Don’t know about you, but when I think of modern perpetual calendar-equipped watches, I think of the IWC Portugieser. In a way, it has been the reference with its universal, yet recognizable layout and superb, pusher-free utility. For 2024, the IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44 watch collection debuts with four references, in fully redesigned cases in 18k “armor gold” or 18k white gold, with four distinctly different dial colors, and seven days of power reserve, to boot.

I mean, just look at it. Irrespective of whether one likes the Portugieser — and perpetual watches in general — or not, it oozes bedroom wall poster levels of confidence, as though it tried to be the definitive benchmark of what a luxury perpetual calendar watch is today. The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44 is a beastly watch, measuring 44 (actually, 44.4) millimeters wide and 14.9mm thick. On that note, I wish more brands would include the case diameter in their product names.

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IWC says it reworked the case, and by that, they certainly mean the bezel and the crystals, and less so the polished, wide lugs or the brushed, steep profile. The bezels are extremely thin, tall, concave, and high-polished, doing their utmost to reduce the apparent diameter of the new Portugieser Perpetual 44 and, dare I say, introduce some positively old-school proportions. Overall, it is a beautiful, imposing, yet rather simplistic design — which should be the ars poetica of IWC design.

The four new versions are Ref. IW503702 in Obsidian over 18k 5N Armor Gold®, Ref. IW503701 in Silver Moon over 18k 5N Armor Gold®, Ref. IW503704 in Dune over 18k white gold, and Ref. IW503703 in Horizon Blue over 18k white gold – listed clockwise from the gallery above. They all have screw-down crowns, sapphire crystals on the front and back — double-boxed on the front with anti-reflective coatings on both sides — and a 5 bar (50m equivalent) water-resistance rating.

Having seen these hands-on already — a report with live pictures is to come once you all have time to actually read it after Watches & Wonders 2024 — we can report that the dials are beautifully made and every one of them offers a mighty tempting color palette. A solid case could be made for each of them. The applied hour markers, the stunningly beautiful leaf-shaped hands (curved in every direction), and the color coordination of the four-digit year indicator discs all play their part in creating a lasting overall impression. That’s the least one would expect for this sort of money — alas, it isn’t what one always receives.

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For 2024, the IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44 watch collection is powered by the IWC-manufactured Calibre 52616 that runs at a modern 4Hz frequency over the course of an extended 7-day power reserve replenished by an absolutely massive oscillating weight and a Pellaton self-winding system with ceramic parts for bi-directional operation. This isn’t your petit base caliber fitted with a perpetual module: It’s a huge movement that fills this 44.4mm wide case just about completely. Its complications include a perpetual calendar with displays for the date, day, month, and year in four digits, and perpetual moonphase for the Northern and Southern hemispheres, and a small hacking seconds.

The Portugieser Perpetual only needed a gentle nudge, really, as it is as complete a package as it gets — although a smaller (much smaller) version would be nice to have, in the future. An imposing, but not overwhelming display of superb quality and an acceptably robust-looking case render this a solid contender in the high-five-figure-priced segment of perpetual calendar watches — if you have the wrist to yield it. The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44 watch is priced at $46,500 in its 18k 5N Armor Gold® versions and $47,500 USD in 18k white gold. You can learn more at the brand’s website.

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