IWC has had a recent flurry of activity – from updating its Portugieser chronograph to a spate of new Pilot watches including a limited edition tribute. The brand has also introduced two of its Portugieser watches, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph and the IWC Portugieser Automatic in new blue dial variants with stainless steel cases. With the trend firmly established across the industry, core collections and popular models getting a blue dial is an easy way for brands to offer something fresh.
The dark blue dials have a sunburst finish and the double sub-dial design further makes them look similar at a glance. The stainless steel case – like previous Portugieser watches – is restrained but casual in design with traditional tapered lugs and a thin bezel. The Portugieser Automatic is the larger of the pair with a 42.3mm bezel and a double stepped case. It is also equipped with a larger fluted crown – but similar in design to the Portugieser Chronograph that has a 40.9mm case. Usually, we’d expect the chronograph version to be bigger than its time-only counterpart.
Rated to 30m of water resistance, each of the new IWC Portugieser watches is best suited for daily office wear (if the design and the presence of an alligator strap didn’t give that away already). While the Automatic is equipped with a display back, the Chronograph is not, and I’ll get into why shortly.
Going back to the dial, both watches have applied Arabic markers and polished, rhodium plated leaf shaped hands which complement the case quite well. The Automatic has a sub-dial at 3:00 that indicates power reserve and another sub-dial at 9:00 for continuous seconds. The date window at 6:00 is hard to miss with its white date wheel standing out against the blue dial. I understand that it is difficult to match a date wheel to a sunburst dial, but it is not impossible, and at this price point, many will want that. The date display is regrettable, in my opinion, and actually detracts from what I find to be another handsome, appealing watch.
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph has the 30-minute chronograph counter at 12:00 and the continuous seconds at 6:00. Thankfully, we are spared the date window here. If you’re a fan of the newest IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic released a little while ago, you’ll notice that this blue dialed sibling does not have the unique minute and hour totalizer at 12:00. This, combined with the steel caseback is a sign that IWC has defaulted to its Valjoux 7750-derived caliber 79350. This is a strange and frankly disappointing choice given the excellent in-house caliber 89361 they have available.
The caliber 79350, as a modified Valjoux 7750, is a competent movement and offers 42 hours of power reserve at 28,800bph, but it is more of a tool watch movement. What makes this choice even more perplexing is that the IWC Portugieser Automatic is powered by the caliber 52010, which is an IWC in-house design that offers 7 days of power reserve via two barrels, operating at 28,800bph. As a rule of thumb, if a brand launches a time-only and a chronograph together within the same line, then I expect the movements to be of a similar provenance and for the chronograph to be priced higher.
The good news for those who enjoy the Portugieser look but were put off by the price tag for the in-house chrono movement, is that this blue dialed, 7750-powered sibling is nearly half the price. Both these watches will be regular production and available through all retailers, boutiques, and IWC’s newly revamped e-store. The new IWC Portugieser Automatic (Ref. IW500710) and Portugieser Chronograph (Ref. IW371491) come with an alligator strap for $12,700 and $6,900, respectively. iwc.com