watch’s diameter is only 41 mm, which allows many people to wear it with great comfort.
The three new models of the Portugieser Chronograph that IWC is launching all stand out in their exceptional colored dials (as opposed to the blue and silver dials revealed earlier in 2020). The most classic of the three, Reference IW371614, is a boutique special edition that combines a deep blue dial with a red gold case. A stunning combination and one that I feel is in line with the design of the watch.
The other two, both in stainless steel, feature a burgundy and a green dial. This is one of those instances where I profoundly hate the COVID-19 situation, not only for the pain and sorrow it is causing around the world but also because we cannot, as we usually would, admire these watches in the metal during Watches & Wonders 2020 in Geneva.
From a traditional point of view, I don’t feel that these colorful dials go very well with the traditional Portugieser, but as I studied the images and let them sink in, I found that it is not the dials that I have trouble with but the straps. The black alligator offers quite a harsh contrast with the dials.
For the one with the burgundy dial, I think that it might be appropriate, yet I feel that burgundy stitching would have made it an even better creation. For the green-dial version, which I expect to look similar to the Reference 5463 Tourbillon Hand-Wound, I think I would personally have opted for a brown strap, perhaps even made of calfskin nubuck.
For the majority of its career, the Portugieser Chronograph has been powered by a modified ETA Valjoux 7750. I have always been a fan of this movement as it is rugged and dependable. It is also a movement that can be found in watches that retail for around €1,000. And sourcing it forces IWC to buy movements outside of its parent Richemont group.
Being a manufacture, it is logical that IWC offers its in-house calibers in as many of the models within the collection as possible. All three new Portugieser Chronographs are equipped with manufacture Caliber 69355 featuring a classic column wheel chronograph rather than the cam system favored by the ETA Valjoux 7750-based movement.
Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Chronograph
Case: 41 x 13.1 mm, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 69355, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 46-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; chronograph
Price: $7,850 in stainless steel; $16,500 in red gold
High tide for the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph
A leading Dutch newspaper once had the slogan, “If you have never changed your opinion, you have never learned anything.”
I feel that this also applies, in a slightly different way, to watches and myself. When the Portugieser Yacht Club was introduced in 2010, I wasn’t overly excited about it. Granted, it seemed like a clever addition, bringing a slightly more sportive sibling into the Portugieser family, but I felt like I never could embrace the model because of a single detail: the date window at 3 o’clock.
For me, this put the whole design off balance. The new 2020 model sets this straight by integrating the date function into the running seconds subdial at 6 o’clock. It now looks like a whole new watch altogether and one much more in line with its classic sibling.
IWC is launching the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph in stainless steel with blue and silver dials as well as with what I expect to be a superb bracelet. Again, a pity that we cannot try these watches on in the metal just yet, but IWC has quite a reputation to uphold when it comes to bracelets.
Already in the 1980s the brand put itself on the map with bracelets for the Porsche Design watches that were not only very comfortable to wear but also could, in most cases, be sized with ease by the owners, something that only quite recently other brands have discovered.
The Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph that I am most excited about is the new two-tone version, combining stainless steel with red gold details. While not everybody’s taste, I have always been quite fond of this combination, and I think that IWC did a great job with the way that it executed this in this new watch.
IWC also brings a new complication to the Portugieser Yacht Club collection: a tide indicator. At first, this may seem like not a very useful complication – until you realize that nearly everybody who enjoys sports at the seaside, from surfers to fishermen and divers, benefit from (or even need!) this information for their safety. Yes there are other, cheaper, ways to obtain this information, but none offer the fun of the IWC.
At 12 o’clock is the moon phase indicator that we’ve already seen on the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar. As the moon has quite an effect on the tide, IWC has altered its display so that it shows spring and neap tides. In addition, we find an indicator at 6 o’clock that displays high and low tides.
IWC integrated these complications beautifully into the design, and although I must endure a date window at 3 o’clock, the brand has had the decency to make its background the same color as the dial.
Currently, the Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide is only available in 18-karat red gold, but that is not an uncommon strategy when launching a new complication. This gives people who are willing to spend the extra money for the gold case a period of exclusivity on the complication. I think that it is safe to say that within a year or so, a stainless steel version will be introduced.
Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph
Case: 44.6 x 14.4 mm, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: automatic Caliber 89361, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 68-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; flyback chronograph
Price: $13,000 in stainless steel; $20,000 in red gold
Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide
Case: 44.6 x 14.4 mm high, 5N red gold
Movement: Caliber 82835 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual moon phase for northern and southern hemispheres, display for spring and neap tide, tide indicator
Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42: getting complicated
Another model from the Portugieser family that has enjoyed great popularity is the perpetual calendar. Its oversized appearance and classic dial layout have always given it the character of a gentle giant – and quite a passionate following.
The new Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 might change that, at least a bit. This watch offers many of the same features of the previous Portugieser Perpetual Calendar in a smaller package with a new movement.
