The Portugieser Chronograph by IWC Schaffhausen needs little to no introduction. It is one of those classic watches that every collector will encounter, one day or another. For over 20 years, it remained practically unchanged, with the exception of variations on the dial. The model we present today is yet another of these variations… and it really works. Let’s take a closer look at the highly limited IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE.
We introduced this new Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE quite recently, in a news article when the watch was officially launched. Still, we’ve been pretty amazed by the work done by Bucherer to give this version its own identity and, let’s be honest, quite a cool look. Something we wanted to confirm by seeing the watch in the metal – no that easy knowing this piece will soon be sold out and is limited to 365 pieces.
Before we take a look at this specific Bucherer version, a quick reminder about the IWC Portugieser Chronograph ref. 3714. The IWC Portugieser is one of the oldest collections at IWC. It was created back in 1939, under the reference 325, after two Portuguese businessmen – Rodrigues and Teixeira – paid a visit to the IWC manufacture in Schaffhausen with an unusual request; they wanted all the precision of a marine chronometer in a wristwatch format. This resulted in the creation of a large 43mm, legible stainless steel watch, equipped with a pocket watch movement.
The design featured simple Arabic numerals, an ultra-thin (almost non-existent) bezel, leaf-shaped hands and a functional minutes/seconds track. All of these design elements have stood the test of time and are featured in the modern versions of the IWC Portugieser. From 1939 until 1993, the IWC Portugieser was in short supply. Only 304 pieces with Calibre 74 were produced and 371 pieces with the evolution of this movement, the Calibre 98 (and its subsequent version, Calibre 982). During the 1970s and 1980s, the watch was sold exclusively on the German market and many thought it was the end of the marine chronometer wristwatch by IWC.
The real return of the IWC Portugieser was in 1995, with the launch of the Rattrapante model Ref. 3712 (or DoppelChronograph), which would become the inspiration for the classic chronograph we are reviewing today. In 1998, three years after the introduction of the Chronograph Rattrapante 3712, IWC launched a simplified model – Ref. 3714 – a standard chronograph sharing the same design, the same case, the same dial and the same display. The main difference concerned the functions, as the 3714 got rid of the rattrapante function and took an automatic movement onboard.
Since this introduction, this watch has remained unchanged, consolidating the looks of a true modern icon. With the exception of occasional dial variations (silver, black, blue, black with silver counters and more limited editions), IWC kept the watch visually and technically identical to the original 1998 concept.
For a complete review of the IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph, check our article here.
Bucherer is now the largest European watch retailer, if not the largest in the world since the acquisition of US-based groups Tourneau and Baron & Leeds. As the leader of the pack, the group has the power to ask some favours from brands, which now includes the creation of specially designed timepieces, all grouped under the “Bucherer BLUE” concept – which means, as you’ve guessed, large amounts of the colour blue.
After several editions based on Blancpain, Moser, Breguet, Longines, Oris or Glashütte Original (Bucherer covers a large range of watches), it is now time for for the Swiss retailer to team up again with Schaffhausen-based manufacture, this time with IWC’s most emblematic watch, the Portugieser Chronograph.
The IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE
Here, we’re going to focus on the looks. This IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE is mostly a design evolution of the classic silver-blue model in IWC’s collection (ref. 371446). The main differences come from the dial and hands, the strap and the specific engravings on the caseback. Still, this can make quite a difference.
The Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE ref. IW371492 differs from the standard version by the use of a contrasting inner flange, in place of a tone-on-tone seconds track. Here, it is coloured in blue, changing quite drastically the perception of the watch. The main idea with the Portugieser Chronograph has always been the wide opening of the dial, reinforced by the monochromatic dial and the almost non-existent bezel. Having a blue inner flange makes the watch more compact but also more casual, a bit sportier.
This feeling can be appreciated when worn on the wrist, making this Bucherer BLUE edition unique in its own way. In the metal, it does really look pleasant and adds a certain appeal to this usually cold, rather technical-looking piece.
The Arabic numerals, raised over the dial, are kept in blue but the leaf-style hours and minutes hands are rhodium-plated instead of being blued. Again, a nice little detail that makes this edition stand apart. The chronograph hands are left in blue for better legibility.
Second evolution: the strap. No formal alligator leather here, but a thin, flat blue textile strap mounted on a folding clasp. This also participates in the more casual, more nautical feel of this Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE, especially with the use of white stitching. Altogether, the watch feels familiar – it is a Portugieser, after all – but unique too, with a more relaxed look.
All the rest remains identical to the classic 3714: 40.9mm case with polished and brushed surfaces, automatic movement based on the 7750 architecture (though highly modified by IWC).
Thoughts, Price & Availability
The IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE ref. IW371492 is clearly an achieved, balanced and handsome piece. While keeping the best of the ref. 3714, Bucherer has managed to give this cold piece some more charm making it one of the most desirable editions of this watch.
The Portugieser Chronograph Bucherer BLUE is limited to 365 pieces, available only from Bucherer stores and website. It is priced at CHF 7,900 or EUR 7,700. More details at Bucherer webshop here.