February 10, 2023
by David Bredan
The complete calendar, or full calendar, has been quite the theme lately. The latest to join the growing pack of luxury watches that display not just the time and date, but also the day of the week, the month, and the phase of the moon, is the IWC Portofino Complete Calendar watch that debuts in 18k 5N gold and in stainless steel, accompanied by the IWC Portofino Automatic Pointer Date.
It is important to know that a complete calendar is not an annual calendar or perpetual calendar. The annual calendar is programmed to automatically adjust for 30-day months and advance to the 1st of the next month, while the perpetual calendar extends this functionality by keeping track of 28-day and 29-day Februarys, as well — again, automatically jumping to the 1st of March at the correct time. By contrast, what renders a complete calendar “complete” is the inclusion of all major calendar displays — date, day, month, and phase of the moon.
The IWC Portofino Complete Calendar watch incorporates these in a highly elegant fashion, with just two subdials, each of which contains two displays. The phase of the moon and day of the week can be read just below 12 o’clock — where some will certainly be bothered by the cutoff in the “XII” hour marker — while the date and month are shown in the lower subdial. The Portofino is the prime dress watch option of IWC, and, as such, it is an understated and elegant design (known to respond poorly to the introduction of a bevy of new functionality). With an established history of calculated designs in its portfolio, like the much-loved Portuguese Chronograph of the 2000s (that has since then been renamed Portugieser), and, of course, the long-standing Portofino collection itself, we could reasonably expect IWC to get this right.
The leaf-shaped hands and the straight hour markers make for a surprisingly powerful combination, as does that of a wide dial and slim bezel. The balance is perfected by the Automatic and IWC Schaffhausen texts on the 9 and 3 o’clock axis, while a touch of blue in the central seconds hand and phase of the moon disk add versatility and some much-needed color to the mix. Both the 18k 5N gold and the stainless steel-cased variant of the IWC Portofino Complete Calendar watch measure 41mm-wide and 11.8mm-thick, so a bit on the thicker side as a result of the modular construction of the movement.
Revealed by a sapphire crystal caseback, the IWC Portofino Complete Calendar is powered by the IWC-manufactured caliber 32150. It is a modern automatic movement that operates at 4Hz frequency over the course of an extended 72-hour power reserve, rewound by a pawl winding system. Water resistance is rated at 50m (150ft) — if its looks did not suffice as a reminder, then the calfskin straps wrapping around your wrist and the two corrector pushers set into the side of the case should tell you that this is not a sports watch by any stretch of the imagination — and that’s all good.
The Portofino watch collection is also extended by the IWC Portofino Automatic Pointer Date, a 39mm-wide version that shaves off a millimeter from overall thickness to 10.8mm and comes with a solid as opposed to transparent caseback. It also does away with the majority of additional indications and all that remains is a pointer date — a classy-looking rendition of the date, sure, but certainly not the easiest to read unless you have excellent near-sight and very steady hands. In our experience, images tend to lend an exaggerated and magnified look to the finer details in watches, and these tiny displays are certainly no exception.
The IWC Portofino Complete Calendar joins a pack of full calendar and complete calendar watches in the Richemont stable — Cartier, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Vacheron Constantin, Baume & Mercier, Montblanc, and now IWC all currently offer this generally still rather rare complication — and provides unquestionably the most elegant presentation of them all. The IWC Portofino Complete Calendar watch in 18k 5N gold (reference IW359002) is priced at 20,500 Swiss francs, while the IWC Portofino Complete Calendar watch in stainless steel (reference IW359001) is priced at 10,500 Swiss francs, and the IWC Portofino Automatic Pointer Date (reference IW359201) is priced at 5,400 Swiss francs. The prices include VAT, and all watches are eligible for registration under the “My IWC” care program that offers a 6-year extension to the standard 2-year International Limited Warranty. You can learn more at the brand’s website.