IWC chose the 75th anniversary of the Portugieser line in 2015 to introduce a model that takes its style cues directly from the original. In this article from Monochrome-Watches, we take a look at a modern reinterpretation of the Schaffhausen watchmaker’s most venerable lines.
It is without question that IWC is one of the most prestigious watch companies in the world. The brand’s identity is a balance between the heritage and style of traditional watchmaking and the technological innovations continually changing the industry. The IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound 8 Days (Ref. IWC510205 in stainless steel and IWC510206 in rose gold) draws upon history and technology in equal measure.
Throwback Thursday (or any day, really)
The legacy of the Portugieser (often referred to by its name in English, “Portuguese”) model 325 runs through the “DNA” of the International Watch Co. That watch’s oversized case, housing an undisguised pocketwatch movement, served as the template for a number of models. Sitting atop the movement was a simple, elegant dial designed for easy legibility.
75 years later the 5102 models revisit the notion of simple elegance, with 43-mm cases and dials boiled down to the absolute essentials for quick reading: Arabic numerals at 12, 3 and 9 o’clock and clear railroad graduations around the dial. Seconds (which now hack; we’ll get to that in a second) sit at 6 o’clock as they did on the original. Now a date window counts out the month in an aperture at the very bottom of the dial.
Eight Days a Week
Manually wound movements are a bit of a paradox. They are absolutely not modern. In fact they sit in opposition to modernity; there isn’t anything necessarily convenient about them, and the ‘tricks’ that make them work have been used for the past 100 or so years, without much variation. The paradox is that while they don’t fit the bill as cutting-edge in the modern era, they fit any true watch collector’s lifestyle perfectly. More so than any other type of modern-day movement, they force the owner into a relationship with the watch because of the need for regular winding.
The manufacture caliber 59215 movement needs to be wound, but it is by no means a needy movement. The 192-hour power reserve means that you can easily keep the 5102 in rotation with several other watches without concern for setting because the reserve has run flat. Speaking of reserve, the sapphire display on the rear of the watch has an eight-day readout to keep track of winding duties. And, speaking of setting, unlike the pocketwatch movements of yore, the 59215 will hack to allow for precise setting.
Unlimited Tradition, but Limited Editions
The Portugieser line celebrated its jubilee anniversary in 2015. While the line has now endured for 76 years, this celebration will not. The Hand Wound 8-days Portuguese models are quite limited in number: the stainless steel model is limited to 750 pieces worldwide and the rose gold version is restricted to 175 pieces. When they are gone, you will have to wait until the year 2040 for the line’s centennial editions. But don’t think of it as nearly a quarter of a century away; think of it as 1,142 winding cycles.