Designing a collection as wide and as important as IWC’s jubilee collection must represent quite the challenge. It needs to be new and innovative, but also remain true to the brand’s deepest roots. I think, by and large, that IWC have done a fine job. Not only does the diverse, 27-watch collection have a clear, unifying theme, thanks to the richly lacquered white and blue dials, but the selection of models is a good balance of their greatest hits and historically significant models.
The Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition “150 Years” fits into both camps quite neatly. The important reference has enjoyed ever-increasing popularity since it first made its way back into the IWC catalogue in the early ’90s. And just quietly, I think this limited edition hand-wound Portugieser is one of the most attractive takes on the model ever released. Hands down. It’s got everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Offered in either steel (1000 pieces) or red gold (250 pieces) versions — both with white dials — the watch is effortlessly, unashamedly classic. The black printed sans-serif Arabic numerals, railroad-style minute track, seconds dial and IWC logo are crisply printed, and given plenty of space on the large dial. The blued steel leaf-style hands add a flash of colour, a dash of style and are an essential element of the Portugieser DNA. Even the date — the traditional bugbear of the watch nerd — is well done: neatly integrated into the dial layout, legible with well-matching colour and typeface. Side note, I actually prefer this logo type to the more sprawling, cursive logo type used on the heritage Portugiesers from a few years ago. It looks a little cleaner, feels less like a heritage reissue, which is great, because it isn’t.
Then there’s the case. Typically, I’d scoff at a watch with this sort of classic chronometer style dial in a 43mm case, but the Portugieser gets a pass, as the original was just as large, thanks to its use of a large pocket watch movements. And speaking of movements, the calibre 59215 is the other star of this watch, the ever steady rhythm to the soaring melody that is the dial. With its whopping eight days of power, hidden power reserve indicator, traditional big bridge architecture and Breguet spring, this is the sort of movement that made IWC great. There’s even a charming little gold medallion celebrating the 150th anniversary inset into the movement.
Both versions are offered on formal black alligator straps with pin buckles. And while I deeply love the richness and contrast offered in the red gold version, I certainly wouldn’t say no to the steel.
IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition “150 Years” Australian pricing and availability
IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition “150 Years” in steel, limited to 1000 pieces, $13,900; in red gold, limited to 250 pieces, $27,100.