For Watches & Wonders 2020, IWC has taken the opportunity to drastically overhaul the cornerstone Portugieser lineup with a vast array of new models, variants, and colorways. While these new iterations range from the sedate to the dramatic, perhaps none of these models is as viscerally impressive as the limited-edition flagship IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph. Available in two separate colorways, this new model adds some true haute horlogerie complications to the classic Portugieser design.
The design of this new flagship begins with a hefty 43.5mm case measuring a full 16mm-thick. While this goes against some of the elegant aesthetic the Portugieser line has cultivated over the years, with a massively complicated movement it’s difficult to fault. This new case is available in IWC’s scratch-resistant 18k Armor Gold for the Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Boutique Edition, while the non-boutique Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph is cased in shining platinum. Both models are equipped with a sapphire display back, offering owners a view of the decorated movement at work.
The dials of the Boutique Edition and standard Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph take sharply different paths, but both begin with the classic Portugieser formula. The clean-polished leaf hands, railroad minutes track, and crisp applied numerals are all here, down to the distinctive cutout marker at 12 o’clock accommodating the chronograph subdial. From there, the new visual elements take center stage, dominated of course by the tourbillon at 6 o’clock. While the dial of an IWC Portugieser chronograph usually feels airy and spacious, the retrograde date at 9 o’clock and the combined 60-minute/12-hour chronograph subdial at 12 o’clock give this one a more compact look. The standard Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph keeps the look classically conservative with a sliver dial accented with applied platinum numerals and blued chronograph hands but with a dramatically different dial balance than most Portugieser models — the more theatrical navy blue sunburst and gold accents of the Boutique Edition are more fitting and attractive.
The IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph is powered by the in-house caliber 89900 automatic tourbillon flyback chronograph movement with retrograde date. Decorated with circular graining around the movement plates and an 18k gold skeleton rotor, this powerplant offers a hefty 68-hour power reserve along with its host of complications.
Both versions of the Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph are paired with an elegant blue strap by Santoni, with the standard model using alligator leather for a classic and dressy look, while the more dramatic Boutique Edition is mounted on a suitably striking woven leather model.
While only one part of IWC’s massive Portugieser campaign for Watches & Wonders 2020, the Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph may be the most impressive of the bunch. Both variants are limited to 50 examples each, with the IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph priced at 123,000 CHF and the IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph Boutique Edition receiving an MSRP of 105,000 CHF. For more information, please visit IWC’s website.