In the late 1930s, IWC tried to develop further its business in various markets. During that time a wholesaler from Lisbon, Portugal, believed to be Messrs. Rodrigues and Antonio Teixeira, approached IWC. The demand of the Portuguese market was not only for pocket watches and women’s dress watches, but also for men’s wristwatches with the precision of marine chronometers. At that time, IWC was able to offer their customers from Portugal a watch that completely fulfilled that latter request.
That watch, though, initially did not have a name, nor even a reference number. A review of case numbers in IWC’s records only revealed a denomination for the case model: “Mod. 228”. Some early examples of this wristwatch had this number 228 engraved on the inside case back.
IWC’s administration must have equally confused by this case number designation without a reference number. Consequently, someone at the manufacture started using the term that would become later highly noted: “Reference 325”. It is this number which designates the model of the original “Portuguese” wristwatch, even though that model was never shown in any IWC catalog.
Equally as paradoxical, the first Portuguese wristwatch was delivered not to Portugal but instead to another country. A review of IWC’s sales records reveals that the first delivery was made on 22 February 1939 to a Ukrainian watch wholesaler, L. Schwarcz in Odessa.
The first Portuguese wristwatches arrived in Portugal three years’ later. Those deliveries occurred on 2 February 1942 to Portuguese wholesaler Pacheco and on 17 June 1942 to Rodrigues & Gonçalves in Lisbon.
There is no definitive explanation for the gap between the visit of Messrs. Rodrigues and Teixeira and the delivery to Portugal of the first Portuguese wristwatches, now known as Reference 325. Perhaps one should consider that during the Second World War Portugal declared its neutrality, and regular trade links from neutral, landlocked Switzerland was often hindered. Therefore deliveries to Portugal often failed to arrive punctually and were sometimes seriously delayed. The time - when these watches were launched - was anything but auspicious: from 1 September 1939 to 8 May 1945 Europe was a continent torn apart.