For many fans of IWC Schaffhausen, size – big size – is an important issue, so it’s not surprising that the XXL 46mm Big Pilot is considered one of the brand’s flagship models. Realising that not everybody can pull off a 46mm wristwatch, IWC decided to offer the Big Pilot in a smaller 43mm case size last year. In a similar move, IWC revisited its vintage-inspired Portofino Chronograph in 2021, offering a new 39mm diameter. One of IWC’s dressier collections, the Portofino is named after the picturesque Italian fishing village on the Amalfi coast frequented by jet-setters. Following its debut in 1984, it was revamped with much fanfare in 2014 and today offers a selection of elegant, classically styled watches. The IWC Portofino chronograph, initially available in a 42mm case size, was revisited last year in a smaller 39mm diameter. As a partner of the “Laureus Sport for Good” charity and coinciding with the 2022 Laureus World Sports Awards held in Seville, Spain, IWC has produced a 1,000 piece edition of the 39mm Portofino Chronograph (ref. IW391408) with a signature “Laureus Blue” dial.
Laureus Sport for Good
The Laureus Sport for Good is a global organisation that believes in the transformative power of sport to empower and transform the lives of children and young people. Under the patronage of Nelson Mandela to “use sport as a powerful and cost-effective tool to help children and young people overcome violence, discrimination and disadvantage in their lives”, Laureus Sport for Good was founded in 2000 by Richemont and Daimler. Through their respective brands – Mercedes-Benz and IWC Schaffhausen – the organisation supports 250 sports programmes in more than 50 countries and has helped change the lives of more than six million children. Involved since 2006, IWC promotes the cause with its special editions. Last month, for example, IWC produced a full-blue ceramic case and dial version of its Pilot’s Watch Automatic for Laureus. Marking the 16th special edition for the charity, the Portofino Chronograph 39mm flies the blue flag of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.
Smaller case size
Offering a wider range of dimensions to cater to a wider diversity of wrist diameters is a smart move for a watchmaker but requires a detailed re-evaluation of all the elements. You can’t just shrink the size of a case and hope that the features on the dial will work. In fact, if you compare the 42mm (admittedly a more complex model with a day/date display and an additional third counter for the running seconds), you can see that the case reduction has been accompanied by a reduction in displays to produce a more balanced and more compact watch.
One of the most distinctive features of the Portofino Chronograph is the piston-style pushers that protrude from the right side of the case. Given the smaller case dimensions and the thinner case height (12.7mm compared to the 13.6mm of the 42mm), the vintage-style chronograph pushers and the short rounded lugs are more pronounced. The rounded case sides are brightly polished throughout and the sealed caseback is used as a canvas for an engraving of the winning entry from the drawing competition organised by IWC for the Laureus programme. The drawing was created by 15-year-old Jatin Malhan, a goalkeeper for a football club in Punjab, India.
The balanced horizontal layout of the counter, with the 30-min chronograph counter at noon and running seconds at 6 o’clock, creates more room on the blue sunray-brushed dial. Snailed interiors inside both the silver-framed counters contrast with the white markings and the bright red number 30 on the 30-minute counter and the red 60 on the running seconds. The elongated and elegant baton rhodium-plated baton markers are accompanied by two truncated Roman numerals at 12 and 6 o’clock, a signature feature of the Portofino family. Delicate leaf-shaped hands for the hours, minutes, small seconds and 30-min chronograph counter add a further touch of elegance to the chronograph. A peripheral minute/seconds track with white markings relies on the thin central chronograph hand that alights neatly on the track. In keeping with its dressier, more classic aesthetic, there is no luminous material on the dial.
Inside the 39mm Portofino Chronograph is IWC’s 79350 automatic chronograph calibre based on the Valjoux 7750. It runs at a frequency of 28,800vph (4Hz) and has 44 hours of power reserve. Although the closed caseback impedes a view, the movement features perlage and Côtes de Genève decorations.
AVAILABILITY AND PRICE
The IWC Portofino Chronograph 39 Edition “Laureus Sport for Good” (ref. IW391408) is a limited edition of 1,000 timepieces and is fitted with a black calfskin strap with a stainless steel buckle. The price is EUR 6,450 or CHF 6,600.
For more information, please consult IWC.com.