For the 75th anniversary of its emblematic model, the Portuguese (or Portugaise in French /Portugieser in German), IWC chose not to totally renew the collection but instead to improve some of the (visual and technical) aspects and to add some interesting complications. The star of the show this year was the IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar ref. 5035, that keeps the original feeling of the Portuguese but improves it more than you can really see.
One of the main and recurrent reproaches made to IWC is its lack of continuity within the collections. Collectors do not really have to time to get used to a design and then IWC totally renews its icons with a brand new look. It was the case with the Aquatimer last year. Not that this new collection is not a good one, but it didn’t keep the original feeling of the very first Aquatimers. It was also the case for the Ingenieur collection in 2013. INow it seems that IWC listened to its collectors (and us at the same time). For the 2015 edition of the SIHH, IWC chose to just update and improve aspects of its main collection, the Portuguese. We’re glad that the brand of Schaffhausen decided to keep its best seller just the way we love it.
This time, they have also added something interesting to the package: an annual calendar, intelligently integrated in the Portuguese 7 days. Thus, we found back the same dial layout, with a small second located at 9 and a power reserve indicator at 3. The face is also 99% similar, with these typical applied Arabic numerals, the rail track around the dial and the leaf hands. It also keeps what makes the charm of the Portuguese: its very large dial opening, with almost no bezel. What does change is the area around 12, with 3 new apertures.
Instead of going for 2 or 3 sub-dials like in the Perpetual Calendar, the new IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar ref. 5035 goes for a clean and highly legible choice of 3 discs – one for the month, one for the date and one for the day – that are displayed into an arc at 12. First, legibility is improved because the 3 indications are located one next to each other with the result that the dial does not appear to be overloaded. One of the strength of the IWC Portuguese when it was launched in 1945 and for the rest of its life was to be oversized and overly ‘empty‘. When you look at the classical 7 days or the Hand-Wound, what is extremely appealing is this massive and at the same time pure design. The integration of the annual calendar in this context is faithful to the traditional look of the Portuguese.
Everything is not perfect however. There are two aspects that could have been slightly better for us. First, we don’t feel that the mention ‘Annual Calendar’ was an obligation. Then, the position of the indications may certainly be guided by technical matters but they are not as easy to read than expected, as you read ‘month-date-day’. A display ‘day-date-month’ could have been more natural. Nothing dramatic though but little details that could have improved again the IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar.
The face and case – well almost every visual aspects – may be similar to the previous editions but the movement is totally new. The movement of the IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar ref. 5035 is part of a new family of engines, the 52000. It comes with many improvements:
- A double barrel instead of a single large barrel – always with 7 days of power reserve but with a better stability over the full range of power.
- An improved Pellaton winding mechanism.
- Winding pawls and automatic wheel made of black ceramic. Rotor bearing made of white ceramic. All of this for a better resistance and reliability cause ceramic is practically wear-free.
- Index-less balance with an increased frequency of 4 hertz (28,800 beats per hour) combined with a Breguet spring.
- A slimmer and redesigned rotor, partially skeletonized to improve the view on the movement.
- New design of the bridges, more open to have a better view on the technical elements.
- A nicer finish, with bevelled angles on the bridges and more details on the gears, bridges, wheels, screws (now blued).
These new features not only increase the perceived quality and the visual pleasure but they also add some precision to the movement. Long power reserves are hard to manage and a double barrel will help to keep a good accuracy all over the 7 days range of power. Combined with a faster balance and a Breguet spring, we can expect the IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar to be an accurate ally for a week long on the wrist.
We also told you that the 2015 IWC Portuguese was visually ALMOST identical to the previous editions. However, 2 aspects had been improved: the sapphire crystal has an arched-edge shape that virtually diminishes the height of the case (remember that this watch measures 15.3mm, not what we can call an ultra-thin watch) and the straps now comes with curved horns for a better comfort, even on small wrists. Even though the IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar has a 44.2mm diameter, it remains totally wearable and feels balanced on the wrist, especially in stainless steel (because of the lighter weight compared to gold).
The IWC Portuguese Annual Calendar ref. 5035 is available in 3 editions:
- Stainless steel case with silver dial and black Santoni alligator strap
- Stainless steel case with blue dial and black Santoni alligator strap
- 18K red gold case with silver dial and black Santoni alligator strap