A Handy Guide to the Refreshed IWC Portugieser Collection

Conservative upgrades, from 7-days to perpetual.

For IWC, 2024 is the year of the Portugieser. The collection receives a full refresh that covers the Portugieser Automatic 40, Portugieser Automatic 42 (previously known as the 7 Days), Portugieser Chronograph, and Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44.

In addition, IWC has introduced an all-new model, the Portugieser Hand Wound Tourbillon Day & Night with a flying (and hacking) tourbillon. The standout debut, however, is without question the Portugieser Eternal Calendar – which we cover in a separate story.

With the facelift, IWC has refined its core collection with subtle nips and tucks, including slimmer cases, while retaining the familiar design. The revamp includes new liveries including metallic finish dials in baby blue and champagne.

The champagne finish, known as “Dune”

Initial thoughts

I’ve always enjoyed the aesthetic of the Portugieser collection, which is perhaps the only collection of dress watches of any brand where the (over)sizing is a feature rather than a drawback. The new collection is no exception; each piece is attractive and several models have received thoughtful technical upgrades, including an escapement with enhanced magnetism resistance. And the dials are not merely new colours, but sport detailed finishing and thoughtful details.

Of course, there’s little in the way of true novelty in the collection outside of the Eternal Calendar that is a rare complication executed smartly but for an hard-to-believe six-figure price. Even the Tourbillon Day & Night, which is arguably the only other new model, is merely a slight evolution of an existing watch. This means enthusiasts of the collection will probably be pleased, but it’s unlikely to attract any new fans.

That said, the existing Portugieser collection was already fairly strong, and I do find the new colours to be very attractive. The Horizon Blue colour looks particularly good on the the Perpetual Calendar, with its expansive dial and colour-matched year indicator.

Slimmer cases

Beyond the new dial colours, the cases of both the Portugieser Automatic 40 and 42 have been refined and improved. This is most apparent for the 42, which has dropped a full millimetre in thickness, while the 40 has been slimmed less noticeably by just 0.1 mm. The reduced thickness was achieved in part by thinning the case middle and raising the domes of the crystals on the front and back, something IWC labels “double box-glass” sapphire crystals.

Despite being thinner, both the Portugieser 40 and 42 benefit from upgraded water resistance, from 30 to 50 metres. While I don’t think anyone is swimming with a Portugieser, the enhanced rating is welcome and should help ensure the long-term integrity of the case.

Perhaps the nicest detail of the new case is the “stadium” movement found on the Portugieser 40, essentially an extra-wide movement ring that is employed as a design feature.

This moves much of the engraved information typically found on the case back, including the case number and hallmarks, to the movement ring under the sapphire back. This not only looks good, it protects the engravings from being dulled during polishing.

The cal. 52011 surrounded by the engraved movement ring

Improved dial details

The dials continue with the established Portugieser aesthetic, but with a more elaborate execution. Beyond the applied indices, the dials are now finished with several layers of clear lacquer, with the printed logo and text then applied on top of the lacquer. This gives them more gloss and depth.

The recessed sub-dials, whether for seconds, power reserve, or calendar, are milled into the dial and lack the thick clear lacquer, enhancing the perception of depth.

The Obsidian dial on the Portugieser 42

Horizon Blue on the Portugieser 40

Similarly finished with applied indices and clear lacquer, the dials of the Perpetual Calendar 44 are more elaborate due to the calendar indicators. Each sub-dial is recessed and stepped – the brass blank is milled to create the recess – giving them more depth. At the same time, the scales and text have been gently reworked to be cleaner and more legible.

Antimagnetic upgrade

The small upgrades continue on the inside. While the cals. 82200 and 69355 in the Portugieser 40 and Chronograph continue unchanged, the automatic, seven-day cal. 52011 in the Portugieser 42 has been upgraded with a full balance bridge and an antimagnetic escapement. The antimagnetic characteristics have not been confirmed, but it appears to use a metal alloy skeletonised escape wheel and a jewelled lever – both likely of a nickel alloy made via LIGA – differing from the silicon escapement used in the Black Aces Pilot’s Watch.

