Partnerships with designers are a strong trend in the watchmaking industry today, a move designed to give watches a fresher, more contemporary face and appeal to fashion-conscious men. IWC partners with British apparel brand Orlebar Brown for a special edition of the Portugieser Yacht Chronograph decked out in smart navy blue with red and white accents and a new strap. Let’s have a look at this new reference IW390704.
Preliminary note: the watch photographed here is a prototype. The final version is worn on a slightly different strap, which has curved ends between the lugs, for better integration with the case.
Orlebar Brown, the British men’s clothing brand founded in 2007, started life selling stylish swim shorts and now specialises in resort and leisurewear wear. The difference between Orlebar Brown swim shorts and regular swim shorts are that Orlebar Brown shorts are crafted like traditional men’s trousers and come with a zipper and adjustable side fasteners. Now an international success story, the brand has expanded its lines to offer beach, sport, resort and coast wear. The nautical spirit of the Portugieser is notched up in this special edition, at home on the decking of a sailing yacht or the decking of a swimming pool. In addition to this watch collaboration, IWC and Orlebar Brown have also designed a “Capsule Collection” of resort wear to celebrate the partnership.
Portugieser Yacht Chronograph
Earlier this year, IWC launched its third-generation Portugieser Yacht Chronograph with a larger case size, the relocation of the date window, design upgrades on the dial and a new metal bracelet. The IWC x Orlebar Brown special edition is based on the recently revamped Ref. 3907. The Yacht Club line of chronographs was introduced into the Portugieser family in 2010 and are fitted with a sophisticated flyback chronograph movement developed from head to toe by the brand in Schaffhausen. What distinguishes this chronograph from many others on the market is its display; instead of two individual counters for elapsed hours and minutes, these are placed in a single sub-dial at 12 o’clock while the second sub-dial at 6 o’clock is for the running seconds.
The Yacht Club line is the sportiest line in the Portugieser family and was designed to capture the nautical spirit of the original 1939 Portugieser – a downsized nautical chronometer. The Yacht Club offers 60m water-resistance and has pushers shaped like bollards but displays the hallmark traits of the Portugieser family with its large round case, the railroad minutes track, the elegant leaf-shaped hands and the applied Arabic numerals.
Orlebar Brown touches
The stainless steel case has a diameter of 44.6mm and a height of 14.1mm with a rounded bezel and a polished finish throughout. Although there have been Portugieser Yacht Chronographs with blue dials in the past, this model has a dark navy blue dial with contrasting colours for the two vertically aligned counters. The top counter, with the combined 12-hour and 60-minute elapsed times of the chronograph, features the same dark blue colour as the dial and the number 12 and the area between 60 and 10 are picked out in bright red.
The small seconds counter, which also houses the date window, is white with blue markings. The flange with the quarter-second scale for shorter time measurements is white with blue markings and indicated by the red central chronograph seconds hand. The characteristic railway minute track of the Portugieser family is white and printed against the blue dial with luminescent hour markers followed by the applied Arabic numerals. The leaf-shaped hands are rhodium-plated and also treated with luminescence. The overall effect is one of a crisp, smart dial with vivid contrasts.
Another distinguishing feature of the collaboration with British designed Orlebar Brown is the new navy blue rubber strap with a textile inlay on the surface that is woven to look like rope. The strap is secured by a co-branded side-fastener that resemble what’s found on the brand’s swimsuits.
The movement below deck is IWC’s 89361 automatic manufacture calibre with a robust 68-hour power reserve, a workhorse movement for IWC that has powered many chronographs in the last decade. The movement can be seen through the sapphire crystal caseback with its openworked rotor and the steel frame is engraved with the name of the watch and the words Edition Orlebar Brown.
Price and availability
The Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Edition Orlebar Brown IW390704 will be available from 15 July 2020 in IWC boutiques, authorised retailers and from the brand’s e-boutique here. The retail price is EUR 12,200 or USD 12,500.