HANDS-ON: The new IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar IW344601 and IW344602Zach Blass
Most people associate IWC with pilot’s watches, which makes total sense due to their rich aviation history and classics like the Mark and Big Pilot series. But with their Portugieser and Portofino collections, IWC prove they still know how to appeal to dressier sensibilities. The latest duo of Portofino watches, the IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar IW344601 and IW344602, are great examples of this. These two new perpetual calendars continue the legacy of legendary IWC watchmaker Kurt Klaus, and his ingenious perpetual calendar module, born in the ’80s, that allowed the user to manipulate all of the perpetual calendar indications via the crown in favour of case-side pushers.
Unabashedly a dressier watch, each of the 40mm cases, stainless steel and 18K 5N gold, are entirely mirror polished. A super thin bezel, if you can even call it that, results in a larger dial that offers the perpetual calendar complication more real estate in the name of legibility – a core principle of any IWC watch design.
The IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendars are both 12.7mm thick, with a highly box-domed sapphire crystal for a pseudo vintage effect. That being said, as a dress or smart casual watch it may have made more sense to have a flat sapphire crystal that would have given the watch a thinner presence. Nonetheless, 12.7mm is by no means super thick, and most sleeve cuffs should find the thickness of this 60 metre water-resistant case agreeable.
With such a high complication, balance is created by having a less complicated dial. The silver-plated finish on both watch dials allows the perpetual calendar to be the star of the show and is very easy to read and use. Working from the outboard in, you have a printed outer minutes track in black. A step inwards, you will find case-matching applied hour indices. Next, you have the perpetual calendar registers. At 3′ are the day and leap year indications, at 6′ you have the month and moon phase indications, and at 3′ the calendar date. Each of the registers have a stepped indication ring pertaining to the calendar information, and a blued sub-hand, which matches the blued stick central second hand, to convey the information. Lastly, the central hours and minutes leaf handset are rendered in a case-matching tone – gold-plated for the 18K 5N gold model and rhodium-plated for the stainless-steel model.
Each watch is outfitted on a blue calf leather strap with a pebbled texture, tone on tone stitching, and case-matching pin buckle closure. I personally support this move, as a blue strap ensures your watch can go with pretty much any wardrobe colour and it also ties into the blued hands. With 60 metres of water-resistance, you could get away with a leather-look simulating rubber strap from a brand like Jean Rousseau were you to try and swim with it. But, you are probably better off leaving your aquatic adventures to your sportier timepieces in this instance.
Inside the watch, beneath an exhibition caseback is the IWC-manufactured automatic calibre 82650, adorned with circular Côtes de Genève, perlage, and a semi-openworked rotor to avoid obstructing too much of the view beneath. The calibre, which further refines what Kurt Klaus initially developed, offers 60 hours of power reserve off the wrist on a full wind, further supported by the highly efficient Pellaton winding system while worn.
It is no secret perpetual calendars from venerated Swiss brands can command quite a high cost befitting of a high complication, but fortunately IWC has brought forth steel and gold options to create two points of entry into the collection. The sober no-nonsense aesthetic by no means reinvents the wheel, but for those looking for a timeless look that will never go out of fashion, from a brand with strong roots with such a complication, these IWC Portofinio Perpetual Calendars may just be for you.
IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar pricing and availability:
The IWC Perpetual Calendar ref. IW344601 (Stainless Steel) and IW344602 (18K 5N Gold) are available now for purchase. Price: AU$33,900 (IW344601), AU$48,100 (IW344602)
|Portofino Perpetual Calendar ref. IW344601 (Stainless Steel) / IW344602 (18K 5N Gold)
|40mm (D) x 12.7mm (T)
|Stainless Steel or 18K 5N Gold
|Sapphire crystal and caseback
|Blue calfskin leather strap with case-matching pin buckle
|IWC-manufactured automatic calibre 82650
|Hours, minutes, seconds, perpetual calendar
|AU$33,900 (IW344601), AU$48,100 (IW344602)