September 7, 2022
First introduced in 1984 and named after the picturesque tourist destination located on the Italian coast, the IWC Portofino occupies the role of being the brand’s refined and elegant dress watch. According to legend, the idea for the Portofino was created after IWC’s head watchmaker Kurt Klaus and head designer Hanno Burtscher had a glass of wine and decided to turn a lépine moonphase pocket watch into a wristwatch by attaching lugs to the side of the case. Since first making an appearance, the Portofino collection has played an integral part of IWC’s catalog, and the latest additions to the IWC Portofino lineup consist of a handful of different models in both 34mm and 37mm cases, which further expand the brand’s collection of refined dress watches and allows it to appeal to an even wider range of potential buyers.
The cases of the new IWC Portofino watches are offered in either stainless steel or 18k 5N rose gold, with the 34mm models coming in at 8.7mm or 8.9mm-thick (depending on the specific bezel configuration), while the 37mm options measure 9.4mm-thick for the standard three-handed models or 11.3mm-thick for the version fitted with a moonphase complication. Despite their differences, all of the various models feature the same classic round case shape with convex sapphire crystals above their dials and push/pull winding crowns at the 3 o’clock location, which offer access to their movements and help provide them with 50 meters of water resistance. While all of the different 34mm models feature solid casebacks attached by four small screws, the 37mm versions include sapphire display windows in their casebacks, which offer a view of their in-house movements. Although the standard configuration for the IWC Portofino features a simple, smooth fixed bezel, select models from the new 34mm and 37mm lineups are also available with diamond-set bezels, which further add to their refined case designs and offer a decidedly luxurious overall appearance.
While diamonds are optional on the bezel, they are mandatory when it comes to all of the dials fitted to the new 34mm and 37mm IWC Portofino watches. Although the standard three-handed models feature the collection’s signature elongated Roman numeral hour markers at the 12 and 6 o’clock locations, all twelve of the markers include a small diamond that is set on the outside of their periphery within the minute track. This applies to all of the 34mm models, including the Day & Night version that swaps out the Roman numeral on the lower half of its dial for a day/night indicator that is displayed by a stylized rotating disc. Dial color options for the 34mm models include green, silver, and blue; however, the green dial is only available on the time-only version and not on the Day & Night edition.
For the 37mm IWC Portofino watches, dial colors include green, slate, and silver, although the Portofino Moon Phase 37 model is exclusively offered with a silver dial and omits the Roman numeral at 12 o’clock, replacing it with a traditional moonphase display. Similar to the 34mm models, all of the dials for the 37mm watches feature 12 diamonds set into their minute tracks, and they also gain the addition of a date window at the 3 o’clock location. For most of the new IWC Portofino models, the finish on the hands and hour markers corresponds with the material of the case, meaning that the 18k gold models receive matching gold-plated components, while the stainless steel versions have rhodium-plated hands and markers. With that in mind, one of the 34mm time-only models pairs gold-finished dial furniture with a stainless steel case for a slightly warmer and more retro-inspired overall appearance.
Powering the two time-only versions of the IWC Portofino 34 is the brand’s Caliber 35100 movement, while the Day & Night model receives the Caliber 35180. Both self-winding winding movements are based on the Sellita SW300-1 and therefore run at a frequency of 28,800vph with the Cal. 35100 offering users a power reserve of approximately 42 hours, while the Cal. 35180 sees a small increase in autonomy with a 50-hour power reserve. Conversely, the IWC Portofino 37 models are all powered by in-house automatic movements from the brand’s 32000 series and therefore all of them offer users a 5-day (120-hour) power reserve. The standard three-handed time and date models receive the Caliber 32111, while the Moon Phase 37 edition is fitted with the Caliber 32800. Both in-house IWC movements run at a frequency of 28,800vph and are nicely finished with perlage, blued screws, Geneva stripes, and gold-plated skeletonized oscillating weights.
When it comes to strap and bracelet options, most of the new IWC Portofino watches (including all of the 18k gold models) are fitted with two-piece straps made from fully traceable Swiss calf leather that is fitted with butterfly-style folding clasps. That said, certain stainless steel models in both case sizes also feature matching 5-link bracelets that are finished with contrasting brushed and polished surfaces. Color options for the leather straps include black, blue, beige, taupe, and green, and each one is intended to complement the dial of the watch paired with it. Regardless of the specific style or color, all of the various straps and bracelets for the new 34mm and 37mm IWC Portofino watches feature a quick-release springboard at the lugs, which enables easy tool-free strap changes.
When it comes to official retail pricing, the new IWC Portofino watches cost right around the same as the existing models, with the 34mm version starting out at $5,450 USD for the simple three-handed stainless steel model on a leather strap, while the price of entry for the 37mm time-and-date version fitted with an in-house movement is $6,250 USD. Naturally, prices increase depending on materials and features, and they can reach all the way up to well over $20k should you opt for one of the solid rose gold Portofino Moon Phase 37 models that are fitted with a diamond bezel. Given that IWC is typically one of the first names that come up in any discussion surrounding pilot’s watches, it’s always nice to see other IWC collections also receive some attention. While some additional dial options without diamond-set hour markers would likely have expanded the widespread appeal of the new models, the minor increase in price being asked for the updated 37mm models with in-house movements is fairly reasonable considering the significantly longer power reserve that they offer compared to their predecessors. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.