With over 80 years of existence, the IWC Portugieser is amongst the brand’s most emblematic models, if not its most praised watch ever. A watch that has been introduced during the 1930s, it came back on the market during the 1990s and has been the elegant, sporty-chic proposition of the Schaffhausen-based brand ever since. Countless editions have been created, with all possible complications, but simplicity is a form that suits the model well. Nothing better than a sleek chronograph or an elegant small seconds display. The latter, in its smaller version launched just over a year ago, resurfaces today in a sportier, more casual full-steel attire, with the new reference IW358312, the IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 on Steel Bracelet.
For several years, the overall concept of the Portugieser has been rather straightforward. It has been first designed in 1939 following the request of two Portuguese merchants (named Rodrigues and Teixeira), who wanted to have the precision of IWC’s deck clocks but to be worn on the wrists while sailing. The result is a large wristwatch, powered by a pocket watch movement, with a distinctive design (surprisingly modern, even by today’s standards) and a minimalist approach focused on legibility and precision. After the production of this model almost stopped during the quartz crisis, it came back on the market in 1993 for the 125th anniversary of the brand (the Jubilee Edition Ref. 5441) and mostly, in 1995, with the Portugieser Chronograph Rattrapante Ref. 3712 – thanks to the vision of Günter Blümlein. All subsequent models will be in the vein of these two watches; rather large, ultra-clean, inspired by nautical elements… And mostly worn on leather straps.
One of the defining watches in this collection is the classic Automatic model, with its ultra-powerful 7-day power reserve movement. A large watch, with a 42mm diameter, it is not only a watch that couldn’t be worn by all, but it was also a fairly expensive model. Hence the launch in 2020 of a new, and rather curcial model, the Portugieser Automatic 40.
Design-wise, if you put the oversize case apart, this recent and more compact Portugieser is the closest you can get from the original concept. There’s no need to beat around the bush… This new version features all the classic traits of the IWC Portugieser family. Case, dial, display and mostly the markers and hands are all extremely familiar. They’ve just been included in a watch that is fairly compact, meant to be worn on a daily basis and more accessible in terms of price.
At 40.4mm in diameter, the IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 is by no means a small watch, but keep in mind that the classic diameter of the collection has always been in the 42+ millimetres. A thin bezel frames the dial and the case leaves space for the display. Made of stainless steel, combining polished flat surfaces and brushed flanks, it’s classic, quite elegant but still has a slightly relaxed feel that a nautical watch requires. It’s not formal, even more when worn on a bracelet like the present edition.
Indeed, the bracelet is the main novelty here. As said at the beginning, leather has always been the material of choice for the Portugieser and the IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 made no exception to the rule when it was introduced in April 2020. But, following what the brand has done with its revamped Portugieser Chronograph (the new 3716), the compact automatic watch is now available on a steel bracelet – an option that gives more versatility to this watch and makes it even more casual. It’s also a good option for warmer countries. The new bracelet features H-shaped brushed links and polished centre links. It is closed by a concealed butterfly folding clasp, yet it would have been even better with a micro-adjustment device.
For now, the stainless steel bracelet is only available on the IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 with the new reference IW358312, which is presented with a silvery-white dial and blue markers/hands – certainly the best combination, as the model with golden markers has a slightly more formal look. But note that the bracelet will be available as an accessory for current owners of this watch.
A major difference with the classic Portugieser Automatic, and the reason for both the more compact case and the slightly more accessible price, the IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 is powered by a simpler in-house movement, the calibre 82200. Nothing wrong with this engine, as it still features the brand’s Pellaton winding system and the power reserve is comfortable at 60 hours. Also, it is quite large, at 30mm and the way the bridges have been opened allows for a nice view through the sapphire caseback.
Availability & Price
The IWC Portugieser Automatic 40 on stainless steel bracelet (ref. IW358312) is now available from boutiques and retailers. It is priced at EUR 8,100.
For more details, please visit iwc.com.