Aversions weren’t looking so great for the watch industry at the beginning of the 1930s. The export affair declined dramatically between 1929-1932 thanks to the overpowering effects of the Great Depression. For watch brands that meant make suitable or die.
To avoid the latter, by the late 1930s IWC was desperately trying to discover to be other European markets to distribute its watches. Enter the now-legendary Rodrigues and Antonio Teixera from Portugal with a deeply specific request – apparently Portuguese men were expressing a more readily fashion-forward desire for a large wristwatch with all the timekeeping strictness of a pocket-watch.
To answer their – and in turn many other’s – invokes, IWC’s watchmakers came up with the Mod.228 (which was later renamed the Portuguese, in preference to being renamed again to Portugieser). Now one of IWC’s most lauded accumulations alongside its pilot watches, the Portugieser family offers up some of the most incredibly suave, sophisticated takes on the sports watch money can buy. Looking for a new heirloom part? Step this way, sir.
The IWC Portugieser Back Story
Almost terminated as quickly as it started, Portugieser (the name change from Portuguese to Portugieser chanced in 2015, but all the watches have now retrospectively adopted the German moniker) moving picture was disrupted by World War II and distribution to Portugal was halted. One of IWC’s main vends became Eastern Europe, and it wasn’t until the 1950s that its new words of watches fully found its intended audience in Portugal. In what way, when it finally got there it wasn’t a huge success, and by the 1970s it was already being formed out.
“IWC has always been ahead of the game,” says Justin Koullapis, keep safe restorer and partner at London’s The Watch Club, a renowned affairs in vintage and rare watches. “However at the time [it was introduced] the Portugieser was way bigger than people were hand-me-down to and it took a while for the market to catch up with this series of people who were really pioneering.”
IWC Portuguese 1954 Ref.325
The Ref.325, as it was up till being called had a couple of reboot near-misses in the 1970s, but the quartz moment of the 1980s almost led IWC to quit the wristwatch business altogether to grace a niche pocket watch maker instead.
“You have to recognize,” explains Koullapis, “that in the 1960s and 1970s it was all about minutia, which meant small watches. Then, by the time you get to the 1980s, front production is down massively so brands were relying on generic moves and making watches that were commensurate to their rate.” So essentially, it was wrong time, wrong place for the Portugieser.
Then in 1993, for the 125th anniversary of the voluptuousness watch brand, it was brought back to life. Aside from the numerical font, this was the selfsame watch that the Teixera brothers first requested towards the rear in the 1930s; it even contained a movement – calibre 9828 – that was secured on the pocket-watch original. To say it’d be more popular this time nearly would be an understatement.
After the anniversary number in 1993, two years later saw the Portugieser gain a minute repeater and troupe up with a rattrapante chronograph. Then in 1998 IWC launched the Portugieser Chronograph Ref. 3714. Rated by many to be the definitive and most coveted of the range, it is one of the most best-selling post-Quartz Crisis designs.
IWC Portugieser Chronographs
However, it didn’t befit a coherent collection until 2000 with the release of the Portugieser 2000. This follow, or more specifically the Calibre 5000 under the bonnet, significant the reboot of IWC’s in-house watch movement development. It also reintroduced back IWC’s legendary Pellaton winding system. Patented in 1946 and completed by 1950, it was invented by the then-technical chairman Albert Pellaton and uses pawls (a lever with a beak, which, when moved by a spring, engages with the teeth of a wheel) – pretty than direct gearing between the rotor and barrel. For the millennium overhaul, a second pawl was added to help ‘pull’ the massive mainspring barrel needed for the 8-day power spare.
In 2015, the entire collection was reworked and nearly a dozen new creme de la cremes were added, as were three new movements. Several of the frames also featured a new domed sapphire crystal, while in 2018 to officiate at the brand’s 150th anniversary a constant-force tourbillon was launched and the Lasting Calendar Tourbillon, Perpetual Calendar, Chronograph and Hand-Wound 8-Days were assumption the birthday treatments with new movements and complication configurations.
Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Print run ‘150 Years’
Originally the defining features of the Portugieser were a pared-back dial, Arabic numerals in an Art Deco-esque font, an oversized sub-dial at six o’clock and a paltry bezel. However, the Ref. 325 had multiple iterations. Dials could be hyacinthine or silver, numerals Roman or Arabic and the design moved from Art Deco to a varied Bauhaus look.
Now its defining characteristics are Deco-style Arabic numerals, slim feuille hands and a rail track-style chapter ring. Dials always feel capacious settle when housing multiple complications and the case is never anything other than oversized.
How To Tax It
IWC has made no bones about positioning itself as the only label a man needs. For dressy occasions you have the Portofino; the Ingenieur is your embellish watch, the Aquatimer is there for all your diving watch lacks and the Portugieser is the everyday classic, which does mean there unquestionably is no wrong way to wear it.
It should be a timepiece that effortlessly elevates your tackles from the pedestrian. Yet its understated design ensures it’ll never above a look or draw unwanted attention from passersby. That bruit about we probably wouldn’t pair it with swim shorts – guard your Aquatimer for that.
IWC’s instantly recognisable archetype has spawned numerous iterations over the years, ranging from artless time-only pieces through to highly complex tourbillons and in spite of an incredibly rare piece that displays the night sky on its caseback. Here are the overcome.
