IWC Portugieser

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IWC 75 Years Portugieser


This year, IWC Schaffhausen celebrates the 75th year of the Portugieser (Portuguese) watch family. Its colourful history reflects the development of the Schaffhausen-based watchmaking company into an internationally renowned luxury haute horlogerie brand.

In the late 1930s, two Portuguese businessmen ordered wristwatches with the precision of marine chronometers from the International Watch Co. At the time, the only way of providing the requested accuracy was by using a voluminous pocket watch calibre. This was the reason why IWC’s watchmakers selected the 74-calibre hunter pocket watch movement, which fortunately has the crown on the right-hand side, and housed it in a wristwatch case.

When the first “large wristwatch” left the factory, it was technically and aesthetically ahead of its time. Technically, because the high-quality pocket watch calibre had a larger balance, which set new standards in terms of precision for wristwatches. Aesthetically, because back then popular taste demanded dainty, wherever possible rectangular, watches in the art deco style. The eye-catching size, the purist dial and the simple round case of the pocket-watch-style wristwatch were decidedly not in keeping with contemporary ideals. By the early 1980s, only a few hundred of them had been produced. It was not until 1993 that the timepiece – now known as the Portugieser – was to celebrate a triumphant comeback.

Portugieser Automatic

Ref. 5007

IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar
—Portugieser Perpetual Calendar, Ref. 5033
Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph

Ref. 3905

In 1967, at the Swiss Watch Show in Basel, IWC presented the Yacht Club Automatic (Reference 811 A/AD). Back then, it had not yet joined the Portugieser family, but is still considered to be the predecessor of today’s Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph. It went on to become one of the company’s best-selling watches.

To mark IWC’s 125th anniversary in 1993, the Portugieser watch line was reborn. IWC produced a limited special edition under the name “Portugieser”. The anniversary edition (Reference 5441) established a new format for wristwatches that was to revolutionize the watch industry and still enjoys worldwide popularity to this day. In the following years, the Portugieser line continued to feature new and striking complications and scaled the peaks of haute horlogerie.

Portuguese Resized 01

In 2015, the Portugieser collection rolls out two new and six improved Portugieser models. One complication available for the first time from IWC is the annual calendar, to be found in the eponymous Portugieser. It has three separate, semicircular windows to show the month, date and day. Thanks to the new Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary”, the Portugieser watch family now includes a model featuring a large digital display for the date and month. Another feature that lends greater quality and value to the line is the newly developed in-house 52000-calibre family, which appears in four models. It has numerous technical improvements, which, among other things, ensure even greater accuracy. An increase in the number of ceramic components has minimized wear and tear in the Pellaton automatic winding system.

Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary”

Ref. 3972

In 2015, the Portugieser collection rolls out two new and six improved Portugieser models.

IWC 52000 Calibre Movement
—52610 Calibre
Portugieser - The Legend Among Icons

Learn more about the history of the Portugieser through the e-book

The slimmer proportions of the rotor and the inset medallion permit a more generous view of the technology and movements inside the case. The design and finish of the plates and bridges are also more attractive. In the big complications, the rotors and medallions are made of solid 18-carat red gold. These are complemented by blued screws, which are an indispensable characteristic of an exquisite in-house movement for many watch connoisseurs. The interplay of red jewels, blue screws and black ceramic elements with the red gold of the rotor conveys an overall impression of quality that is in keeping with an in-house movement of this kind.

Some of the models in the latest Portugieser collection are fitted with an arched-edge front glass, which makes the watches appear slimmer and underscores their classic elegance. The slightly curved strap horns, which are fashioned to match the contours of the case, ensure that the watch fits more comfortably even on a slimmer wrist. Some of the new references are fitted with luxurious alligator leather straps made by Santoni.

Explore the IWC Portugieser

Further Exploration

From the collection

Big Pilot's Watch Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry Marquee 01 Go
Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry

An engraving of his last aircraft, the Lightning P-38, embellishes the case back. For connoisseurs, the tobacco-coloured dial and calfskin strap with ...


IWC celebrates the 75th anniversary of an icon

In 2015, IWC Schaffhausen celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Portugieser: a genuine watchmaking icon steeped in tradition.


IWC 52000 Calibre Movement Go
IWC’s New
Proprietary 52000-Calibre

The newly developed 52000-calibre family, developed and produced in-house will feature numerous technical improvements.