By Harlan Chapman-Green
IWC watches have never sat properly with me and I don’t know why. They have all the features I like. They’re usually clean and quite elegant in design, they also make large watches which I prefer to wear on my wrists, and they make very complicated watches too as we’ll see later in the article. However, I just can’t pinpoint what it is about IWC previously that has drawn such a distinct lack of enthusiasm for the company. Hopefully, that’s all about to change.
Portugeiser Automatic SS
Usually, you have to be quite careful if you’re going to make a dress watch in steel. The reason for this is that, while being more affordable it also limits the market, as some customers will undoubtedly shun it for not being expensive enough or too common. Also, other players have the steel dress watch market cornered rather well, particularly IWC’s Richemont sister Jaeger-LeCoultre. So, in order to get a word in edgeways on the market, IWC needed to play its cards right, and luckily it has.
The silver-plated dial and rhodium plated hands offer very little in the way of intricate decoration, but in this case less really is more, as the subdials are well spaced out and clear to see on the dial. The main differentiator between them at a glance is the power reserve’s red chunk which indicates the watch only has 1 day left of a possible 7. The date at 6 o’clock is large and easy to read as well.
Inside is the in-house made calibre 52010, which comes complete with IWC’s Pellaton winding system which maximises the amount of energy going into the barrels, and a massive rotor. This watch’s caseback is nearly all sapphire, the polar opposite of most classy Swiss watches which have clear casebacks showing movements that are probably too small for the case, this is an IWC style through and through. It’s 42.3mm in diameter, why it’s exactly this size I have no idea, but it’s quite a decent size even for a dress watch. It’s still thick, though, 14.2mm thick which means it’s out of reach for most dress cuffs, which is a shame as this seems like the most appropriate market for it.
Portugeiser Perpetual Calendar Platinum
Kicking it up a notch is the second piece we are showing today, IWC’s Portugeiser Perpetual Calendar, a lesson in the complications of the brand. This style has been with IWC for quite some time now, so we are quite familiar with it. It just so happens to be one of the few IWC watches that I adore completely, I happened to see a slightly different one in white gold (ref. IW503301) not too long ago, and I loved the style and presence of the piece.
I can only imagine, then, that this new one will be quite similar, except even more valuable. The 44.2mm case is fashioned of solid platinum and is 14.9mm thick. Like the watch above, it also uses a Pellaton winding system and ceramic bearings for longevity. However, because of the extra complexity, it also includes one of the signature IWC goodies, the Klaus perpetual system. In short, this allows the perpetual calendar to be set via the winding of the crown, making it much easier to use and set than the traditional microscopic dimple pushers on the sides which require fingers like cocktail sticks to operate. That 7-day movement with a gold rotor is completely in-house made as well, and once again fills out to the very edges.
The price for this one is $53,300, which is actually good value compared to some of the top-tier companies, and they don’t even include the little year indicator either. These watches represent good value for money, as well as exciting design too, and are something to be proud of. Bravo IWC. For more info, visit IWC online.