IWC love springing surprises. In a preview presentation of the new watches to be presented at SIHH beginning on 18 January 2015 in Geneva, the brand has presented a new watch, and announced that the Portuguese family will change name to Portugieser. This was in fact the name (Portuguese in German) given to the family when it was first launched back in 1939.
The new Portugieser Annual Calendar is a lovely watch. Apart from the name, it has a lot of the family’s original DNA, with large case size (44.2 mm in diameter, 15.3 mm thick) enhanced by a narrow bezel that maximises dial size, reflecting the 1939 watch’s origins based on a pocket watch movement (at that time, men’s watches were less than 34 mm in diameter and so the first Portugieser was considered as huge at 43 mm). Like the 1939 watch, the Portugieser Annual Calendar has feuille hands, Arabic numerals, and a small seconds subdial, though in a different position with respect to the historic timepiece. The overall feel of the dial is one of simplicity.
But the latest model incorporates five years research and development, and the month, date and day display at the top of the dial is absolutely superb. It looks great (similar in feel to the day-date layout pioneered by Rolex) and undoubtedly embodies some complex engineering. How does it work? The discs for month and day are small enough to sit on either side of the date disc which goes all the way around the case. The Calibre 52850 movement was developed specifically for this model, with two barrels that supply the extra energy needed for the calendar indications. They also provide a 7-day power reserve.
The calendar mechanism is an intelligent addition to the range, bridging the gap between the normal date display and the complete perpetual calendar. This watch takes the different length of months into account, but does not keep track of the four-year cycle, and so it requires manual adjustment every year at the end of February. Correction can be performed from the crown. The small seconds subdial is at 9 o’clock, opposite the power reserve indicator, and it has the stop-seconds (hacking seconds) function for precision time-setting. A sapphire display caseback reveals the movement, which has the Probus Scafusia gold medallion inset into the bridge.
Prices and availability
The watch is made in three variants. The one shown in the photos is in stainless steel with midnight blue dial, Reference IW503502, £28,500. The most prestigious version has a red gold case with silver-plated dial, Reference IW503504, £29,500; the other version is in stainless steel with silver-plated dial (Reference IW503501, £30,900). All versions have black alligator straps made by Italian luxury leather specialists Santoni. They are already available in IWC boutiques.
All in all, a very pleasant surprise, which follows on from the September 2014 launch of the Portofino Midsize, which raised eyebrows in the industry because for the first time, IWC was marketing watches designed specifically for women. Then, just as now, IWC kept the secret very well indeed. Click here to visit the IWC landing page on TimeTransformed.