Today we start with a new series, The Collector’s Series, focusing on collectors and their watches. Well, one of their watches for starters. We will be sitting down with some of our readers and find out why they bought a watch, and what triggered them to buy that specific watch. It could be for an important life-event, or just for the fun of it. A collector can have a passion for a specific brand, a specific complication, a specific historical background or a gazillion other reasons to buy that specific timepiece. We’re talking about these questions and also want to know how it is, owning the watch and wearing it frequently. Of course we will do our in-depth reviews, however we’d also love to hear from owners how their experience with a watch actually is. Today we’re talked with Koen about his IWC Portofino Vintage Collection 5448 in steel.
What sparked your interest in watches?
My interest for watches began at a quite young age. I used to go skiing with my family in Switzerland as a kid. Afterwards we always visited my uncle and aunt in Therwill ( a village near Basel ). I remember my uncle wearing an IWC watch in steel from the 1960’s. It was an automatic watch with of course a sweeping hand. It was the first time I noticed the hand floating over the dial so smoothly. That really sparked my interest in watches. I was twelve years old at the time.
What drew you to IWC as a brand?
My uncle had an IWC catalogue from 1999. When he passed away, my aunt gave it to me. I was curious about the modern timepieces IWC had in their collection, so I visited their website. At the time they just launched their Vintage Collection, which they did as a tribute for their 145th anniversary. They made a video which was named “ The book of dreams”. I actually fell in love with all the watches within that collection, but there was one watch that I considered to be really, really special. The Portofino in steel. I remember going to the jeweller and asking what the price was for that particular watch. The watch was priced a little bit above € 9,000 Euro. I was pretty sad as you can imagine. I had fallen in love with a watch that I could not afford.
After getting interested in watches by IWC , there was no question I was bitten by the watchbug. I started looking at other watches which I could actually afford. As a kid, you always ask your father for advice when making a serious purchase. My father was given a very nice Baume et Mercier for the occasion of his 45th birthday by his mother. He showed me the watch and I really liked the design and feel of the watch. It was a Hampton Milleis. So I went back to the jeweller and asked if they maybe had a watch similar like that particular one. They did have one in steel with a quartz movement that I could afford if I saved all my money for a year. So I did not spent any money for an entire year. I remember I was really excited the evening before my birthday. Every kid can relate that. Your birthday means you might get an envelope. And an envelope means you get a step closer to what you really like to purchase. In my case a nice watch. That was the way I was thinking at the time. I purchased the Baume et Mercier when I was just fourteen years old.
When did you eventually manage to purchase the Vintage Collection Portofino?
As soon as my interest for watches began, I started reading about watches. I read a lot of story’s on the internet and also purchased books relating to watches. After two years of doing this, people started to ask me to help them select a watch. They wanted independent advice. I felt greatly honored and very pleased when it turned out that several people I had advised actually paid me for this service. After helping people of and on for a couple of years I had earned enough to finally purchase my first real Swiss mechanical watch. The IWC Portofino Vintage Collection 5448 in steel.
Why is this particular watch so special to you?
This Portofino is a special watch for a number of reasons. First of all, it is a pretty big watch. The case size is 46mm. The case is this large, because of the movement. This watch contains the 98800 calibre, which is actually like an updated Jones calibre which was in use in the earliest years. Another thing that makes this watch special is that it is an updated version of the IWC Portofino 5251 from 1984. The original Portofino watch was nicknamed “ Spiegelei” (fried egg, ed.) because the moonphase was at 9’oclock, and the small seconds dial at 6’oclock. I really like this watch for its classical look and for having a stunning movement and a design that find its roots in a historical model, to which it really is very similar.
How much wrist time does this Vintage Collection Portofino get?
At first I thought I was going to wear this watch every day since I was so happy that I could finally buy it. Well, in truth that turned out quite differently. The watch is a bit too dressy in my opinion to wear it as an everyday watch. Also the crown is bit too small, which makes it a bit hard to wind. For this reason, I decided to wear this watch only for special occasions and events. I have several other watches which are better for everyday use. I now wear my Portofino watch around twice a week.
Did you tend to research the market and listen to the advice of anyone before making a purchase?
For this particular piece I didn’t really search for any advice. I already knew that I wanted this particular watch for so long that I didn’t really need to consider it when I finally could make the purchase. However, I did research the market before pulling the trigger. I had seen the watch online for a price that was a significantly less expensive then the official price. When I went to my jeweller, it turned out that he already had the watch on offer at a discount, so I got my dream watch within the price range I had seen it for on the internet.
But that was only for this particular watch. When I purchase watches in general, I do research the market and I do listen to people’s advice. I do not know everything about watches. I wish I did, but I don’t. For that reason I always have an open ear for advice from anyone who can help me making a decision.
When collecting, do you think it’s important to stick to a brand or a category?
In general I believe, that when you collect watches, you don´t have to stick with a particular brand or category. We collect watches because it is fun. You can get just as much pleasure from a watch of a different brand, as from a watch of the same brand. Almost every brand has its iconic piece. Like IWC with the Portugieser, Patek Phillipe with the Calatrava or Omega with the Speedmaster. All these watches are great. Why stick to one brand when there are so many stunning watches out there to own? If you go to a fancy restaurant, you don’t want the beef to get better and better every time you go there. You also want to taste different flavours.
Can a collector ever be satisfied with his/her collection?
I think the answer is no. Collecting watches is something that goes on all the time. You are always looking for your next timepiece. I believe that a collector gets his kick from seeing his collection and his taste develop and that is a process that does not stop at one particular watch.
What are your thoughts on IWC new female range given they are “Engineered for men”?
It is interesting that IWC recently launched the new female range Portofino watches. This is interesting, because they generally market their watches under the slogan “ Engineered for men”.
The key is that watches are technical products and technical products traditionally appeal to men only. But as more women have become technicians over time, it is only logical that they also develop a love for fine technology and therefore will also be interested in mechanical watches. So marketing mechanical watches to women makes sense and does not require IWC to change its focus on functional technology. But they will have to find the right message to appeal to women. That will be a technical message, but not necessarily the same message that appeals to men. At the same time, they have to take care not to confuse they communication to their male customers. It will be interesting to see how IWC manages this juggling trick.
But whatever the future holds for IWC, my Portofino is a keeper. It will always stay with me.