Fashionable Watches

IWC Portuguese History | Crown & Caliber

IWC Portuguese History | Crown & Caliber


IWC is a company with a storied history
that continues to impress the horology world with each new update. Within this
video we will forego the complete overview of IWC as a brand and instead
focus on the most famous watch family, the Portuguese or as it was renamed in
2015 at the Portugieser. In this video we’ll discuss the history of the model,
key features of the Portuguese, and take a look at some of our favorites. IWC
or international watch company was born in 1868. At a time when most Americans
went west searching for gold Boston-born watchmaker, Florentine Aristo Jones went
east searching for his treasure. The 27 year old went fairly far east, all the
way to Schaffhausen Switzerland, in order to meet his goal of producing
high-quality watches for the American market. After a few changes of hand Ernst
Jakob Homberger took over the company in 1905. Under him two watch families are
created that remain icons to this day. The Pilot’s Watch and the Portuguese. The
Portuguese, specifically, was born during a trying time in the watch market. At the
beginning of the 1930s the export watch market declined dramatically due to the
devastating and global effects of the Great Depression. To avoid dying
altogether hamburger and IWC pivoted to a less targeted European market, Portugal.
Within Portugal the now legendary Rodrigues and Antonio Teixeira made a
very special request. They and other Portuguese men wanted a large wrist
watch with all the timekeeping precision of a pocket watch. The answer: The model 228, later named the Portuguese was born in 1939. World War II disrupted its
arrival to Portugal, but the watch did reach its target audience in 1950, and
the watch wasn’t an initial success. It seems that IWC and the Teixeira’s were a
little ahead of the game. At the time, the watch was much bigger than people were
used to and the market needed a little time to catch up, but fear not for the
Portuguese. In 1993 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the brand
IWC brought the Portuguese back to life. This limited series was almost the exact
same watch that has been created for the Teixeras, including the same caliber 9828 movement. The only key difference was the now numerical font.
Two years later in 1995 the Portuguese line gained a minute repeater and a rattrapante chronograph. In 1998 IWC launched the Portuguese chronograph reference
3714, which some considered to be the most coveted of the family. The new
millennium brought with it many updates and launches to the beloved watch. In
2000 the Portuguese came with an extra-large 5000 caliber, which can run
for seven days and features a Pellaton automatic winding system. 2003 brought us
the Portuguese perpetual calendar with a newly designed perpetual calendar
movement and an exclusive hemisphere moon phase display. In 2004 the
Portuguese family welcomes the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystere and in 2010
the Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph is reborn. Originally released in 1967 the
Yacht Club was one of the most successful IWC watches and now the Yacht
Club brings a sportyier touch to the Portuguese line. In 2011 IWC presents the
most complicated mechanical wristwatch ever. The Portuguese Sidereal Scafusia,
with a patented constant force Tourbillon, and individually calculated astronomical
displays. Each of these watches is made to order. And then in 2015 for the
Portuguese’s 75th birthday it gets a new name,
The Portugieser, and a newly designed 52000 caliber movement. This new
collection sets technical and aesthetic standards for all large watches in the
world. Now that we know it’s past, let’s discuss key design features of the
Portuguese family. Originally the defining features of the Portuguese were
a pared back dial, Arabic numerals in an art deco esque font, and oversized sub
dial at six o’clock, and a thin bezel. However the reference 325 had
multiple iterations the dials could be black or silver, numerals could be Roman
or Arabic, and the design moved from Art Deco to more of a Bauhaus look. Now it’s
defining characteristics are deco style Arabic numerals, slim leaf shaped hands,
and a railway style minute track. Dials always feel capacious even when housing
multiple complications, and the case is never anything other than oversized. Now
here are some of our favorite Portuguese watches. The IWC Portuguese chronograph
150 years limited-edition. The Portuguese
chronograph is one of the best designed chronographs there is. Keeping with the
Portuguese style, the dial design is so clean. The classic 41mm
Portuguese case perfectly houses the IWC caliber 69355 automatic winding column
wheel design. This particular chronograph is a limited edition celebrating 150
years of IWC, and features a stunning blue enamel dial. Up next is the IWC
Portuguese automatic. This is one of the simpler looking Portuguese models, but
don’t let that simplistic design fool you. This watch features an impressive
seven-day power reserve thanks to twin barrels. It also utilizes the IWC Pellaton
winding system this system uses pawls instead of gears to separate the winding
rotor from the barrels and minimises shock to the gear train. And even though
the Pellaton winding system was invented over 50 years ago
IWC continues to push the envelope by producing this one in a highly
resistant ceramic. And just for fun here’s a slightly older IWC automatic
in gold. This dial is even cleaner thanks to the lack of the date at six
o’clock, but both of these watches, at 42 millimeters, don’t feel too plain. The
design just works. Now it’s time for some of the heavy hitters in the Portuguese
line. These are where you can really see IWC flexing their prowess. The IWC
Portuguese annual calendar. Housing the same 52000 caliber base as one of the
automatics we just showed. The seven-day power reserve and Pellaton winding system
are robust enough to power such a complication as the annual calendar. The
simplicity and the dial is maintained by adding all of the information at 12
o’clock and the three apertures. The 44 millimeter case is as impressive as the
annual calendar and is fitting for the Portuguese. Last, but certainly not least,
is the IWC Portuguese perpetual calendar. The biggest difference between an annual
and a perpetual calendar is the perpetual accounts for leap years, but
IWC didn’t stop there. They also added a moon phase that even accounts for both
the northern and southern hemisphere. This watch, similar to the annual, is
powered by the 52000 calibre family movement, and now features a solid gold
rotor. This watch is just so well designed, laid out, and constructed.
It is quite the Grail watch. IWC’s forward-thinking design, adversity when
Styles didn’t prevail, and consistent innovations help us all see that old
dogs can learn new tricks, or more aptly that classics can and should continue to
surprise us. After this video I’m confident you can see why so many add
Portugiesers to their Grail lists. Let me know which ones on yours and as
always thanks for watching.


Reader Comments

  1. Great video! Thanks for another introduction to the watch world. Just a remark:
    1:24 You have a typo. It's Rodrigues, not Rodriguez (Spanish spelling), confirmed on IWC site https://www.iwc.com/en/forum/history-of-iwcs-portugieser-watches-reference-325.html

  2. Love the history…great vid, my brother and i were talking about the Portofino earlier…ha, I'll send him this vid…Portugueser! 🙂

  3. I must be the only one here who finds IWC Portuguese too large. Also the dials most of the times are not spot-on right design wise imo. Sorry to spoil your party

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