Over the last few years, IWC has been steadily re-positioning its various collections in a decidedly upward direction. Most notably, the Portugieser has moved up a few rungs on the price list, whilst the Portifino now occupies the space this move created. Although at first this may not seem like great news for your wallet, it has resulted in the introduction of several interesting and attractive pieces into the Portofino range, including this gorgeous IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase. Today, we go hands on to find out what all the fuss is about.
When I first laid eyes on the new Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase (ref. 5164) earlier this year, I must admit I was impressed. Quietly introduced without much fanfare from the brand, it is a nice-looking watch that packs a lot of functionality into a rather understated design. In keeping with IWC’s Bauhaus aesthetic, the dial is well-balanced, with clear, easy to read font and indices and a focus on function leading form. Two different versions are available; steel case with a silver-plated dial and 18k red gold case with a slate grey dial.
The highlight is of course the gorgeous moon phase complication, shown at 12 o’clock, which has been integrated into the modern Portofino case for the first time. Extremely precise, it will only deviate from the actual moon by 1 day every 577.5 years. Admittedly largely irrelevant as a complication in today’s modern world, there is nonetheless something very aesthetically pleasing about a well-executed moon phase. Plus, it’s a nice throwback to the original Portofino, the Ref. 5251, which debuted in 1984 with a moon phase indicator at 3 o’clock. This new Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase pays homage to that original model, although it is not intended as a vintage reissue. Regardless, it is nice to see a moon phase complication back in the Portofino range in the classic case.
Balancing the moon phase indicator nicely at 6 o’clock is a sub-dial showing the small hacking seconds, with a characteristic ‘60’ in red at the top. It has a gold ring running around its circumference, which matches nicely with the gold hands and hour indices. At 9 o’clock there is a power reserve indicator, showing the remaining power left in the 8-day reserve and at 3 o’clock there is a date window with the date disc matching the color of the dial.
What may throw you a little about Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase however, is the size. Although it looks like a very classic and elegant dress watch in the photos, its case – available in stainless steel or 18k red gold – is the same as the classic Portofino models. That means 45mm in diameter and, in this version, 13.2mm thick (which is approx. 1.5mm thicker than the base model due to the addition of the moon phase module).
Not that it wears uncomfortably on the wrist, quite the opposite in fact but be prepared to make a statement with this model on your wrist. This is not the type of watch you discreetly slide away under your cuff. Personally, I quite like larger diameter watches – although 45mm is at the upper end of the scale for me – but I recognise that others, especially those with smaller wrists, may not share my enthusiasm.
Turn the watch over and a sapphire exhibition caseback gives you a front-row view of the hand-wound 59800-calibre movement, which has a power reserve of 8 days when fully wound (although it could technically run for 9 days according to IWC). As the power winds down the movement is designed to stop before the reduced torque can cause it to start running inaccurately. This means that you can safely wind the watch once a week without fear of doing any damage. The movement is nicely, if simply, decorated with Geneva stripes and perlage. Completing the look is a soft and supple brown alligator leather strap by Santoni.
The new IWC Portofino Hand Wound Moon Phase is a great looking watch, perfect for every day wear (particularly in steel and especially if you have the wrists to pull it off.) Plus, it’s really nice to see a moon phase complication back in the classic Portofino case.
Technical Specifications – IWC Portofino Hand Wound Moon Phase
- Case: 45mm diameter x 13.2mm height – stainless steel or 18k red gold case – sapphire crystal on both sides – water resistant to 3 Bar.
- Movement: IWC Cal. H59800 Calibre with moon phase module – manual winding – 4Hz frequency – 192h power reserve – hours, minutes, seconds, date, moon phase, power reserve.
- Strap: brown alligator leather strap by Santoni
- Reference: IW516401 (steel) / IW516403 (18k Red Gold)
- Price: from EUR 13,400 (in steel)