The Collector’s Series – An industry insider and his IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-day
As a watch lover, I find it fascinating asking those who work in the industry what they choose to wear from the particular brand they work for. It tends to be quite revealing given they spend the majority for their day discussing their respective ranges and the pro’s and con’s. This week the Collector’s Series moves to my home city of London. As we sat in the IWC London boutique I couldn’t quite believe it had been a year since it’s opening and the first time Joey Syrett and I had met. Why IWC and why the IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-day, Joey gives us the inside scoop.
When I think of IWC, one collection comes to mind. The Iconic Portugieser. The IWC Portugieser is seen as the first ‘commercial’ IWC collection. IWC have been creating pocket watches and wristwatches since its founding in 1868. The Portugieser was born in 1939, when two Portuguese entrepreneurs commissioned IWC with the task of creating highly accurate wristwatches with the precision of marine chronometers. At the time the only way to achieve this was to use a pocket watch movement. IWC watchmakers took the movement from the 74 calibre Hunter Pocket watch and the Portugieser was born. The Portugieser bucked the trend of traditionally smaller wristwatches and this trait still holds true. The Portugieser is arguably seen as the premier IWC collection and as such showcases the majority of IWC’s high complications and watch making expertise.
Joey, when did you get into watches?
I have been in the industry just over four years. Like twenty somethings, I had been away travelling for a while and upon my return home I was strapped for cash. My local jewellery and watch store had a position available which I found myself in. I started with no knowledge, selling fashion brand watches and charm bracelet beads but like a magpie I naturally appreciated the finer and more prestigious watches and set about learning as much as I could and developing my skills. As time progressed I worked along side higher Horology brands and developed a real passion for quality watchmaking.
What was it about watches that intrigued you?
I think initially it was a curiosity about the value; I enjoyed trying to comprehend why an individual would spend such a large amount of money on an object so small and this was also coupled with how this value was achieved by the manufacturer – what did they do from a manufacturing standpoint to achieve this financial and horological value. This naturally led me to be intrigued about high horology and complications; some would say more refined pieces from more prestigious manufacturers. I still had a great appreciation that for many a great watch is a life partner, something that is worn and enjoyed for the vast majority of life regardless of financial value; the sentimental value this creates outweighs the financial value of the piece.
What is it about IWC that attracts you?
My love affair with IWC stemmed from my time with other brands that were perhaps too commercial and common place on the wrist. I sought to be involved with a manufacturer that strived to be exclusive and refined whilst executing high horology complications. For me IWC is a manufacturer for an educated client; a client who desires a timepiece steeped in engineering and history. I also love the story of IWC, the history and achievements of the manufacturer – a lot of watch brands preach a history and story but I often find that this story isn’t told to the clients whom invest, it takes a back seat to actually buying the watch. This couldn’t be any different for IWC, the collection and iconic timepieces are inspired by and encapsulate its rich history.
Why the IWC Portugeiser Automatic 7-Day from the range?
The 7-day Automatic, as it’s often referred too, is a favourite of mine for two main reasons. Firstly, I am a sucker for the classics, for objects that are synonymous with the manufacturer. For me the Portugieser Automatic is a IWC classic. When I think of IWC, I think of this watch alongside the iconic Big Pilot. Secondly it’s the aesthetics of the piece that I love. I love the mix of the Red Gold case, cream dial and brown alligator leather strap. The ‘Portugieser’ numbers and rail track are a great point of difference from the rest of the IWC collection and really set the face of the piece off. It’s a great size at just over 42mm but it’s the moderate depth and fitting of the case that I love; it really is a Cinderella story for me, it fits perfectly
What is your favourite feature of the watch?
My favorite feature of the watch would be its large 7-day power reserve. The piece has a subdial at 3 o’clock that acts as a power reserve indicator so I can instantly see how much power the watch is holding. I must admit that the 7-day power reserve does not hold much of a practical purpose for me like it would for others as it’s my everyday watch; however I value it as a complication and statement of engineering by IWC. Most watches on the market boast a power reserve between 40 to 70 hours, to have a power reserve of 168 hours is a major point of difference.
It is a tremendously elegant watch on the wrist; does it get many questions/comments?
It does but typically by people whom are aware and educated in IWC watches. I wouldn’t say I get many comments generally saying ‘that’s a nice watch, what is it’ but more rather from individuals whom might say ‘I love your Portuguese’ or ‘How long have you had your IWC?’ I enjoy this aspect as the watch is appreciated by those that really ‘know’ they’re watches.
What’s inside the watch Joey?
My Portugieser is IW500113 and is part of the second generation 7-day Automatic’s that were re-launched in 2010, because of this it is powered by 51011 calibre. The movement itself operates a 3 Hz frequency and houses a Breguet spring coupled with the famous bidirectional Pellaton self-winding system. This allows the performance of such a high power reserve of 168 hours when fully wound.
How does the Automatic fit into your lifestyle Joey?
From a lifestyle perspective, it’s great as an Automatic, you can just put it on and off you go. The large power reserve means I never need to set the watch; it’s always running to perfection. I typically wear a suit during the day which it works well with, but that’s not to say it doesn’t look out of place in a pub garden with jeans and a t-shirt. It only falls short with not being highly water resistant but not wearing it in the show is a sacrifice I am willing to make!
What do you think the Automatic say’s about you when people see it on the wrist?
I have never really thought about it; for me a watch has always been a personal item. In reflection I would hope people think that I have an appreciation for quality, engineering and an understated brand. I would like that people thought I clearly loved and knew my watches!
Does it get much wrist time?
It does, I wear it perhaps 5 or 6 days a week on average. I do sometimes wear an IWC Big Pilot as its something completely different aesthetically to my Portugieser. I used to wear a Rolex Submariner prior to my love affair with IWC but I much prefer wearing something less common.
What is more important to you when buying a watch, brand heritage, accuracy or aesthetic?
I think in an ideal world it’s a combination of all. I would say accuracy is important but its not the defining factor for me; don’t get me wrong I wouldn’t wear anything that was incredibly inaccurate but I am not fussy regarding a couple of seconds here or there. For me you don’t buy a Ferrari for the fuel efficiency; it’s all about the craftsmanship, this principle holds true in watchmaking. However, although the brand heritage and accuracy are all important the fundamental priority is to enjoy how it looks, aesthetics would be top for me when buying a watch.
What, if anything, have you got your eye on next?
From an IWC perspective it would have been the AquaTimer ’50 years of Science’ Galapagos piece; it is a worldie of a watch, however it was limited to 500pieces only and has sold through and come to the end of its run – I am devastated by that to say the least! Outside of the brand I am pretty picky when it comes to other watch manufactures. I am a huge Audemars Piguet fan and my holy grail watch would be the Steel Royal Oak Jumbo with the blue dial, unbelievable and if you know then you know!
What three words would you use to describe your Portugieser Automatic?
Engineered for Men