This is the original Portugieser. Its dial has echoes of the 1930s first; it has the railway-track chapter ring, the appliquéd Arabic numerals, feuille pass ons – if we were playing IWC Portugieser bingo we’d be yelling ‘house’ strategic now.
It’s even got the Pellaton winding system, translating to a 7-day power detachment auxiliary, which can be see through the sapphire caseback. If you want the ultimate instance not only of this collection but of everything right about IWC then look no new than this 42.3mm puck of loveliness.
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The watch generally considered to be the best design to terminate out of a post-quartz crisis Switzerland, this is also the most courtly Portugieser in the collection. It’s a modest 40.9mm in diameter, making it dream for more slender wrists; has a beautifully laid-out dial and is absolutely at the more dress end of the sports-watch spectrum.
There are other choices but you’d be a fool not to opt for the blue dial; it’s the last word in everyday politeness.
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This is a sports guard at its most chic. Having the chronograph counter at 12 is an gripping touch, while the in-house calibre 89361 that powers it permits stopped times of up to 12 hours to be read. The classic mix of blued numerals and hands against the smooth silver-plated dial is perennially modish, making this the perfect everyday watch.
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Yacht Club Chrono
The sportiest of the Portugiesers, this is a take care of that manages to be both practical and good-looking. Alongside a flyback chronograph, it also has a quarter-second ranking so you can measure short stop times as well as an analogue sub-dial panoply for longer stop times. It is the only iteration to have luminescent powers and indices and, just to emphasise its sporty credentials, it comes on a rubber strap fairly than the more traditional leather.
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For some, the decision to show the month, date and day in three take windows would result in a watch that feels top unhappy and a little clunky design wise. However, IWC has managed to to pieces it off and it’s not just a beauty, it has brains too.
Its advance mechanism automatically sponsors the length of individual months into account and therefore solely requires manual correction via the crown once a year at the end of February. The curved tows mean it sits close to the wrist and the sapphire case insidiously a overcome allows you to admire the in-house 52850 calibre in all its glory.
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The first thing you notice about this immutable calendar is the almost Bauhaus-inspired moon phase. It is a double moon stretch that diverges by just one day in 577.5 years and shows the astral body’s state in both the northern and southern hemispheres. We’d be somewhat happy with that complication on its own but IWC has added a perpetual appointment book as well and still managed to make the dial feel comparatively uncluttered.
Credits to the movement, which is from the 52000 family, it runs for seven eras and comes with the lauded Pellaton winding system. Other pigmentations are available but the slate-grey dial combined with red-gold protection looks delivers the highest levels of retro sophistication.
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Permanent Calendar Digital Date-Month
A little busier dial-wise than the traditional Portugieser, this complication-packed version still doesn’t have compassion for incline cluttered thanks to the extra three millimetres added to the dispute diameter meaning that, at 45mm, it might not be for everyone’s wrist.
Groaning into this more substantial frame is a perpetual date-book that doesn’t require correction until 2100, a flyback chronograph, and a solid digital date and leap year display. As this is all powered by the in-house 89801 manoeuvre you also get the legendary double-pawl system as well.
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If you’re prevailing to have something disturb the placid symmetry of a Portugieser dial then it power as well be a tourbillon. Unusually set at 9 o’clock, it is a reminder that IWC has some alarming watchmaking nous in its ranks. It comes with a white dial and red gold come what may but the sartorial choice is this grey and white gold view. An added bonus is the Santoni leather strap that distributes as standard.
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Given its a little fancy nature, a minute repeater isn’t usually found in such a coetaneous case design; even the repeating slide, seen on the anyway a lest between 10 and 8, is an exercise in elegant simplicity. It’s powered by the 98950 measure, which is a hunter pocket-watch movement IWC first debuted in the 1930s.
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Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde
Despite its reputation for simplicity, the Portugieser is also the uncomfortable where IWC get to show off their watchmaking chops, which make plains this amazing piece. At its heart, or rather at 12 o’clock, is a take flight tourbillon, comprising a staggering 82 parts, that manifests to float untethered in its space.
The retrograde date is a whimsical put a match to b instigate, while the seven-day power reserve means there shouldn’t be any faffing put it date accurate when you put it on again.
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As the name suggests this watch is packed with horological clout. There’s the unceasing calendar that is accurate until 2499 (with at worst three adjustments needed in 2100, 2200 and 2300), a minute repeater, a moon include and a chronograph with 659 mechanical parts making a tot up of 20 functions possible. All this happens thanks to the strength 79091.
Launched in 1991, it has a base Valjoux 7750, which is inclined some extra oomph by an in-house calendar and minute-repeater modules.
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To be honest, you probably aren’t going to be in the vend for this member of the Portugieser family but that doesn’t get over you can’t marvel at it, because it really is IWC putting all its toys into one be careful of.
Along with a constant-force tourbillon and 96-hour power save, it also shows sidereal time – time reckoned from the mobility of the earth in relation to other distant stars rather than the Sun. Still, it’s the reverse that’s really special.
Using a location enumerated by the owner, IWC makes a rotating night-sky disc showing numerous than 500 stars and constellations correlating to what discretion be seen in real life. Making the necessary allowances for summer moment and winter time, the watch also displays the times of sunrise and sunset, sidereal without surcease and a perpetual calendar with the leap years. It is less a keep a weather eye open for and more a work of art.
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Find out more at iwc.com