When it comes to new releases, IWC has a policy of focusing its ‘hero’ new models into a single family. Last year was the Pilot’s and this year it’s the Portugieser, and we’ve been treated to a brace of new models. Some of these are incremental upgrades, while others are brand new models.?
It’s been a while since the Portugieser got a significant moment in the sun — while we have seen the odd limited edition or update here and there, it was in 2015 when the line last got a significant revamp (and a name change from Portuguese). Before we plot a course for the newest models, let’s do a Cliff Notes update as to what the Portugieser is all about. The Portugieser was born in the 1930s, when two Portuguese gentleman ordered a highly precise wristwatch from IWC, which necessitated the use of a pocket watch movement in an oversized case, and these large cases have been a characteristic of the line ever since. I say ever since, but really, it wasn’t until the model was reborn in 1993, for the brand’s 125th anniversary when the model really kicked off.?
Now it’s one of the most important and popular of IWC’s families, and with these new releases, a little bit richer and complex. We’ll run through all of them, but we might as well kick off with the hero piece …?
Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide
The most exciting (and most teased) new model is, without doubt, the Portugieser Yacht Club Moon & Tide — an almost poetic take on two deeply linked complications put together in a very IWC way. The moon impacts earth in numerous ways, with one of the most obvious being the ebb and flow of the tides. Not to go too far into the science, but the moons gravitational pull is felt by water. So high tides occur at those points of earths rotation where the moon is closest to the earth — the water bulges at this point (high tides), and gradually dissipates (low tides) as the world keeps turning. High tides are regular — taking into account the constant movement of the planet and the moon — and occur every 12 hours and 24 minutes, which is where the watchmaking comes in.
Thanks to a reducing gear of three cogs attached to the hour pinion, IWC has been able to make a tidal disc display, which rotates by around 24 minutes every 12 hours and 24 minutes, or a single revolution every 14.76 days. The display, which is accurate to around 10 minutes every century, needs to be calibrated to the specific tide time tables depending on the wearers location. The other side of the equation is the double moon phase at 12, a more familiar sight on IWC watches. All this novel complexity is packaged up in the Portugieser’s sportiest iteration — the Yacht Club, specifically a gold model with blue dial on a textile-inlaid rubber strap.?
Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph
If you like those Yachty Club looks, but don’t need the complicated lunar additions, you’re in luck, because IWC has also unveiled the third generation of the Yacht Club Chronograph — three 44mm watches, powered by the familiar 893671 calibre with its single totalizer at 12. There are steel models on bracelet in silver or blue, and my pick of the litter, a handsome steel and red gold two-tone option, which is equal parts Yacht Club and Yacht Rock.?
Portugieser Automatic 40
As mentioned above the Portugieser has historically been a plus-sized model, and in the 90s and 00s, this played quite well as larger diameters were the name of the game. But the times they have a changed, and now more and more people are looking for smaller, more slender options.? IWC have delivered with the Portugieser Automatic 40, which as you may have guessed has a 40.4mm case, which sites 12.4mm tall (a little less than 2mm thinner than the bigger version). Powered by the 82200 calibre, it eschews the horizontal sub-second and power reserve layout of the regular Portugieser in favour of a seconds-at-six configuration, which works well with models heritage vibes. It’s offered in steel with silver dial and either blued or gold applied details and hands, as well as steel with a blue dial and red gold with a silver dial and Santoni strap. Alongside these new compact models, IWC has also rolled out regular Portugieser automatics in steel with Burgundy dials and red gold with dark blue dial.
Portugieser Perpetual Calendars
Following on hot on the heels of the smaller Automatic is a new iteration of the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar. For me, this is one of the most exciting additions to the lineup, as it integrates a complex (and historically significant complication for IWC) into a neat 42mm package. The movement powering this, Calibre 82650, is new, and offers all the usual perpetual calendar functionality, along with IWC’s Pellaton winding, a 4 Hz beat rate and 60 hours of power reserve. And besides being more compact, it also offers a classic aesthetic, dropping the double-moon-at-12 display of the larger 52610 movement in favour of a moon phase at six, stacked with the month display. Initially offered in three references, one steel and two gold, with silver and blue dials respectively this is a sophisticated addition to the family. One that will, I suspect, prove quite popular.?
While other new Portugiesers brings the sizzle, the new Chronograph is pure steak. The watch is already a proven performer, and we were treated to an announcement of a significant movement update to the core model earlier this year. Now all Portugieser chronographs are powered by IWC’s own calibre 69355 — a welcome upgrade. The other updates include two new steel models, one with a vivid green dial and the other a rich burgundy, both of which are very fetching and quite fun for IWC. And finally, over on the precious metal side, there’s a red gold cased option with an attractive dark blue dial. The latter is a boutique exclusive.
Portugieser High Complications
It wouldn’t be an IWC novelty release without some serious complications thrown in, and this year is no different. We get two new references of Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon, one in the new Armor Gold (a new material which, thanks to an improved microstructure, promises to be harder than regular gold), as well as an option in platinum. Both are limited to 50 pieces. Then there’s the Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon, again in Armor Gold and Platinum, and again limited to 50 each.?
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