May 11, 2017
IWC has released an updated successor for the Portugieser Chronograph Classic, a watch well-known for its unique chronograph totalizer display, in-house movement, and sporty yet elegant design. The new reference 3903 replaces the reference 3904, with several subtle design changes and updates which help improve the overall aesthetic of the watch.
The Portugieser line (formerly called Portuguese) was considered to be large-sized watches when launched in the 1930s. However, at 42mm, the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic is about the median by today’s standards. Offered in either stainless steel or rose gold, the case is elegant with a touch of sportiness thanks to the broad, double-stepped case and round chronograph pushers. In addition, the watch is also available in two dial colors: silver and blue. Both dial colors are available in the stainless steel option but the rose-gold is only offered with a silver dial. While all three options work well, my personal favorite is the stainless steel with silver dial and the heat-blued hands.
The highlight of the watch is the in-house chronograph movement with chronograph hours and minutes displayed at 12 o’clock and including a flyback function. The caliber 89361 is part of the 89000 family of IWC movements, some of which are found in halo offerings such as the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. The calibre 89361 is manufactured in-house, offers a 68-hour power reserve, and can be seen in all its Geneva-striped glory through the display caseback. The skeletonized and decorated rotor also helps reveal as much of the chronograph mechanism as possible for the owner’s viewing pleasure.
On the dial side, we have a two-register layout with running seconds at 6 o’clock and, unique to this movement, a combined totalizer for chronograph hours and minutes at 12 o’clock. The familiar way of displaying the hours and minutes makes reading the elapsed chronograph time easier and more intuitive. In the images here, for example, the elapsed time would be 10 hours, 9 minutes, and 23 seconds. The dial is completed by a railway track chapter ring, date window, applied Arabic numeral indexes, and elegant minute and hour leaf-shaped hands.
The color of the indexes and hands differ and are designed to contrast with the dial color. The stainless-steel with silver dial has blue indexes with heat-blued steel hands, while the blue dial has polished steel hands with silver indexes. The rose-gold watch, of course, has gold hands and indexes. This is the most noticeable change from the predecessor which had silver indexes and hour and minute hands on a silver dial. This change is definitely an improvement and enhances the aesthetics and, more importantly, the legibility of the dial.
While the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic ships with an alligator leather strap, black for stainless steel variants and brown for rose-gold, it is likely to also pair well with more casual straps making it a versatile daily wearer that plays well with both formal and more casual attire.
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic watch is not an overhaul of its predecessor, but an update which brings more refinement and allows all the design elements to work together harmoniously. The IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic is now available for a price of $12,100 for both stainless steel variants and $20,100 for the rose gold variant. iwc.com