Introducing the new IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph – Debunking the idiosyncratic idea that the Portugieser only belongs on dress straps
Editor’s note: This is a Mind, Body & Soul review of the new IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph. In addition to our standard long form reviews, we sometimes preview watches in the form of short descriptions, technical specifications and a creative infographic. These short form reviews, or Mind (stats), Body (design features) & Soul (what’s special) reviews as we like to call them, are meant for those who are in a rush and wish to get their watch fix fast. For our standard reviews, please head to our review section here.
What is it: The new IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph
Why: On a stainless steel bracelet for the first time
When released: September 2020
Where: Launched at Watches & Wonders Shanghai
Who is it for: For the lovers of the brand who want more versatility and daily wear capability out of their IWC watches. The hero is the new bracelet — with a butterfly folding clasp — that is now also available as an accessory for all new models of the 2020 Portugieser Chronographs
How does it do: Over 20 years in the making, the Portugieser Chronograph is an iconic watch in its own right. It is an IWC watch through and through, that with its highly legible dials and perfect form following function principles is a worthy addition to any collection. In my humble opinion the introduction of the steel bracelet to the mix further adds to the Portugieser’s unique blend of dress watch aesthetics that subtly rendezvous with sports watch charms. I wouldn’t call this a beater, but if someone decides to use this 13’300 AUD beauty as that, I would see them in heightened respect. Plus that silver-plated dial against the stainless steel case is simply magic.
Missing: Given now it’s got a tool watch tune-up, the water-resistance should also be increased from its existing 30m rating. And perhaps a slightly increased power-reserve would be admirable too.
The reference IW371617 features the automatic winding IWC calibre 69355 movement which is based on the IWC 69370 which in turn was based on the outsourced ETA 7750.
The 30.00mm diameter movement with a classic column-wheel design comprises of 194 components, 27 jewels as compared to calibre 69370’s 33 jewels, beats at the frequency of 4Hz (28,800 Vph), and offers a decent 46-hour power reserve. The movement also features an automatic pawl-winding system that makes use of every rotor’s every smallest movement in either direction that is then used to wind the mainspring system.
The movement is encased inside a 41mm diameter and 13.1mm thick stainless steel case, with a convex sapphire crystal with antireflective coating on both sides covering the dial face.
The watch face shows the functions of hours, minutes, small hacking seconds, and chronograph with a stopwatch function with minutes and seconds. The silver-plated dial also features appliquéd and blued Arabic numerals and slim ‘feuille’ hands that contrast well with the dial face and provide for good legibility. The dial is surrounded by a very slim ‘filigree’ bezel and the internal railway track markings on the outer edge of the dial provide a certain vintage feel to these watches as well.
The see-through sapphire glass back showcases the fairly decorated movement’s perlage and Geneva stripes.
The main star of this show is the 20mm — lug inter-horn spacing — wide bracelet that is beautifully detailed and elaborately finished with polished and satin-finished surfaces.
For me, the new IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph is about two revelations.
Revelation #1: I am a leather strap guy, pure and simple. Versatile as they may be, steel bracelets don’t do it for me. I appreciate the staining, stinking, decaying of a genuine leather strap. To me it speaks of the volumes I have spent with that particular piece, it’s wrinkles a reflection of life’s pursuits I have endeavoured. Even my Rolex is worn on a strap by me, with its original Oyster steel bracelet still with packaging and covering and stickers all kept hidden far hidden from daylight. So if a brand announces a release that’s basically focused on the addition of a steel bracelet, I am not too chuffed with it. Rant over, you know how I feel in most cases. The new IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph, now on a stainless steel bracelet for the first time, has made me change my mind (just this once though).
Revelation #2: Navigation style watches are not my forte. I understand why they exist, for pilots, but don’t really see their charm as an everyday fashion accessory, which lets face it, they are generally used for. Same for dive watches, not a big fan of them either. So IWC watches usually go under the radar for me. Not that they aren’t good, its just they have never appealed to me enough to buy them for myself personally. Until now.
I know what you might say to my revelations; perhaps that the Portugieser is a classic line, that doesn’t do well with bracelets. Or they are trying to be like other steel watches such as the Nautilus. Or the new version is a lot like the existing IWC Yacht Club (pictured below). But this is precisely why I like it; debunking idiosyncratic ideas like these that the Portugieser is meant to only come on a leather strap but not a steel bracelet is why I like wearing my Rolex on a leather strap and not z bracelet.
Simply put, 2020 has seen IWC Schaffhausen revamp their Portugieser collection (pictured below). This has been spread across six different variations and comes in the options of either 18-carat 5N gold or stainless steel case body. One of the aspects about this revamp has been the replacement of outsourced movements with the in-house 69000 series of chronograph movements. Another striking design aspect of this watch is the clean, open and functional dial that has two recessed totalizers at 6’o clock and 12’o clock and a flange that is printed with a quarter-second scale that helps in readability of the dial.
It is safe to say that IWC Schaffhausen has done an exemplary job in revamping this iconic collection. Colour me versatile.
To find out more about the new IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Chronograph and other IWC models, please head to their website here. All images unless separately specified are courtesy ©IWC Schaffhausen.