Built to Last: Hands-On with the Two New Portofino Perpetual Calendars from IWC
The Schaffhausen-based watchmakers are planning for a great future and using its superlative Portofino collection and the new Portofino Perpetual Calendar models to spread the word.
As the holiday season officially kicks off, enthusiasts are being treated to a slew of end-of-year releases. And one of the most pleasant surprises comes from IWC Schaffhausen and the return of its iconic perpetual calendar complication to the Portofino collection.
Watchonista got a chance to unwrap this present early, and we have thoughts!
First of all, it’s apt that a perpetual calendar serves as a symbol of IWC’s take on the present and a read on its plans for the future.
The first update is to the Portofino case. There are two versions available, one in 18K 5N gold and the other in stainless steel, marking the first perpetual calendar Portofino with a stainless steel case.
Another significant change is the size. With a case diameter of only 40mm, the Portofino Perpetual Calendar is currently the smallest perpetual calendar watch in the IWC catalogue. Yes, these days, consumers tend to favor smaller timepieces. But when it comes to mechanisms, shaving a few millimeters off the size of a watch represents a significant example of engineering.
So, this small change represents a big commitment from IWC’s research and development team.
It’s What’s Inside That Counts
IWC has been hitting it out of the park with ceramic innovation this year, like the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe” and its bright white case. And with this pair of Portofinos, the manufacture is showcasing another side of the material.
This pair is powered by the IWC-manufactured 82650 calibre movement, featuring automatic Pellaton winding with ceramic components and a power reserve of 60 hours. And in addition to displays for the date, weekday, and month, the calendar also features IWC’s perpetual moon phase indication, which will only deviate by one day from the orbit of Earth’s satellite in 577.5 years.
No other complication sums up IWC’s engineering chops like this caliber. Created in the 1980s by former head watchmaker Kurt Klaus, the defining characteristic of this calendar is its user experience. Using an intelligent mechanical program that recognizes the different lengths of the months, it automatically inserts a leap day every four years.
And it will continue to run without manual adjustment until 2100. That is when the leap year will be omitted due to an exception in the Gregorian calendar (a fun fact I only just learned from IWC).
Another great user-friendly function? Because the displays are perfectly synchronized, the calendar can be advanced simply by using the crown.
When one picks up one of these Portofino Perpetual Calendars, it’s clear that IWC has correctly read the current mood. It also shows that the brand has set long-term goals.
Supermodel Giselle Bündchen has joined the brand as an advisor to the sustainability committee. It’s a twist on the usual brand ambassador position in that Bündchen is representing what buyers want instead of serving as an aspirational symbol.
When Bündchen was appointed to the committee, she explained her philosophy on how luxury can become more sustainable. “It’s about being mindful...If things are really well made, they can last a long time,” she said. “I believe simplicity is the new luxury.”
The Portofino collection has always been about refinement and elegance. There are no throwaway details in these two timepieces. For example, the perpetual moon phase display has been integrated into the month display and shows the moon against the backdrop of a starry sky.
Both are robust enough to last more than a lifetime. The stainless steel version features a silver-plated dial and rhodium-plated hands and appliques. Meanwhile, the 18K 5N gold edition has a silver-plated dial with gold-plated hands and appliques. Both are presented on blue straps made of traceable Swiss calf leather.
The IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar is now available at IWC boutiques, authorized retail partners, or online. Visit IWC’s website for pricing.
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)