Caliber 82650’s perpetual calendar boasts instantaneous switching of all the displays at midnight and combines this with the Pellaton winding system and a hacking sweep second hand.
The watch is slightly larger than the numeral in its name indicates as its case measures 42.4 mm. Combined with a height of 13.8 mm, it is quite a substantial watch. This certainly provides enough to love for current owners of the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar to consider this model, yet at the same time offers a more accessible package for those who love the style but find the original a tad too much of a good thing.
The design of both perpetual calendars can also persuade future buyers one way or another. An important role is played by the moon phase complication of the previous iteration of the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar, which was prominently placed at the 12 o’clock position instead of 6 o’clock like it is here.
The new Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42’s moon phase is now much smaller and integrated into the month subdial. This results in a very classic, almost understated watch with a very stylish appearance.
While it does offer an IWC signature feature – being able to set all the perpetual calendar functions using just the crown – it lacks another one: the iconic year display. Instead, a small window in the day subdial indicates the current year in the leap-year cycle. It works just as well, but for me it loses some of its magic.
IWC offers the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 in both 18-karat red gold and stainless steel; both feature a silver dial. While the Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide’s gold case ensures exclusivity of the complication, with the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 the stainless steel version will probably see to it that this model is quickly embraced due to its favorable price point in relation to the gold version. This way the new model quickly solidifies its position within the Portugieser family.
There is also a third version that combines a blue dial with a red gold case, a stunning creation with a distinctly more modern appearance.
Lovers of the original Portugieser Perpetual Calendar also have something to look forward to as IWC is launching a version of this watch in Armor Gold, which is ordinary 18-karat red gold with an extraordinary hardness. As a result, it is less likely to scratch and should maintain its appearance over time.
Just like with the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42, IWC matched it with a blue dial, which gives it a distinct character. For the rest, little has changed as it still has its traditional layout, manufacture movement with Pellaton winding system, and generous seven-day power reserve.
Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42
Case: 42.4 x 13.8 mm, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: Caliber 82650 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar with date, day, month, leap year, and moon phase indicators
Price: $22,000 in stainless steel; $32,000 in red gold
Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Boutique Edition
Case: 44.2 x 14.9 mm, 18-karat 5N red Armor Gold
Movement: Caliber 52610 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 168-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; perpetual calendar with date, day, month, four-digit year and moon phase indicator; power reserve indicator
Portugieser Automatic 40: a case of purity
Throughout the lifespan of the Portugieser collection, the original layout as a time-only model with subsidiary seconds at 6 o’clock has been a regular feature. And here it is again in the form of the Portugieser Automatic 40.
As with the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42, this watch is also slightly larger than its name indicates. At 40.4 mm in diameter, this is the most modestly sized of all the new introductions, yet it packs quite a punch.
As it is nearly all dial, it looks more substantial than you might assume based on its specs, and IWC is launching it as an extensive collection of four models. This is an indication that the brand is expecting quite a bit from it – and rightfully so. It is one of those watches that always feels right on the wrist whether you are wearing a suit and tie or relaxing in jeans and a polo shirt.
By changing a few details, this watch’s appearance changes slightly again. This is especially clear in the stainless steel model, which IWC offers with pink gold or blue applied Arabic numerals and hands. The former gives the watch a more classic touch, the latter one a sportier one.
Wear the one with pink gold Arabic numerals on a brown strap, instead of the black alligator skin one, and it becomes even more reminiscent of the past, quite close to the full red gold version that IWC also launched. However, fit the one with blue Arabic numerals with a blue rubber strap, and it almost becomes a sports watch. The same can be also be said of the third stainless steel version, which features a deep blue dial with rhodium-plated hands and Arabic numerals.
The classic Portugieser Automatic with its 42 mm case, subsidiary seconds at 9 o’clock, and power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock also gets two more variations.
The first one is a boutique edition featuring a deep blue dial within an 18-karat red gold case, while the other extends the regular collection with a burgundy dial like the one also seen on the new Portugieser Chronograph.
With the latter, I also have the same reservations as to whether the dial color is the perfect match for its strap. I know it is a detail, but when it comes to watches every detail matters, and some even more.
I can only hope that the COVID-19 pandemic winds down soon, both ending pain and suffering and allowing me to travel again to examine these watches in real life instead of studying the details on my computer screen.
For more information, please visit www.iwc.com/en/watch-collections/portugieser.
Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Automatic 40
Case: 40.4 x 12.4 mm, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: Caliber 82200 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 60-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Price: $7,000 in stainless steel; $16,000 in red gold
Quick Facts IWC Portugieser Automatic 42
Case: 42.3 x 14.2 mm high, stainless steel or red gold
Movement: Caliber 52010 with Pellaton automatic winding system, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency, 168-hour power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; power reserve indicator
Price: $12,500 in stainless steel; $23,500 in red gold (Boutique Edition)