As far as I am concerned the "lost" IWC watch model is the Portofino. Yes, they still made the watch - in at least a few varieties - but you never hear about it. Perhaps this is a function of myself being in the US, but I have yet to see real marketing for the Portofino. It isn't a bad timepiece at all. Over time the IWC Portofino watch has changed, but right here is the basic, entry level Portofino model. There is also a chronograph version in production. In my opinion, the Portofino is the basic, entry level "formal" watch from IWC. It sits close in theme to the Portuguese, but is different. This is a nice watch, but not meant to be a modern watch. It is from a more simple time, when a good watch was easy on the eyes, and drew credibility from a good name on the dial.
And there it is, those three letters that are world-know to signify good quality from Schaffhausen - of the only text on the dial. I first really became aware of the Portofino as a good looking classy watch while spending time at IWC's manufacture. I was there for a press event and sitting next to famous Brazilian author Paulo Coelho during a group interview. He happened to be wearing a steel Portofino with a black dial. The 39mm wide watch was worn a bit loosely on his wrist and seemed to epitomize a sort of "generic" good looking watch someone who isn't too into watches might like. That is in no way something negative about the design - but rather it seems to have a more mainstream appeal than some of IWC's more enthusiast oriented watches. Mr. Coelho has worked with IWC on a new book about the brands history - with Mr. Coelho contributing a series of stories inside of the book - making for a book within a book. More on that in another article. While any IWC watch could have been on his wrist, the very successful author opted for a Portofino.
Back in the 1970 and 80s for example, this type of watch style was very popular. A sort of minimalist design, it has features associated with traditional watch making in an elegant manner. The case is meant to emphasize the graceful roundness of the case, rather than masculine strength. This is evidenced by the simple, straight lugs. A more aggressive watch would have large, more serious looking lugs. The hands, almost leaf-like in shape, are purposeful without looking like sharp daggers. This watch points to the time as opposed to asserting the hour. Dial legibility is maintained via good color contrasts and easy to spot hour and minute indicators - plus, the sapphire crystal is doubly coated with AR for a really glare-free view of the face. Quality is enhanced by having each of the hour markers be applied. A date indicator window helps remind you that the watch is a tool, not just an experiment in minimalist design. All IWC watches feel like tools before anything else. Which I think is one of the reasons the brand is so popular world-wide.
Modest in size, the Portofino is 39mm wide and just 8.6mm thick. Prior to 2007, Portofino watches were a bit smaller at 38mm wide. So if you are looking for a piece, keep the year of production in mind when looking at the size. Overall, the size of the watch makes for a very easy to wear timepiece. The movement is the IWC Calibre 30110 automatic, which is a base ETA 2829-2 automatic (with seconds hacking). Being one of the less expensive IWC watches around, it doesn't have an in-house made movement like higher-end IWC watches. In addition to the steel cased version, there is a rose gold version as well (that is of course much more money). Unless you get a spectacular deal on a gold version, this is a watch that I recommend looking at in steel. The watch has an alligator strap in either brown of black. Retail price of the steel version is a reasonably $3,000 - and you can find it for a bit less online sometimes.