The Portofino Family

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THE TIMELESS APPEAL OF THE MEDITERRANEAN LIFESTYLE

In the 1950s, Hollywood greats like Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor and Humphrey Bogart discovered the idyllic fishing village of Portofino on the Ligurian coast for themselves – and, with it, a taste for the easy-going Mediterranean lifestyle. You simply took a seat in one of the cafés at the piazzetta next to the harbour, sipped espresso and watched the boats arrive. For the paparazzi the little houses in red and terracotta, clustered tightly around the picturesque natural harbour, provided the perfect backdrop for stars and celebrities. In the 1960s, the village teemed with celebrities as Italian cinema enjoyed its most glorious epoch. Its glamour was underlined by the presence of actresses such as Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale, as well as scores of famous directors and artists. Even today, the Italian and international jet set gather in Portofino to savour the atmosphere of the Mediterranean dolce vita.

Good things come in threes – especially hands. For many
years, this has been the motto for the Portofino Automatic
—Time moves on. Only in Portofino does it stand still

—Photographer Peter Lindbergh knows, first-hand, the captivating allure of Portofino. His photos capture the cool Mediterranean vibe

See Lindbergh's Photos from Portofino

The classically elegant Portofino watch family reflects this attitude towards life. For more than a quarter of a century, it has been the unassuming star of the IWC collections, an expression of understatement and good taste.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, mass-produced watches with quartz movements and ever more unconventional design watches were dominating the market. Nevertheless, IWC noticed that there was still a steady demand for more classical models. These watches had to be reliable, retain their value and remain stylish, without being part of a fashion trend. The visual concept for the new watch family came from timeless watches like the Reference 380 of the 1950s, whose purist-inspired, functional lines largely determined the basic design of the Portofino watch line.

—The Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days features a fine alligator leather strap from the world-renowned shoe manufacturer Santoni

The Reference 5251 was the inspiration for the Portofino line. In 1984, it surpassed all the trends prevailing at the time and – with its 46-millimetre case – was not easy to miss. Its clearly defined proportions, original design and small production run have ensured that the original Portofino is a much sought-after rarity among collectors today.

In 1988, to mark its 120th anniversary, IWC unveiled the Reference 2532, an elegant, consummately designed timepiece in a gold case with Roman numerals. That same year saw the appearance of the Portofino Reference 3731 with the hybrid 631-calibre movement. Although the chronograph consisted of 233 parts, the height of the movement was just 3.8 millimetres – a stroke of genius. In 1993, IWC presented the Portofino Hand-Wound, with a movement just 1.85 millimetres thick. The slimmest of all IWC watches, it was sold successfully until 2005. In 2007, the watch family was expanded to include a mechanical chronograph.

Portofino Chronograph

—Reference 3910

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—Photo by Peter Lindbergh

Time moves on. Only in Portofino does it stand still. When dark clouds shroud the bay,
the place takes on an air of mystery

—Peter Lindbergh

In 2011, the year of the Portofino, fans of this traditional watch family took pleasure in the launch of revised as well as newly developed watch models. With its IWC-manufactured 59210-calibre movement, the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days impressively scaled the Mount Olympus of haute horlogerie. The stainless-steel versions of the Portofino Automatic and Chronograph are likewise available with a Milanaise mesh bracelet in stainless steel in the elegant style of the 1960s.

This year, the IWC-manufactured, 8-day 59000-calibre family has been extended: thanks to the new 59230 calibre, the Portofino watch family now also includes a model with a big date display.

Portofino Big Date corner IW5161
PORTOFINO HAND-WOUND BIG DATE

—Reference 5161

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