IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Day & Night

Living Legend: IWC Gives the Portugieser a Glow Up at Watches and Wonders

New dial colors and slimmer profiles refresh IWC’s celebrated dress watch.

By Laurie Kahle

While the word “iconic” has become ubiquitous in the watch industry, few timepieces truly live up to the accolade. The Portugieser from IWC is a longstanding member of that rarefied club with a lineage that stretches back to the 1930s.

As the story goes, a watch wholesaler in Lisbon, Portugal, approached the brand with a request for a men’s wristwatch that could match the precision of a marine chronometer. The company obliged, using a pocket watch movement in a huge (for that time) 43mm case. Thus, the Reference 325, later dubbed Portugieser (German for Portuguese), was born in 1939.

The Portugieser’s clean aesthetic with large Arabic numerals, slim feuille (leaf) hands, and a railway-track-style chapter ring reflected the modernist Bauhaus style of the Deco era. Its timeless design has more than proven its staying power as Portugieser has continually evolved for nearly a century.

At this year’s Watches and Wonders Geneva, the Portugieser once again steps into the spotlight with a renewed range of novelties that include 40mm and 42mm automatics, a chronograph, a perpetual calendar, and a tourbillon

Fresh Faces

Perhaps most prominent among the updates is a trio of new dial colors: Horizon, Obsidian, and Dune, symbolizing the cycle of day into night.

Meant to evoke a sunny afternoon sky, the light-blue Horizon-colored dials are paired with polished and brushed white gold cases and matching calfskin straps from Santoni, an Italian manufacturer of luxury shoes and leather goods.

Inspired by the dusk, the Dune dials are complemented with stainless steel or white gold cases, gold-plated hands, gold appliques, and black alligator leather straps.

Finally, Obsidian dials are matched with gleaming 18-karat 5N gold cases, gold-plated hands, and gold appliques to symbolize a starry night sky.

For maximum radiance and dimensionality, the dials undergo an intricate production process that involves the application of 15 layers of transparent lacquer polished to a high gloss. Meanwhile, a special printing procedure and hand-mounted appliques add further depth, and redesigned graphics optimize balance and legibility.

Portugieser Automatic 40 & Portugieser Automatic 42

The cases of the new Portugieser Automatic 40 and Automatic 42 have been slimmed down for a more elegant profile, while double box-glass sapphire crystals on the front and back expand the view of the dials and the IWC-manufactured movements inside.

First introduced in 2020, the new Portugieser Automatic 40 is available in Horizon (Ref. IW358402; $19,500) and Obsidian (Ref. IW358401; $18,500) versions.

Its clean, open dial dispenses with a date window and features a small seconds display at 6 o’clock, calling back to the 1939 original. Inside, the 82200 calibre with a 60-hour power reserve is endowed with a Pellaton winding system featuring components made of zirconium oxide ceramic.

In addition to the Horizon (Ref. IW501708; $27,800), Dune (Ref. IW501705; $13,500), and (Obsidian Ref. IW501707; $26,700) options, the Automatic 42 is also available in stainless steel with a choice of silver-plated (Refs. IW501701 & IW501702; $13,500) or dark blue (Ref. IW501704; $14,500) dials.

The balanced dial layout, with the power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock and small seconds at 9 o’clock, references the original Portugieser Automatic launched in 2000.

The Automatic 42 is powered by the IWC manufacture calibre 52011 with an improved escapement for enhanced anti-magnetic protection and a Pellaton winding system that generates a seven-day (168 hours) power reserve in two barrels.

Portugieser Chronograph

A trio of new 41mm Portugieser Chronographs adds Horizon (Ref. IW371626; $20,300), Dune (Ref. IW371624; $8,400), and Obsidian (Ref. IW371625; $19,200) dials to the mix.

Launched in 1998, the Portugieser Chronograph infused the collection with a sporty function while retaining its elegant sensibility. Its distinctive vertical sub-dial layout positions the stopped minutes at 12 o’clock for optimal legibility and small seconds at 6 o’clock. The inner flange is printed with a quarter-second scale for precise stop-time readings.

The chrono is powered by the robust and reliable 69355 calibre energized by a bi-directional pawl-winding system similar to the Pellaton. A classic column-wheel provides crisp pusher action, and seamless integration with the base movement ensures the chronograph’s reliability even when subjected to intensive use.

Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44

IWC also reengineered the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44, available in four new versions: two in 18-karat white gold with Horizon (Ref. IW503703; $47,500) and Dune (Ref. IW503704; $47,500) dials, and two in the brand’s 18-karat Armor Gold with a choice of Obsidian (Ref. IW503702; $46,500) or silver-plated (Ref. IW503701; $46,500) dials.

Armor Gold is an alloy of 5N gold that is significantly harder and more durable than conventional 5N gold. The 44.4mm case has been slimmed down and fitted with front and back box-glass sapphire crystals.

The first Portugieser perpetual calendar launched in 2003 featuring IWC’s patented Double Moon display depicting the moon phase as seen from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. It was also equipped with a larger reduction gear, increasing accuracy from 122 to 577.5 years.

The 52616 calibre’s escapement has been upgraded with stronger anti-magnetic protection, and the Pellaton winding system generates a seven-day power reserve in two barrels.

Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Day & Night

At the top of the line, the Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Day & Night (Ref. IW545901; $79,300) is exclusively available in a 42.4mm Armor Gold case with an Obsidian dial.

The eye is first drawn to the spinning flying minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock. The 56-part mechanism weighs only 0.675 grams and has a silicon pallet lever and escape wheel treated with a special diamond coating to reduce friction, thereby contributing to the movement’s 84-hour power reserve.

A novel day/night indicator at 9 o’clock takes the form of a sphere with a dark half and a light half that completes a full rotation every 24 hours. And because the 81925 calibre is manually wound, the turning globe is visible from both the front and back.

For more information about the brand’s Watches and Wonders releases, check out the IWC website.

(Photography by Pierre Vogel)

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