August 15, 2017
by Kenny Yeo
IWC’s recent strategy has been to focus on refreshing a single collection each year. For 2017, that was the Da Vinci, but that is not to say that IWC has totally neglected its other collections. In fact, IWC has recently and quietly bolstered its Portofino collection with the new Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde watch. The Portofino collection is mostly made up of simple time-only watches, so the addition of a more complicated piece is much welcome.
For now, the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde is only available in an 18k red gold case. With dimensions of 45mm in diameter and 14.1mm in height, the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde is a rather large watch. The design of the case seems to closely follow that of the Portofino watches – a very classic design with slim-looking lugs and a thin bezel. The crown looks to be fairly beefy and large, which should be seen as a good thing since this is a manually wound watch. Water resistance is 30 meters.
The IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde has a silver-plated dial with gold leaf-shaped hands. The hours are marked by gold baton markers and there’s a simple minute track with every 5-minute marker clearly indicated with Arabic numerals. At 3 o’clock, there’s a handy power reserve indicator, and at 6 o’clock you have the exposed one-minute flying tourbillon. Finally, at 9 o’clock you have a retrograde date indicator.
The retrograde date indicator is pretty cool, but I have doubts about its practicality. It doesn’t look particularly legible to me as only the 3rd day of the month and thereafter every 4 days are marked by Arabic numerals – the rest of the days are marked by a simple track. As a result, if the date falls in between the ones marked by the Arabic numerals, some squinting could be necessary before one can make out the exact date.
The IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde is driven by the 59900 caliber, which is visible through the large sapphire crystal display case back. It looks to be quite nicely finished with open-worked bridges, beveled edges, Côtes de Genève, and perlage. One can also see the large mainspring which offers the movement a generous power reserve of 192 hours or 8 days. To improve efficiency, the pallet fork and escape wheels are made out of diamond-coated silicon.
However, the standout feature of the 59900 caliber has got to be its hacking tourbillon, which allows owners to easily set their watches to the second. Believe it or not, a stop-seconds mechanism for the tourbillon was only invented by A. Lange & Söhne in 2008, so tourbillon watches that hack are still relatively rare.
All in all, the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde looks like it will give fans of IWC’s Portofino collection the chance to pick up a relatively complicated watch. Though I can’t say that I’m a fan of the styling – my biggest problem is the legibility of the date indicator – the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde does have technical features that are admirable. It isn’t a limited edition piece, but IWC does say that it will be available only in small numbers because of its complexity. The IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Tourbillon Rétrograde is priced at $58,000. iwc.com