The upgraded cal. 52011

Both the Portugieser 40 and 42 feature IWC’s famous Pellaton winding system, patented in 1946 by IWC’s then-Technical Director Albert Pellaton. Upgraded with black ceramic pawls for long-term durability, the Pellaton system is engaging to watch in motion and contributes to the distinctive Schaffhausen DNA of both watches.

A difference of night and day

The range of Portugieser tourbillons has also been expanded with the addition of the Tourbillon Day & Night. This model adds a three-dimensional sphere, similar in concept to the De Bethune moonphase indicator, to indicate whether it’s night or day.

More intriguing is the escapement, which features a hacking, flying tourbillon. Beyond this unusual combination, the escape wheel and pallet are made of silicon and have been CVD-coated in IWC’s Diamond Shell coating to minimise surface friction. This, in part, explains how the watch achieves an 84-hour power reserve despite its relatively high-frequency, 4 Hz tourbillon.

And while the Portugieser 40, 42, and Chronograph make do with ordinary 18k rose gold cases, the Tourbillon Day & Night and Perpetual Calendar models benefit from IWC’s proprietary 18k “Armor Gold” alloy. This material looks like rose gold but the alloy has been hardened, making it more scratch resistant than regular gold.

Brands have increasingly turned to proprietary materials, including new gold alloys, in recent years as a way to differentiate from peers. Armor Gold does just that, and is well-suited to IWC’s range of watches which, due to their larger sizes, are more likely to get scratched during everyday wear.

Key facts and price

IWC Portugieser Automatic 40
Ref. IW358402 (white gold/Horizon Blue)
Ref. IW358401 (rose gold/Obsidian)

Diameter: 40.4 mm
Height: 12.4 mm
Material: 18k white or rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 82200
Features: Hours, minutes, and seconds
Frequency:  28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 60 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle

Limited edition: No
Price: CHF17,300 (rose gold) or CHF18,300 (white gold)

IWC Portugieser Automatic 42
Ref. IW501708 (white gold/Horizon Blue)
Ref. IW501707 (rose gold/Obsidian)
Ref. IW501705 (steel/Dune)
Ref. IW501701 (steel/Silver Moon)
Ref. IW501704 (steel/blue)

Diameter: 42.4 mm
Height: 13 mm
Material: Steel, white, or rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 52011
Features: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and power reserve
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 168 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp or steel bracelet

Limited edition: No
Price: CHF12,500 (steel), CHF13,500 (steel with bracelet), CHF25,000 (rose gold), or CHF26,000 (white gold)

IWC Portugieser Chronograph
Ref. IW371626 (white gold/Horizon Blue)
Ref. IW371625 (rose gold/Obsidian)
Ref. IW371624 (steel/Dune)

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 13.1 mm
Material: Steel, white, or rose gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: Cal. 69355
Features: Hours, minutes, sub-seconds, and chronograph
Frequency:  28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 46 hours

Strap: Alligator with pin buckle, or folding clasp for Ref. IW371624

Limited edition: No
Price: CHF8,200 (steel), CHF18,000 (rose gold), or CHF19,000 (white gold)

IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Day & Night
Ref. IW545901

Diameter: 42.4 mm
Height: 10.8 mm
Material: 18k Armor Gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 60 m

Movement: Cal. 81925
Features: Hours, minutes, 60-second tourbillon, and day/night indicator
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Manual
Power reserve: 84 hours

Strap: Alligator with 18k Armor Gold folding clasp

Limited edition: No
Price: CHF80,000

IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44
Ref. IW503703 (white gold/Horizon Blue)
Ref. IW503704 (white gold/Dune)
Ref. IW503702 (Armor Gold/Obsidian)
Ref. IW503701 (Armor Gold/Silver Moon)

Diameter: 44.4 mm
Height: 14.9 mm
Material: 18k white or Armor Gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 50 m

Movement: Cal. 52616
Features: Hours, minutes, moonphase, perpetual calendar, and power reserve
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 168 hours

Strap: Alligator with folding clasp

Limited edition: No
Price: CHF45,000 (Armor Gold) or CHF46,000 (white gold)

For more, visit IWC.com.


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