Now 20 years old the IWC Portugieser Chronograph has been a top selling mainstay of the line, being a good looking watch, surprisingly flat despite its complication, and well-priced. Despite an attempt to go upmarket with IWC’s high-end in-house chronograph movement, the original Portugieser Chronograph ref. 3714 remains popular.
IWC’s 150th Anniversary Jubilee Collection offers a hint as to where the Portugieser Chronograph is headed, which is basically a better movement for the same price.
Aesthetically, the Portugieser Chronograph Edition “150 Years” gets the anniversary treatment, glossy lacquered dials in either dark blue or white. Both are familiar colours for the Portugieser Chronograph, but the shiny finish that resembles enamel is novel. Being more restrained, the white dial has the edge in visual appeal.
Inside is where the upgrade is significant. Instead of the low-cost Valjoux 7750 or Sellita SW500 inside the original ref. 3714, the anniversary chronograph is powered by the cal. 69355. IWC terms it a “manufacture” movement, think of it as a heavily upgraded Valjoux 7750 produced by IWC.
While much of basic architecture relies on the tried and tested Valjoux 7750, improvements have been made in crucial areas. Several of the key upgrades are obvious, namely the column wheel to control the chronograph start-stop, as well as the escape wheel and pallet fork produced via LIGA, a high-tech lithographic and moulding process. The technique results in a lightweight, open-worked escapement made of nickel, improving the efficiency of the movement.
Though the anniversary Portugieser Chronograph is indistinguishable from the earlier generation, it is actually slightly larger due to the new movement. The anniversary model is 41mm in diameter and 13.1mm high, making it marginally larger than the original that measures 40.9mm by 12.6mm.
The upgraded Portugieser Chronograph is barely 4% more expensive than the existing ref. 3714, making it a better buy than the original, offering more for essentially the same money.
Price and availability
The Portugieser Chronograph Edition “150 Years” is a limited edition of 2000 pieces in each colour: the blue dial (ref. IW371601), or white (ref. IW371602). It is priced at US$7150 and will be available in IWC boutiques and retailers starting October 2018.
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