Date — 17 January, 2011
For more than a quarter of a century now, the Portofino watch family has held a firm place in the collection from IWC Schaffhausen. It is not only the entry-level model to the exclusive world of IWC watches, but also the epitome of a classical wristwatch for individuals with style. In the same way that the picturesque harbour town of Portofino stands for the dolce vita of the 1960s, Portofino watches are a combination of rare beauty and simple elegance.
Portofino attracts them all: musicians and millionaires, actors and aesthetes. Back as early as the 1950s, when elegant men’s watches from Schaffhausen were already taking the world by storm, celebrities like Maria Callas or film stars like Ingrid Bergmann and Clark Gable had already discovered the natural beauty of the small harbour town. A decade later, in the 1960s, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton relaxed there during breaks from filming “Cleopatra” in Rome. Even one-time American First Lady Jackie Kennedy used to feel very much at home on the peninsula on the Ligurian coast. The unique combination of beautiful landscape with the easy-going Mediterranean way of life has made Portofino a magnet for people with a finely developed sense of aesthetics. Small wonder, then, that many prominent friends of the brand were delighted to receive an invitation from IWC and the legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh to a shoot in Portofino in summer 2010. The results of this extraordinary get-together, in which Lindbergh used his famous subjects to resurrect the spirit of the sixties, will be seen soon as part of an unusual traveling exhibition that goes on the road during the year of the Portofino collection and stops at some of the biggest venues around the world.
In its own perfect and inimitable way, it successfully blended a rare beauty with simple elegance
It was not without reason, then, that the picturesque little harbour town inspired the name of a watch family without which the collection from IWC Schaffhausen would be unthinkable. When the first Portofino watch from Schaffhausen took the world by storm in 1984, it was the result of a happy union between the pocket watch and wristwatch. In its own perfect and inimitable way, it successfully blended a rare beauty with simple elegance. In other words: Mediterranean lifestyle sculpted for your wrist.
Sporting a diameter of 46 millimetres, the original Portofino with moon phase display (Ref. 5251), powered by the slim 9521 pocket watch calibre, was something of an attention-grabber. Despite this, with its reduced, uncluttered design, it was the essence of simplicity. This particular style goes back to the classical men’s watches from IWC that had become so enormously popular in the 1950s and later continued their success by the name of Portofino. IWC Schaffhausen has been making its Portofino models without interruption since 1984 and any modifications have been extremely understated. Its genealogy has always been unmistakable, as is clear from the Portofino Hand-Wound launched in 1993. The ongoing success of this watch family is conclusive proof that discreetly designed watches with classical forms, going way beyond shortlived fashion trends, will always be popular.
This also applies to the new Portofino collection which IWC Schaffhausen will be launching in 2011 and which consists of four models, each with its own individual character.
The least conspicuous way of wearing an IWC is the Portofino Automatic (Ref. 3565). For many years, its timeless exterior and reliable mechanical movement have assured it a place in the hearts of many watch devotees. Hours, minutes, seconds and a discreet date display, all powered by a solid mechanical automatic movement: the epitome of good taste, it needs no more. And in all likelihood it is precisely this expression of understatement that has enabled it, over the years, to become the unassuming star it is today. In 2011, the year of the Portofino collection, the classic model now comes in a 40-millimetre case which, thanks to a meticulous reworking of the design, makes the watch look even slimmer. Its shape, classical as ever, is reminiscent of the IWC models from the 1960s, without necessarily making it a retro design. The Portofino Automatic in red gold with its silverplated dial radiates understated luxury. Needless to say, the watch is also available in stainless steel with a choice of silver-coloured or black dials.
