January 1, 2015
by Ariel Adams
We are pretty excited about this new IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar watch which debuts with the IW503501, IW503502, IW503504 references. For SIHH 2015, IWC will dedicate their focus the brand’s iconic Portuguese collection with a range of new models – even though until this point, the new watches that IWC has thus far announced are in the Portofino collection. This includes the new IWC Portofino Mid-Size for women as well as the attractive and simple IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Pure Classic watch. The only new actual Portuguese collection watch for 2015 that we’ve seen is the IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar, and it boasts an impressive new movement, dial layout, and perhaps some hints about where IWC is going in 2015.
One of the oddest parts of this watch has nothing to do with the design but rather the name. There are times that IWC has referred to the Portuguese as the Portugieser internally – but I don’t recall actually seeing it as being part of the official name of any of their products. For whatever reason, IWC has decided to call this watch the “Portugieser Annual Calendar,” versus the more logical “Portuguese Annual Calendar,” which would fit more into the rest of the naming of the Portuguese collection. I am sure there is a reason for this, but it is currently a bit of a mystery. Personally, I believe this might be perhaps a mistake, and eventually, the watch will be corrected to be called the Portuguese Annual Calendar – we will see.
What makes me happy is that the watch is both aesthetically and technically beautiful, and has IWC debuting a new movement. The brand commonly re-uses movements in a range of watches, instead preferring to play with colors, case designs, and dial details. All that is nice and good, but I like IWC at their best – which is doing something fascinating and technical. Here, we have an evolution on the caliber 52000 family of movements with the brand new IWC in-house made caliber 52850.
The 52850 builds on its family of calibers with not only an annual calendar complication, but a few other improvements and enhancements which IWC claims will make their way into other 52000 family movements. This includes a new automatic rotor design, and some aesthetic improvements to the movement. On top of operating at 4Hz (28,800 bph) with a long power reserve of 168 hours (7 days), the 52850 now has two versus one mainspring barrel. IWC claims that this is necessary to add additional torque which is required to move the various discs that display the calendar information. Of course, you also have the subsidiary seconds dial and power reserve indicator.
In all, I really like the layout of the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar dial which doesn’t fundamentally change the look of the Portuguese, but rather adds to it just a bit. Not only does it add an annual calendar display, but it adds a very easy to read and elegant to set the annual calendar complication system. A trio of windows are set next to each other under 12 o’clock, which read the month, date, and day of the week. This layout is done for technical reasons, and it turns out to be best for how Americans indicate the date. Ideally it would say the day of the week first, but I am not complaining at all. What isn’t necessary, in my opinion, is the statement “Annual Calendar” under the trio of windows. I understand that the brand likely tested the dial with and without this text, but it feels as though it doesn’t add anything to the overall composition – and that takes away just a bit from the overall sense of elegance.
Assuming the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar is like other new 2015 Portuguese models, we see a continuation of the beefier Portuguese case that IWC uses for most modern Portuguese models. See for example the aBlogtoWatch review of the IWC Portuguese Chronograph Classic watch here. I believe the smaller – more traditional case is reserved for those models which do not contain IWC in-house movements. It is unclear what the fate of those models is going to be, as brands like IWC are increasingly going in-house when it comes to their movements. If that is the case, we can assume the evolution to the IWC Portuguese watch family will be in style and movements rather than a serious design change.
Size-wise, large watch lovers will appreciate the IWC Portugieser’s 44.2mm wide case size. The case will be 15.3mm thick with a sapphire crystal exhibition caseback. Also note that the sapphire crystal over the dial will be domed, versus flat – which will add to the thickness just a bit more. I mentioned above that IWC designed the movement to be elegantly set. What I meant was that all the calendar and time correction/adjustment is done via the crown. That means no inset case pushers (a good thing in this instance). Assuming the watch remains running, how often will you need to adjust the calendar? As an annual calendar, this IWC will only need to be adjusted on leap years, as it is not able to take into consideration those years when February has 29 days. For the most part, I think annual calendars are the best bang for your buck, compared the typically much more expensive perpetual calendars.
With a series of attractive features and a stunning looking dial, I think the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar watch will be a big hit assuming IWC doesn’t charge too much for it. Then again, there aren’t too many other annual calendar watches quite like this. Let’s just hope the blue-dialed steel version proves to be very legible in person when we see it hands-on in a few weeks at SIHH 2015. With that said, the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar watch will debut with two steel models (the ref. IW503502 in steel with the midnight blue dial and the ref. IW503501 with the silver-plated dial) and an 18k red gold ref. IW503504 also with the silver-plated dial. Price for the IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar in steel will be $24,100 and in 18k red gold it will be $35,700. iwc.com
Portuguese Annual Calendar Tech specs from IWC
– Mechanical movement
– Pellaton automatic winding
– Power reserve display
– Annual calendar with displays for the date, day and month
– Small hacking seconds at 9 o’clock
– Glucydur® beryllium alloy indexless balance with high-precision adjustment screws on balance rim
– Breguet spring
– See-through sapphire-glass back
– Rotor with 18-carat gold medallion
– Movement: IWC-manufactured calibre 52850
– Frequency: 28,800 A/h / 4 Hz
– Jewels: 36
– Power reserve: 7 days (168 h)
– Winding: automatic
Ref. IW503501: case in stainless steel, silver-plated dial, black alligator leather strap, folding clasp in stainless steel
Ref. IW503502: case in stainless steel, midnight blue dial, black alligator leather strap, folding clasp in stainless steel
Ref. IW503504: case in 18-carat red gold, silver-plated dial, black alligator leather strap, folding clasp in 18-carat red gold
– Glass: sapphire, arched edge, antireflective coating on both sides
– Water-resistant: 3 bar
– Diameter: 44.2 mm
– Case height: 15.3 mm