Hands-On – The Redesigned Edition of the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic was introduced in the middle of 2013 with little fanfare, long after the madness of the SIHH had subsided. The underlying idea was a more technical (new movement) but highly faithful take on a watch that has become a cornerstone in the collection (the design is heavily based on the Portugieser’s DNA). For 2017, this now-classic model receives a discreet facelift, focused on the essentials. Here is the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic 2017 Edition IWC3903.
The Portugieser model was introduced by International Watch Co. in the 1940’s, and was notable for its large diameter, exceptional legibility, applied Arabic numerals, railway-track-style chapter ring and characteristic ‘feuille‘ hands (or leaf hands in English). These key design traits are still visible in the current collection and are one the main reasons this watch is considered amongst the horological icons. A Portugieser is a Portugieser and is recognizable as such.
In addition to the famous Chronograph (equipped with a 7750, which is still in the catalogue), IWC introduced a second chronograph version in 2013, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic IW3904, with a greater focus on technical content and a style that was truly inspired by the 1940s. For 2017, without making too many changes to the extremely tasty recipe, IWC facelifts the model, with a focus on essential features.
Compared to the Ref. IW3904, the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic 2017 Edition IWC3903 won’t create a break in the lineage. In fact, only trained eyes will spot the differences, even with the two references next to each other. This facelift is subtle, and in all honesty, this is something that we’d like to see more often at IWC, which tends to create drastic changes in its collections. Here, the base remains the same. The case keeps the same dimensions (42mm diameter x 14mm thick) and the design is largely unchanged, meaning curved lugs, a rather thin convex bezel that allows for a large dial opening and the same mushroom pushers. As indicated by its name, this watch exudes “Classic” and remains perfectly in line with the rest of the Portugieser collection (for instance the Annual Calendar version, with which it shares many visual elements).
In fact, most of the work done by IWC on this IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic 2017 Edition IWC3903 consisted of removing the inessential elements and realigning this model with the rest of the collection. Previously, this Chronograph had rather large leaf hands, red accents on the chronograph registers and on the second-hand tip, and a 1/5th of a second ring on the periphery of the dial. These features are now gone, making this watch as clean as possible. The 2017 Edition IWC3903 features just a railroad minute track (no more seconds markings) with small applied rectangles, next to the signature applied Arabic numerals. Also, the leaf hands are now a bit slimmer and all the hands are uniform in material and color (no more red accents or blued seconds hand, as seen before). However, the display remains the same, with a small second at 6, a date at 3 and the very-IWC sub-counter at 12, for the elapsed hours and minutes.
No changes to note inside the case of this new IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic, which is still powered by the in-house calibre 89361. This automatic chronograph features all the modern delicacies, meaning a column-wheel, a vertical clutch, a flyback function, an integrated architecture, a 4Hz frequency and a comfortable power reserve of 68 hours. It is visible through the caseback and comes with a nice (yet machine-executed) decoration.
Three different versions will be available (replacing the four previous versions, gold / silver dial – gold / slate grey dial – steel / silver dial – steel / slate grey dial, in addition to the blue Laureus limited edition).
- Ref. IW390301 – 18k red gold case and appliqués, silver-plated dial, gold-plated hands, brown alligator leather strap – as photographed here
- Ref. IW390302 – Stainless-steel case, silver-plated dial, blue hands and appliqués, black alligator leather strap – not photographed here
- Ref. IW390303 – Stainless-steel case, blue dial, rhodium-plated hands and appliqués, black alligator leather strap – as photographed here, and close to the Laureus Limited edition
The new IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic 2017 Edition IWC3903 is now available in IWC boutiques and authorized retailers. Prices remain unchanged at EUR 11,900 in steel and EUR 22,800 in gold. More details on iwc.com.
Technical Specifications – IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic
- Case: 42mm diameter x 14mm thickness – Steel or 18k red gold – polished – sapphire crystal on both faces – 30m water resistant
- Movement: Calibre 89361, in-house – automatic – 4Hz frequency – 68h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date, flyback chronograph
- Strap: alligator leather strap
- References: IW390301 / IW390302 / IW390303
- Price: EUR 11,900 (steel) EUR 22,800 (Gold)
- Availability: May 2017