By Rebecca Doulton in Madrid
Although the name of this collection doesn't work so well in English, IWC watches is celebrating the Portugieser's 75th birthday with a new annual calendar model and the unveiling of a brand new in-house calibre to fete the occasion.
There is a story behind the unusual name of this iconic collection of IWC watches, relating how two Portuguese businessmen in the late 1930s were hunting for a wristwatch that could provide them with the precision of a marine chronometer. IWC responded to the request and solved the problem by taking a larger pocket watch movement - with a crown on the right side of its case - and housing it in a wristwatch case. Much larger and with a simpler dial than the fashionable wristwatches of the day, the oversized watch fell into oblivion for almost a century before making its triumphant return in 1993.
The Portugieser family was destined for greatness and has been the beneficiary of most of the Swiss watchmaker's complicated movements and cutting-edge technological advances, including a minute repeater, a perpetual calendar, a constant-force tourbillon and a mystery tourbillon. "With a wealth of sophisticated complications and movements, the Portugieser line has for many years come to symbolise our expertise as manufacturers of movements," explains CEO Georges Kern. "None of our other watch families incorporates so many of the technical tours de force of haute horlogerie."
2015 heralds the Year of the Portugieser with IWC's debut of an annual calendar fitted with the spanking new in-house 52850 calibre, which took engineers five years to develop. Once again, the trend for enhanced legibility in calendar watches does seem to be consolidating as recent models by Patek Philippe, Cartier and IWC prove.
Three apertures at 12 o'clock on the dial indicate the month, the date and the day of the week. Unlike perpetual calendars, annual calendars need to be corrected once a year at the end of February, and this new IWC watch allows this to be done conveniently using the crown.
If you are not American, you will have noticed that the order of the calendar information - month, date, day - follows the US system as a homage to IWC's American founder F.A. Jones. The aesthetics of the watch are remarkably similar to the original 1939 Portugieser, with its large 44.2mm stainless steel or red gold case, grooved bezel, railway-track chapter ring and Arabic numerals. The two subdials display small seconds at 9 o'clock and the power reserve indicator at 3 o'clock.
With two barrels in the movement, the new Portugieser boasts a full seven-day power reserve and is proud to show off its new customised calibre through the sapphire crystal caseback.
The IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar will be available in red gold with a silver dial or in stainless steel with a silver or midnight blue dial with a beautiful sunray pattern finish. All versions are fitted with black Santoni alligator leather straps.