This year at IWC Schaffhausen the iconic Portugieser family is in the spotlight. One of the novelties is the IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42. Smaller in size with a simpler layout of the calendar information, the new Perpetual Calendar 42 is a toned-down, more moderate and less expensive younger brother of the existing 44mm Perpetual Calendar. Still fitted with Kurt Klaus’s ingenious perpetual calendar module, the movement is a more compact, robust automatic derived from IWC’s 82000 calibre family. We have been lucky enough to enjoy some hands-on time with these two new models (steel and rose gold with silver dials) just ahead of the ‘virtual’ launch of Richemont Group’s novelties today.
Kurt Klaus’ Perpetual Calendar
In the early 1980s, Kurt Klaus set out to translate the Gregorian calendar with its many irregularities into a mechanical programme for a wristwatch. His ingenious perpetual calendar, which debuted in the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar in 1985, comprises only about 80 parts and displays the date, day, month, year in four digits, and the moon phase. The smart mechanical programme automatically recognises the different length of the months, and even adds a leap day at the end of February every four years. The moon phase display is so precise that it will deviate from the actual phase of the Moon by just one day after 577.5 years. All displays are perfectly synchronised and can be adjusted simply by turning the crown, making the watch extremely user-friendly. Constantly improved over the years, the calendar complication will only need one correction in 2100. (If you want to know why 2100 is an anomaly, don’t miss our article on Leap Years.)
Trimmer, slightly slimmer
Those of you familiar with the existing 44mm Perpetual Calendar will notice quite a few differences. For starters, the size of the case has been reduced to 42.4mm and its height of 13.8mm is slightly slimmer than the 14.9mm case thickness of the 44mm model. Presented in polished and brushed 18k 5N rose gold and steel cases, the caseback has a sapphire crystal window to display the movement. Although its size as a dress watch might raise eyebrows among purists, you have to remember that the spirit of the Portugieser has always played on the large dimensions of its ancestor.
A more straightforward, cleaner display
All the genetic traits of the Portugieser have been respected: there is the hallmark railway track chapter ring on the periphery, the elegant applied Arabic numerals, the slim feuille hands and the clean, amenable layout of the elements against the silver-plated dial. With just three sub-dials instead of four, the layout of the perpetual calendar functions here is even more legible than its bigger brother. Incidentally, the hands and applied numerals are all gold-plated.
The first obvious difference is that the moon phase counter has been relocated from 12 to 6 o’clock, incorporated inside the disc corresponding to the months and allowing for a handsome swathe of empty space at the top. A highly accurate perpetual moon phase indicator, it only deviates from the actual orbit of the Moon by one day after 577.5 years.
Another striking change is that the small seconds at 9 o’clock have been replaced with a central seconds hand and the four-digit year function is gone. The days of the week are located at 9 o’clock with a small aperture for the leap year; the date is at 3 and the month and moon phase are at 6 o’clock. Kurt Klaus’ perpetual calendar is also one of the simplest perpetual calendars to operate, all the displays can be synchronized and adjusted via the crown.
And a simpler in-house movement
The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 does not run on the same engine as the 44.2mm with its twin barrels, mighty 7-day power reserve and solid gold rotor. Here the simpler yet robust and reliable in-house 82000 calibre family has been chosen as the base for the perpetual calendar module developed by Kurt Klaus. Fitted with the highly efficient Pellaton automatic winding system, the IWC calibre 82000 family has components made of zirconium oxide ceramic – pawls, cam and automatic wheel – that are virtually wear-free. The in-house calibre 82650, which you can see through the sapphire crystal, has a skeletonised rotor and touches of circular graining on the plates and Geneva stripes on the bridges. The movement oscillates at 28,800vph and has a power reserve of 60 hours.
Straps and Prices
The stainless steel IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42 is fitted with a black alligator strap by Santoni while the rose gold model comes with a brown alligator strap. There is another model in the new line-up, also in rose gold but with a blue dial which we did not have for our hands-on session. The steel model (IW344203) will retail for CHF 23,000 or EUR 22,550 and the gold model (IW344202) for CHF 33,000 or EUR 32,350. For more information, please visit iwc.com.