Hands On: IWC Portofino Complete Calendar

A triple calendar made more affordable.

Last year, IWC reinvigorated the underrated Portofino line that’s long been overshadowed by the bestselling Pilot’s Watch and Portugieser. Historically one of the brand’s most classical offerings, the Portofino is best summarised as clean, almost minimalist, with the occasional Roman numerals. 

While recent Portofino complications have been somewhat plain, the Portofino perpetual calendar made things a little more interesting. Now IWC is continuing with the theme in a more affordable manner with the Portofino Complete Calendar. Taking its design cues from the more complex perpetual, the Complete Calendar is slightly larger but mechanically simpler. And as a result of the entry-level pricing, it is is powered by the no-frills ValFleurier movement widely used by watch brands owned by Swiss luxury group Richemont, which naturally includes IWC. 

The symmetrical dial

The ValFleurier movement has been dressed up for the display back

Initial thoughts

For the longest time, IWC has emphasised two lines, Pilot’s Watches and Portugieser, simply because they sell the best. At the same time, it has tried  to rejuvenate its other collections like the Ingenieuir and Aquatimer with little success.

Last year it made tentative steps in reviving the Portofino collection with an all-new perpetual calendar. Simple in design, the Portofino perpetual doesn’t try to do too much – and for that reason it found some success as the brand’s entry-level perpetual calendar. Now IWC is doing the same with a simpler calendar, once again keeping it focused and concise.

The Complete Calendar is essentially a triple calendar, but unlike most triple calendar watches that have a traditional layout with two windows under 12 o’clock, this opts for a more modern two-register dial. This gives it a distinctive appearance that sets it apart from comparable offerings in its price range.

Layout aside, the Complete Calendar retains the characteristic Portofino styling, so the hour markers are baton while the typography is sans serif. Granted, the design might come across as staid, particularly compared to IWC’s higher-end calendar watches, which are not only more complicated but also feature more vibrant dial colours.

At the same time, the movement inside the Complete Calendar is very much a basic calibre. But considering its affordability – the steel variant costs US$10,800 – the new Portofino is a good option. If you like the clean styling, it is a good proposition. That said, a price under US$10,000 would have made it an excellent value proposition.

The Portofino Perpetual Calendar released last year

Complete and triple, but not perpetual

A complete calendar displays the date, day of the week, month, and occasionally the moon phase. It is more commonly known as a triple calendar. The main difference between this and a perpetual calendar is setting the calendar: a complete calendar mechanism assumes every month has 31 days, so it has to be adjusted in each month that does not have 31 days. In contrast a perpetual calendar only needs to be corrected every 100 years when the leap year is absent due to a quirk of the Gregorian calendar.

The new Portofino executes the complication with two registers – the months and date combined at six o’clock, while the moon phase and weekday are at 12 o’clock. Each of the calendar indications can be adjusted individually either via recessed pushers on the side of the case, or all at once via the crown. 

Because it is mechanically simpler than a perpetual, the Complete Calendar is also slimmer than its perpetual calendar counterpart. Compared to the 40 mm perpetual, it has a larger diameter of 41 mm, which was definitely a design choice since the movement is relatively small. But it is only 11.8 mm high, almost 1 mm thinner than the perpetual, resulting in fairly elegant proportions.

The case has the usual Portofino design, which is the simplest amongst IWC’s lines. It’s entirely rounded, right down to the shape of the lugs, and entirely polished, with little adornment anywhere. The simplicity in its construction, with the lack of embellishment or contrasting finishes, is unsurprising since Portofino models are usually the most affordable in each category. 

Available in either stainless steel or 18k red gold, the Complete Calendar only has one dial option for now, a fuss-free silver with hands and markers to match the case. Both dial versions gain some colour thanks to a blued steel seconds hand.

The Portofino Complete Calendar is also available in stainless steel. Image – IWC

The dial is sensibly designed and legible. Even though the complete calendar function means the dial gets more crowded than on a time-only watch, everything is presented in a clear and organised manner. 

The twin sub-dials are bordered in gold and featured an outer scale with concentric patterning, giving them depth and contrast. And the moon phase disc has both the moon and stars in relief against a grained background, adding a bit of detail to the clean dial.

The Complete Calendar has a sapphire back that provides a peek at the cal. 32150 inside. The calibre features an efficient “Magic Lever” pawl-winding system and a respectable 72 hours of power reserve. 

It’s part of the larger 32000 family of movements, which is in turn derived from the workhorse calibre developed by ValFleurier, the movement factory owned by Richemont that supplies several of the groups brands. Different iterations of the same calibre can be found in watches by Cartier, Panerai, and Baume & Mercier. But it is usually found in each respective brand’s entry-level models, as the Portofino Complete Calendar is.

The cal. 32150

While it still is clearly an entry-level model – the cost-efficient Etachron regulator gives that away – the cal. 32150 has been dressed up more than its equivalents in less expensive watches. It has circular striping on the bridges, perlage on the base plate, along with blued screws and a rose gold-plated rotor – all industrial finishing no doubt but still visually appealing.

Concluding thoughts

It’s easy to see why the Portofino Complete Calendar is attractive. It offers a useful complication in a simple and elegant package that features a good quality of construction. Admittedly it is not as sophisticated in terms of finishing or mechanics as IWC’s pricier watches, but it still has the usual workmanlike IWC quality. The muted colours and plain movement are downsides, but it is the most affordable IWC calendar complication. 

Key Facts and Price

IWC Portofino Complete Calendar
Ref. IW359001 (steel)
Ref. IW359002 (rose gold)

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 11.8 mm
Material: Stainless steel or 18k rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 32150
Functions: Hours, minutes, central hacking seconds, date, day, month, and moon phase
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Blue or taupe calfskin strap with buckle

Availability: Available at IWC boutiques, IWC.com, and retailers starting April 2023.
Price: US$10,800 for stainless steel or 15,000 Singapore dollars; US$20,400 for rose gold or 29,400 Singapore dollars.

For more, visit IWC.com.


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