In 1939, when the first “big wristwatch” left the factory, neither its eye-catching size nor its purist dial and simple, round case conformed to contemporary ideals. Popular taste demanded dainty, wherever possible rectangular, watches in the art deco style. The large case with its grooved bezel – the term used to describe the channelled recess in the ring that holds the glass in place – together with the straight strap horns ran counter to the spirit of the time and its penchant for curlicues and conspicuous accessories.
|International Watch Company (IWC), Portugieser Ref. 325 (Circa 1939)|
|International Watch Company (IWC ) Portugieser Ref. 325 (Circa 1939)|
|International Watch Company (IWC) Portugieser Ref. 325 (Circa 1942)|
In 1967, at the watch fair in Basel, IWC presented the IWC Yacht Club Automatic (Ref. 811 A/AD), the predecessor of today’s Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph. This magnificent men’s watch was made for the rigours of the open sea. Its movement, featuring the efficient Pellaton winding system, is spring-suspended in the case, bearing-mounted on rubber buffers and thus had dual shock-resistance. Exclusiveness combined with ruggedness and suitability for everyday use ensured that the Yacht Club became one of IWC’s bestselling watches.
|International Watch Company (IWC) Portugieser Anniversary Watch Ref. 5441 (Circa 1993)|
|IWC Portugieser Minute Repeater Ref. 5240 (Circa 1995)|
|IWC Portugieser Chronograph Rattrapante Ref. 3712 (Circa 1995)|
|IWC Portugieser Automatic Ref. 5000 (Circa 2000)|
|IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar “Double Moon” Ref. 5021 (Circa 2003)|
|IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Ref. 5042|
A further example of watchmaking extravagance joined the Portugieser complications in 2007: the regulateur with separate hour, minute and seconds displays (Ref. 5444). Featured below is a new reference of same model (Ref. 5446) launched in 2008.
|IWC -Portugieser Regulateur Tourbillon Ref. 5446 (2008)|
|IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Vintage Ref. 5445 (2008)|
Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde (Ref. 5044) combined the magic of a floating tourbillon with the logic of a date hand that reverts to its starting position.
With its numerous stylistic references, the Portugieser Hand-Wound (Ref. 5454) bridges the gap between the original Portugieser and the present. The Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph (Ref. 3902) takes up the tradition of the 1967 Yacht Club Automatic and brings a sporty note to the Portugieser family.
In 2011, the Portugieser line was enriched by the addition of the Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia (Ref. 5041). It is the most exclusive and complicated mechanical watch ever made by IWC. It took the project team at IWC Schaffhausen10 years to develop and build this spectacular masterpiece.
|IWC Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia (Ref. 5041)|
In 2015, the Portugieser 75 the anniversary collections are launched. This exceptional anniversary collection offers most of the horology complications including Annual Calendar, Perpetual Calendar, Tourbillon, Minute Repeater, Chronograph and Moon phases. Below is a video on the Portugieser 75 the anniversary collection.
Portugieser Annual Calendar (Ref. 5035) is IWC’s first annual calendar. The month, date and day are shown in three separate, semicircular windows at “12 o’clock”. The date switching mechanism is able to take the differing lengths of the individual months into account but not those for the differing numbers of days in February owing to leap years. The newly developed 52850 calibre has twin barrels to supply the additional torque required to advance the three display discs.
|IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar (Ref. 5035)|
|IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary” (Ref. 3972)|
The Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition “75th Anniversary” (Ref. 5102) is right at the heart of the watch family. Its purist design is starkly reminiscent of the original Portugieser (Ref. 325) from the 1930s. But its IWC-manufactured 59215 calibre with an 8-day power reserve is at the leading edge of the industry.
|IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition “75th Anniversary” (Ref. 5102)|
|IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph (Ref. 3905)|
|IWC Portugieser Chronograph (Ref. 3714)|
|Portugieser Perpetual Calendar with a double moon (Ref. 5034)|
Starting this year, too, the Portugieser Automatic (Ref. 5007) will be powered by an in-house movement from the new 52000-calibre family. The legendary Pellaton winding system has been further improved: the pawls, automatic wheel and rotor bearing are now made of extremely hard, wear-resistant ceramic; and two barrels, rather than just one, build up an impressive 7-day power reserve with a frequency of 4 hertz.
For 2015, IWC is making further modifications to the appearance of the Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde (Ref. 5046). The new arched-edge front glass makes the watch appear slimmer. With its exclusive Santoni alligator leather strap and the newly designed in-house 51900 calibre, a timepiece swathed in mystery radiates an even greater attraction.
|IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde (Ref. 5046)|
|IWC Portugieser Minute Repeater (Ref. 5449)|
|IWC Portugieser Grande Complication (Ref. 3776)|
The Portugieser Tourbillon Hand Wound (Ref. 5463) with its filigree “whirlwind” will remain a source of delight to connoisseurs of precision watchmaking.
Five models in the 2015 Portugieser collection feature an arched-edge sapphire glass. It makes the case look slimmer and underscores the watch’s classic elegance. The strap horn, which closely follows the contours of the case, combined with the slightly curved lugs ensure that the watch fits more comfortably even on a slimmer wrist.
The luxurious alligator leather straps made by Italian shoe manufacturer Santoni are among the best that traditional craftsmanship has to offer. One of the secrets of Santoni’s success is the nuanced shading of the leather. Elaborately finished by hand, every strap comes with an exclusive patina-like shimmer with its own individual colour tones. To achieve this effect, the surface of the leather is polished with a variety of different pastes until it has the desired shading and a perfect sheen.
New in-house movements
The focus on manufacturing its own movements and pride in its own watchmaking capabilities are nothing new in Schaffhausen. The in-house movements in the new 52000-, 69000- and 42000-calibre families also feature numerous technical improvements which, among other things, make them more accurate. The integration of more ceramic components has made the automatic winding system practically wear-free.
The 52000-calibre family represents the introduction of a new aesthetic to the movements in the Portugieser line. In the calibres of the 52000 family used for the Portugieser premium models, the engraved rotor is made of solid 18-carat red gold and is complemented by blued screws, which is an indispensable characteristic of an exquisite in-house movement for many watch connoisseurs. The decoration with circular graining and Geneva stripes, the interplay of red jewels, blue screws and black ceramic elements with the red gold of the rotor: together they convey an overall impression of quality that is in keeping with an in-house movement of this kind.
Despite the elaborate ornamentation, the movements still look highly technical. IWC Schaffhausen thus remains true to the engineering ethos for which company founder F. A. Jones laid the cornerstone with production methods that were at the cutting edge of the industry in his time. The decoration of watch movements has a long history in Schaffhausen. Even the first F. A. Jones calibres featured engraving and decorative elements. The reason for this lies in the then common practice among American watchmakers of presenting movements openly in their shop window displays. This gave end-customers a chance to familiarize themselves with the complex internal mechanism, even if they never actually saw the movement in the finished watches.
Note: The article does not cover all Portugieser models produced by IWC Schaffhausen. You can discover them by visiting[ IWC Product Archives ]page.