IWC introduced a slew of new models in its elegant Portugieser collection in 2020 and revitalized its nautically inspired Portugieser Yacht Club sub-family. The latest addition to the latter series springs from a collaboration with British “resort swimwear” brand Orlebar Brown. It’s a marine-blue-dialed timepiece with a special co-branded strap, designed to coordinate with a new nine-piece lifestyle collection perfectly suited for the watch’s intended milieu of yacht decks and beach clubs. Read on for more detail on the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Edition “Orlebar Brown,” along with some personal insight on the collaboration from Orlebar Brown founder Adam Brown.
We rarely start off our rundown of a new watch’s attributes with its strap and buckle, but we’ll make an exception here. Orlebar Brown’s swim shorts are noteworthy for their unusual and sophisticated construction, taking cues from men’s suit trousers: crafted from 60 elements and fitted with a four-part shaped waistband, zip fly closure, and adjustable side fasteners for a wearer’s ideal fit. The blue rubber strap with textile inlay fastens to the wrist with a similar type of side-fastener buckle, co-branded with the names of both the Schaffhausen timepiece manufacture and the swimwear brand “tailored to the dynamic lifestyles of sailors, adventurers, and explorers.” The marine blue dial is accented by white and red elements, another visual reference to Orlebar Brown’s product range, and features rhodium-plated hands and appliqués; a central seconds hand; and subdials at 12 and 6 ‘clock, for the chronograph tally and running seconds, respectively, the latter also including an aperture for the date.
The movement inside the Yacht Club Chronograph’s 44.6-mm stainless steel case is IWC’s self-winding Caliber 89361, manufactured in-house and amassing a 68-hour power reserve. In addition to the single-totalizer display for the stopwatch hours and minutes (on the dial at 12 o’clock), its built-in chronograph includes a flyback function that enables the wearer to return the hands to zero and instantly begin a new timing sequence. The watch also has a hacking seconds function and a small-seconds and date display in a single subdial at 6 o’clock. The screw-down crown helps enable the watch’s 60-meter water resistance and a sapphire exhibition caseback affords a view of the movement, with its openworked rotor and golden IWC medallion.
Adam Brown founded Orlebar Brown in London, after noting an abundance of too-casual swimwear amongst his usually well-dressed friends at a birthday party around a hotel pool and longing for something that could seamlessly go from the swimming pool to a sit-down lunch. Brown, who worked with IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr on the watch (priced at $12,500, available as of July 2020), sees it as an essential component of the new collection, which also includes a white toweling blazer with blue piping, a blue cotton peacoat, linen shirts, and even a pair of swim shorts depicting a Solaris 55 sailing yacht in honor of IWC’s new partnership with Italian yacht manufacturer Solaris. “The navy blue colors that match the blue piping on the blazer, the rubberized, waterproof elements of the strap, and of course, the co-branded side fastener which has become the reference point of the Orlebar Brown brand — they all come together to create that “yacht club” mood, that refined elegance that comes with sitting on a club deck overlooking the sea,” Brown told WatchTime. Calling himself “an enthusiast rather than an expert” on timepieces, Brown nevertheless finds that his company’s philosophy of versatility and personal tailoring is relevant to the world of watches: “I have been aware of IWC for a long time and received my first one about 10 years ago,” he says. “I would not claim to know all the details of what goes on inside a watch, but I appreciate their individual spirit. Watches are a great way for a man to express himself and I love how each one has its own personality and character.”