Date — 18 January, 2010
The Schaffhausen watch manufacturer IWC is celebrating one of its oldest-established watch families in 2010: the Portuguese watches enter their eighth decade. This will be the occasion for some fascinating novelties, such as the Portuguese Grande Complication, the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde or the Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph. These large format, mechanical precision instruments perpetuate the legacy of the famous seafarers to this day – and hand it down to today’s explorers.
“Heroes of the sea, noble race…”, runs the first line of the Portuguese national anthem. It is an expression of the collective memory, in which the great seafarers of Portugal are still very much alive to the present time – Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias or Fernando Magellan. And in 1934 Fernando Pessoa wrote his national epic “Mar Português – Portuguese Sea”, a homage to the spirit of discovery and heroic courage of the seafarers who made Portugal’s former international standing possible in the first place. Five years later, in 1939, IWC supplied the first Portuguese watches commissioned by two importers in Lisbon and Porto. These were oversized precision timepieces with pocket watch movements in the tradition of nautical instruments. They established a completely new type of watch in those days. Today these watches are a permanent feature of the horological identity of IWC and they are sought-after ambassadors of a watch culture at the highest level all over the world.
In 2010, the Portuguese watches from IWC are entering their eighth decade. They have remained entirely faithful to their historical heritage: clarity, size, accuracy and exquisite mechanics. Most of the complications from the Haute Horlogerie of IWC are present in this family of watches today. And there will be a few more in the “Year of the Portuguese”, which the Schaffhausen manufacturer is dedicating to its classic model. The horological inventiveness, which finds stylish expression in case diameters from more than 40 to 45 millimetres, is impressive: The Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph (Ref. 3902) not only revives the name of one of the most successful IWC watches of the last century. The new Yacht Club also introduces a generous pinch of sporting appeal into the Portuguese family – and in this way does justice to its legendary predecessor. It has been upgraded technically to make it the perfect companion for navigation and sailing: in the IWC-manufactured 89360-calibre movement, it has one of the most modern and robust chronograph movements on board – with a flyback function and analogue display of the long stop times via two hands on an inner dial. It is water-resistant to 6 bar and is the only Portuguese to have luminous hands and indices. Its large, clear dial makes it a perfect chronograph. It is available in steel with a black or silver-plated dial and in red gold with a slate-coloured dial and black registers.
Back to the roots: with this message the new Portuguese Hand-Wound (Ref. 5454) appeals to all those who are still fascinated by the original form and understatement of the Portuguese. And rightly so: in the IWC-manufactured 98295-calibre hand-wound movement it, too, has the technology of a classic pocket watch on board. Two variants in steel drawing closely on the original interpret the theme anew and with a breath of modernity: in the version with the black dial, this finds expression in a silver seconds scale with discreet red “60” marking. The model with a silver-plated dial differs from all the previous faces of the Portuguese watch through a grey counter for the small seconds and likewise red “60” marking.
After 20 years as an exclusive solitaire in the manufacturer’s range, the Grande Complication now makes its début in the red gold Portuguese case – as the Portuguese Grande Complication (Ref. 3774). With more room inside the 45 millimetres case, and for the first time water-resistant to 3 bar, the beautiful sound from its minute repeating mechanism nevertheless remains unchanged. A discreetly engraved globe and gold appliqués decorate the silver-plated dial. True to the tradition of the Grande Complication, a limited edition of fifty watches per year is retained. A new engraving on the case back depicts a sextant and makes the affiliation with the Portuguese family obvious.
The coveted Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère in two new, limited series in platinum and red gold with the retrograde date display is enhanced by an additional horological refinement, which also appears in the name of this novelty: Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde (Ref. 5044). A date indicator with a flyback function at the end of the month has been integrated into this exceptional watch for the first time. The role of the seconds display is performed by the cage of the minute tourbillon.
The Portuguese Tourbillon Hand-Wound (Ref. 5447) with its reduced overall height and the minute tourbillon at “9 o’clock” has undergone a subtle and attractive facelift: the signature of the founder of the company, F. A. Jones, on the dial opposite the tourbillon is a reference to the factory movement of the 98900-calibre family, which is evocative of the design of the first Jones calibres. This horological gem in red gold with a black dial is limited to 500 watches.
No other time machine approaches as close to the ideal of a perfect navigational instrument in the infinite ocean of time as a perpetual calendar from IWC. This is particularly true of the Portuguese Perpetual Calendar (Ref. 5021) with its autonomous perpetual calendar, complete year display, countdown function to the next full moon and a two-hemisphere moon phase display, which shows the age of the moon for the northern and southern hemispheres with record-breaking accuracy: with a deviation of only one day in 577 years. It is now available in warm red gold in the existing case size of 44.2 millimetres, and in a white gold case with a midnight blue dial. The Portuguese Perpetual Calendar (Reference 5023) with the traditional display of the moon phase is now also being manufactured in the same case size, in red gold with a silver-plated dial and in white gold with a slate-coloured dial.
Since 2009, the Portuguese Minute Repeater (Ref. 5449) with the new IWC-manufactured 98950-calibre movement in hunter style has chimed out the time in the most delightful way. Since then, it has also had the small seconds at “6 o’clock”. Each of the two variants in platinum and red gold is limited to 500 watches.
Occupying a position among the absolute classics of the watch family is the Portuguese Chronograph (Ref. 3714) with its 30-minutes counter and small seconds. This is very much a style icon, and its 40.9 millimetres case also makes it a good choice for male and female connoisseurs of normal sized watches. Since the end of 2009, it is also complemented by two variants in a red gold case, one with a slate-coloured dial and black inner dials, and one with a silver-plated dial, both with solid red gold appliqués.
The Portuguese Automatic (Ref. 5001) with the large, IWC-manufactured 51011-calibre movement and seven-day power reserve has also undergone a facelift. This watch, too, in its 42.3 millimetres case, is now offered in red gold instead of rose gold and has solid red gold appliqués. The steel variant now features a silver-plated dial and rose gold-plated hands and appliqués.
The “Year of the Portuguese” at IWC has begun. It is an appreciation of exquisite watches, but above all the eternal idea behind them: namely that man, driven by the spirit of discovery, explored methods for finding his bearings in order to achieve his ambitious targets. And that he ultimately mustered up the courage and placed himself in the greatest danger, in order to fulfil his desires and ambitions. The Portuguese watches from IWC are a symbol and a distant echo of those epic deeds, which took place 500 years ago. They still embody the spirit of discovery of bygone days. Most of all, though, the Portuguese watches are instruments of the modern age – as an aid to our own navigation through time.
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