It seemed only appropriate that smack bang in the middle of Baselworld we should line up a viewing of one of the most talked about releases of SIHH, the 2015 IWC Portugieser Collection. Over the last fortnight our Instragram account (@theversatilegent) has been running hot with different variations of what could arguably be the world’s most universally appreciated wristwatch. I’ll support that comment with the fact that the image below of the Portugieser Automatic in Red Gold (IW500701) is our most liked photo on Instagram of all time, and it’s not hard to see why.
The new collection name “Portugieser” has been introduced for a number of reasons. Firstly the brand wanted to build up an iconic name, much like they have done with their Ingenieur moniker and secondly they wanted to own it. Portuguese is a generic word and thus comes with a number of issues when considering a trademark. The name ‘Portugieser’ was more individual and could be credited to IWC and Trademarked across most countries.
Along with a new name, IWC also released a new model to the Portugieser collection, the Annual Calendar (Ref.5053). We covered the watch briefly in December 2014 and were pumped to be one of the first publications in the country to get our hands on it. The new Calibre 52850 movement incorporates five years research and development and displays brilliantly via a striking blue dial.
Below the dial the month and day discs sit above, and on either side, of the much larger date disc which moves around the inside edge of the case. The movement utilises two barrels that supply the required energy to power the calendar function and also maintains a 7 day power reserve.
The case size is 44.2mm in diameter and I was worried it would be a tad too big but it wears very nicely. I think the historical simplicity of past Portuguese dials has had an important influence on this watch especially. The additional functionality could have resulted in a cluttered dial however IWC have ensured the Annual Calendar has stayed true to its roots, classic and clean.
The Automatic (Ref.5007) is the backbone of the Portugieser family, its success has been undeniable and thus refinements have been kept fairly minimal. The dial layout, hands and Arabic numerals so distinctively IWC, has been left untouched. Inside the Automatic gets a new movement featuring a second barrel and new ceramic components making the self-winding mechanism more efficient and robust while maintaining the model’s famous 7 day power reserve .
The 2015 Yacht Club Chronograph stole my heart, perhaps more than any of the other models. I’ve always been a huge fan of the Yacht Club but felt its 45.4mm case was too large for my wrist. Someone, somewhere, answered my prayers. When I picked up the new model I instantly knew what the brand had updated, the size, now coming in at a very approachable 43.5mm in diameter. I think the reduction in case size will open up the Yacht Club Chronograph to a much younger market and a market looking for an elegant and versatile everyday sports watch.
For those with the ability to do so, stepping it up within the Portugieser family means diving into the collection’s extensive selection of Perpetual Calendars. Unfortunately the 75th Anniversary Digital Date-Month (Ref.3972) wasn’t on hand for viewing but that was quickly forgotten as my attention turned to the magnificent examples in front of me.
What you may not have noticed as you’ve scrolled through the pictures so far is the curved strap horns on the 2015 Portugieser collection allowing the strap to sit closer to the case giving the watch a more streamlined appearance and enhanced wearability. I felt this feature was especially complementary on the Perpetual Calendars transitioning seamlessly from the busier dials. I was transfixed by the ‘Double Moon’ and blue dial on the steel cased Ref.503401 and even more impressed with the white gold and Ardoise (slate grey in appearance) combination of the effortlessly sophisticated Ref.503301. Both models (Double and Single moon variations) utilise the IWC 52000-calibre movement featuring solid red gold rotors and blued screws with a 7 day automatic movement with Pellaton winding and a power reserve display.
IWC have refined a fabulous collection of watches in 2015 and have made them no less desirable than they’ve ever been. Enjoy the photos below.