HANDS-ON: The new IWC Portugeiser Chronograph IW371620 is a near-perfect warm weather watchZach Blass
The IWC Portugieser collection is rooted in both class and utility. It was an elegant solution, originally presented in 1939, due to demand for a marine-deck chronometer experience that could be translated into a wristwatch. It was oversized for its time – a rather sporty characteristic – but still every bit as elegant as its more compact peers and the watch proved to be a success with gentleman overseeing docks and other nautical prospects. Legibility and accuracy are the two central pillars of the Portugieser line, and over the years IWC has changed very little of its winning formula. So, when I got hands-on with the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph IW371620, needless to say it really piqued my interest, giving the traditional collection a youthful blue, white, and rubber makeover.
IWC is known for larger timepieces, for sure, but the IWC Portugieser Chronograph IW371620 is very reasonably sized at 41mm in diameter and 13mm in thickness. While I do not have an exact measurement, shame on me, I can safely infer the lug-to-lug is under 50mm – so wrist-manageable for the average wrist. The watch may appear larger, as Portugieser watches are known for thin bezels and larger dials. This, of course, is an optical illusion at the end of the day. The stainless-steel case, rated to 30 metres of water-resistance, is entirely polished on its front, with its case flanks richly brushed to give it a sporty edge. Its finish caters to the dockside lifestyle the collection was born for, but more tailored to the modern era.
The youthful feel of the watch can be largely be attributed to the blue and white colour scheme of the dial. The color-combo is by no means new to the modern era, but its execution in the modern era is definitely associated with an element of sportiness. It is handsomely executed, with a white lacquer base livened up by the blue accents of the central hands, applied numerals, dotted outer minutes track, and the concentrically textured elapsed minutes and running seconds registers at 12′ and 6′ respectively. The blued numerals carry the same elegant typeface as previous models, and the blued central hands, executed in a thin leaf-style, are lume-less like the rest of the dial. This gives the IWC Portugieser Chronograph IW371620 the dressy flair of previous models, but its rubber pairing and youthful color combo rejuvenates the traditional template for today’s marketplace.
As I have already made very clear, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph IW371620 is outfitted on a dial-accent matching blue rubber strap 20mm in width. Yes this is a very convenient lug width for aftermarket play, but you would be hard pressed to beat the factory pairing that sits perfectly flush against the case – giving it that pseudo-integrated feel. A central channel to the strap adds intriguing texture, introducing a woven fabric like aesthetic to the rubber. On the wrist it is firm yet soft, clearly rugged and ready for daily wear. It is secured to the wrist via a case-matching stainless steel pin/buckle closure, with plenty of loopholes to fine tune the size. Like the camber of the lugs, you will be glad to know the rubber strap wraps around the wrist well – in short, it’s super comfortable.
Inside the watch, beneath an exhibition caseback, you have the IWC manufacture calibre 69355, which is a descendant of the Valjoux 7750 movement. IWC has definitely left their own distinct imprint on the base, however, as the 69355 is an automatic column-wheel chronograph calibre rather than cam-driven. The column wheel is a much more luxurious tactile experience for the wearer, the pusher actuation much more crisp and smooth. It is also afforded a greater level of decoration, with circular Côtes de Genève on the bridge and a perlage finish to the mainplate. The calibre also offers four more hours of power reserve than a standard 7750, with a total power reserve of approximately 46 hours.
In the title of this review, surely you have clocked “near-perfect”. There is a lot to love about the watch. A handsome and versatile aesthetic, good size and finish to the case, and super comfortable rubber strap. The one detail I would nitpick is the water-resistance. If IWC could have gotten it up to 60m, or even better 100m, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph IW371620 would be even more competitive of an offering than it already is. But, keep in mind this is not a lumed sports watch. It is still true to its elegant tool watch origins. All things considered, as you wear this watch on land, or on a boat where you only risk being splashed, this watch will definitely draw compliments from those around you.
IWC Portugieser Chronograph IW371620 pricing and availability:
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph IW371620 is available now for purchase via IWC and authorized dealers. Price: $13,200 AUD / $8,400 USD
|Portugieser Chronograph ref. IW371620
|41mm x 13mm
|White lacquer with blue accents
|Blue rubber with steel pin/buckle
|Automatic IWC manufacture calibre 69355
|Hours, Minutes, Seconds, Chronograph
|Circular Côtes de Genève, perlage
|$13,200 AUD / $8,400 USD