The Portofino Chronograph (Ref. 3910) is a perfect example of a design that works. The cumulative stopwatch elements have been so skilfully integrated that the simplicity, so typical of the Portofino family, is guaranteed. But unlike a car with ultra-wide tyres and big spoilers, the Portofino Chronograph doesn’t make an exhibition of its sports pedigree. If anything, it has the same exciting but, somehow, understated dynamism of an Italian sports car from the 1960s. In 2011, the Portofino Chronograph is even more finely balanced, with softer lines than ever before. The diameter has increased minimally by one millimetre to 42, while the more rounded contours of the case and gently flowing strap horns are very pleasing on the eye. They are complemented by slim chronograph push-buttons with eye-catching heads of the type you might find in the cockpit of an Italian sports car. The chronograph dial, too, looks equally restrained but is likewise perfectly functional. The cumulative stopwatch displays are joined by small seconds at “9 o’clock”, which elegantly counterbalances the day and date displays on the opposite side of the dial. The colour of the displays matches the colour of the dial in question. The buyer has a choice of a silver-plated or black dial in a stainless-steel case. The Portofino Chronograph is powered by the tried-and-tested 79320 calibre with a 44-hour power reserve and automatic winding with a ball-bearing rotor.
Both the Portofino Automatic and the Portofino Chronograph can be individualised with either a strap or bracelet. IWC now gives owners the option of a Milanese mesh bracelet like the ones so popular in the 1960s. As the name suggests, they were invented in Milan and are thus the perfect complement to watches that exude Italian lifestyle. A Milanese bracelet is robust and made of tightly woven wire mesh, which fits snugly and comfortably around the wrist. At one time, these bracelets were soldered directly onto the case, but in 2011, the year of the Portofino, the Milanese mesh bracelets as well as the fine leather straps are secured to the watch with spring bars. The Milanese mesh bracelets, incidentally, are available in three different lengths and can be adjusted to the width of the wearer’s wrist in five-millimetre stages, guaranteeing a perfect fit.
—A special patina and the wonderful gradation of colours are the hallmarks of leather goods from Santoni
Thanks mainly to its technological sophistication, the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days (Ref. 5101) has established itself as the flagship of the Portofino family. Its reputation is founded not so much on outward appearances but internal values: ticking away inside the case is the new IWC-manufactured movement from the 50000-calibre family. With its 37.8-millimetre diameter, the 59210 calibre is the same size as a pocket watch movement, but its design is incomparably more modern. The contemporary movement design, with its large bridges and plates, is highly robust and reliable, and designed to meet all the exacting demands of watch devotees in the 21st century. Despite its undisputed elegance, the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days is a watch designed for everyday use, not least because of its incredible stamina: it will run for precisely 192 hours – that’s 8 days – without any external help. Just how long the watch will continue to run before its owner needs to wind the movement can be read off from the power reserve display on the dial. IWC’s designers have remained true to the classical Portofino style, not only in the circular case with its smooth, flowing strap horns, but also in the design of the dial. The placing of the displays – small seconds at “6 o’clock”, date at “3 o’clock” and power reserve between “8” and “9” – ensures that the dial layout is finely balanced. The red gold Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days comes with a slate-coloured dial, which likewise features indices made of solid red gold. There is also a choice of two models in steel, with either a black or silver-plated dial.
The technique makes brand-new leather look as if it has already been lovingly cared for over a period of several years
Leather straps by quality Italian shoe manufacturers Santoni underscore the delicate Italian touch that runs throughout the Portofino collection. The Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days is secured to the owner’s wrist with these unusual straps, which are available in two different shades of brown and black. The renowned Italian shoemakers use a complex process to give some of their elegant men’s shoes a slight patina before they even leave the workshop. The technique makes brand-new leather look as if it has already been lovingly cared for over a period of several years. Apart from this attractive feature the straps, made by Santoni exclusively for IWC, also come with the characteristic colour gradations and orange leather lining typical of Santoni products. Top-quality Italian straps on top-quality watches that stand for the Italian dolce vita style: a highly successful combination. Particularly since Giuseppe Santoni, the second generation of his family to run the company, has been a fan and collector of IWC watches for many years.
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