Over the second part of its life, which started in the early 1990s under the guidance of Günter Blümlein, the IWC Portugieser has become the most emblematic model in the brand’s collection. Elegant without being formal, simple yet with great character, it’s a model that we’ve seen equipped with pretty much every possible complication. From simple time-only models to an ultra-complex Constant Force Tourbillon, there’s a model for everyone. And today, as part of the brand’s action to gradually revamp the collection, IWC Schaffhausen is launching a new sleek tourbillon model, the complex evolution of the Portugieser Automatic 40. Here’s the new IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon IW545801 in Armor Gold.
Looking at the current Portugieser collection, IWC has somehow divided the range into three distinct lineups. Besides the sportier Yacht Club watches, there are the large and more complex automatic models, such as the 7-day Automatic, the classic 7-day Perpetual Calendar, the Annual Calendar or the Chronograph Classic with in-house calibre. On the other hand are the slightly simpler, more compact and a bit more accessible models such as the emblematic Automatic Chronograph, the Automatic 40 and the new Perpetual Calendar iteration. If in the past the difference was mostly about the provenance of movements – in-house vs. outsourced – it’s now more down to the length of the power reserve, the size of the cases and how many complications are embarked into the movement.
Talking tourbillons, the Portugieser has never been short of offering in this department, and even today still offers a lot of iterations. There’s the Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon (based on this model for the 150th anniversary), the Tourbillon Retrograde Chronograph or the Tourbillon Mystère Retrograde. But one that doesn’t exist anymore, a watch that was the “simplest” of all models equipped with the anti-gravity device, is the Portugieser Tourbillon Hand-Wound – with its large manual movement from the 98xxx family. Following the introduction of the Portugieser Automatic 40 and Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 42, two watches that are simpler, smaller and sleeker than the large 7-day models, IWC is now releasing a new Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon. New case, new display and new movement are part of the show.
The IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon IW545801
While the concept of the tourbillon, the anti-gravity device patented by A.L. Breguet, needs no introduction anymore – and if you feel the need to learn more, you can look at this article – the new Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon is a watch that needs a few lines of explanations.
As said, this new watch follows the evolution of the Portugieser collection initiated with the Automatic 40 and Perpetual Calendar 42. What it means is that, compared to the larger 7-day watches, it’s sleeker, more focused, slightly less oversized and also simpler mechanically speaking… and also meaning that it’ll be slightly more accessible (relatively speaking) in terms of price. As such, you could see this watch as a replacement for the older Hand-Wound tourbillon. For starters, it is housed in a case that measures 42.4mm, thus sharing its size with the QP model. However, it’s a fairly thinner model, with a height of only 10.8mm – making it the thinnest of all Portugieser watches. The case retains all the distinctive elements of the collection, with its oversized dial opening and extremely thin bezel. It is here made of 18k Armor Gold. This red-coloured alloy has a modified microstructure allowing for significantly higher hardness values than traditional gold alloys. The case is equipped with sapphire crystals on both sides, is finished with polished flat surfaces and brushed casebands and is water-resistant to 60m (and even if it will probably never see a pool or salty waters, it’s reassuring to have a bit of protection).
The silver-plated dial of this new IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon has all the attributes of the collection, with its timeless, sleek design with nautical inspiration. Matching the case, the leaf-shaped hands are gold-plated and the signature Arabic numerals, paired with rectangular hour markers, are solid 18k 5N red gold applied on the dial. The display is minimalistic, with only hours and minutes hands, pointing a black railroad track. The focus here is, without a doubt, the one-minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock.
There are a few important things to say about this regulator, however. First of all, it has a flying architecture. Rather than being supported by an upper bridge, the cage is held exclusively from the backside, enabling an even better view of the inner workings – so you can see the balance, pallet lever and escape wheel inside the rotating cage. Second, this tourbillon is a modern expression of the complication. Running at a fast frequency of 4Hz (traditionally, tourbillons run at 3Hz), it is equipped with silicon parts – for the pallet lever and escape wheel – which have been coated with Diamond Shell technology. This diamond coating reduces friction, avoids the need for lubrication and helps improve the flow of energy in the movement.
This 56-part tourbillon is also equipped with a stop-seconds mechanism, a rare feature on such watches. As we showed in this technical article, stopping a tourbillon isn’t that simple. Presented in 2017, the IWC hacking Tourbillon uses two levers to grip the balance wheel’s rim like a set of pliers. Each lever has its own spring, and if one hits the pillar, the other stops the balance. Behind this tourbillon is a brand new movement, the Calibre 81905, developed especially for this Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon. Relatively large and thus nicely filling the caseback, it boasts a comfortable 84-hour power reserve. The back is decorated with Geneva stripes and polished bevels.
The Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon is worn on a black Santoni alligator strap, closed by an 18k 5N red gold folding clasp. On the wrist, the watch is certainly not small but short and curved lugs help with comfort. Note that the strap is compliant with CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
Availability & Price
The IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon IW545801 is released as part of the permanent collection and is available now from IWC boutiques, authorised retail partners or online from the brand’s website. It is priced at CHF 65,000, which is by no means accessible but still is about 30k less than other tourbillon models. Curious to see if IWC will release a stainless steel version of this watch, with a silver-plated dial and blue accents. That would make a nice addition to the collection.
For more details and orders, please visit iwc.com.