BY HARLAN CHAPMAN-GREEN
IWC is most renowned for its Pilot watches, a reputation well earned for sure. It also makes the Ingenieur, but I get the sense that those have a harder time competing with the rest of the market than the Pilot range, probably because the Pilot is relatively niche whereas the Ingenieur’s target market is broad. And then, there’s the Portofino, a range of watches which are very lovely on the whole but we’re not sure who buys them. For those mysterious customers keeping the Portofino range financially viable, here’s a new model.
Last year IWC showed the Portofino Perpetual Calendar, a new model which combines the grandfather of calendar complications with IWC’s classiest design. Perpetual calendars adjust for the lengths of each month, including February and its leap-year situation. If left to their own devices, perpetual calendars generally don’t need much attention and will show the correct date, day, and month (plus others if the manufacturer so chooses) along with the time. Annual calendars are a reduction of this; they display the same as above and account for the lengths of all months except February, which the owner will need to change. This was introduced in the 1990s by Patek Philippe in their 5035 reference.
Then there’s the complete calendar, which displays all of the indications above – plus the phase of the moon in this case – but does not account for the lengths of any months (except those with 31 days). While I’m sure some will see it as a deal breaker, the fact that the watch displays this information without automatically changing over at the end of the month means the complete calendar shows all the same information while being much more affordable and less complex. I think it’s nice to interact with your watch as well, but I don’t own a perpetual calendar, so I wouldn’t know if I’m missing out.
The complete calendar module inside the new Portofino watches is completely new and is attached to the 32150 calibre. This movement is based on the 32110 family of movements which itself begins with the ETA 2892-A2, which is used by lots of high-end watchmakers, including Panerai and Bell & Ross. Looking at the movement through the sapphire caseback, you can see that this is no ordinary off-the-shelf movement job. For a start, the movement has a much higher grade of finishing on it, and it has a longer power reserve of 72 hours compared to the 42 of the base, although IWC’s website conflicts with this information as it also says the movement has a 110-hour power reserve, so who knows.
All of this slightly mysterious goodness is wrapped up in an elegantly-shaped case with thin lugs and a thin bezel, making this watch look classy and historically inspired. The dimensions are 41mm x 11.7mm, the same diameter as the perpetual calendar version but with a reduced thickness. Water resistance is 50m, but looking at the elegant leather straps, you might want to avoid water entirely.
In stainless steel, the price is $10,800 ($13k less than the perpetual calendar), and in 18k red gold, that jumps to $20,400 (about $12k less than the perpetual version). I love perpetual calendar watches, but now that IWC makes a complete calendar too, it highlights how much of the price they think should be on that complication, and I’m not sure the perpetual calendar is worth the extra as this complete calendar watch is just as elegant but for less cash.
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