How do you improve an already iconic design? This was the question facing IWC’s watchmakers and engineers as they took on the challenging assignment of updating the legendary IWC Portugieser Chronograph. Celebrated for its minimalist, Bauhaus-inspired aesthetic that promotes legibility without comprising on style, the Portugieser Chronograph has become the go-to for many a well-heeled individual. It’s sporty and versatile, yet at the same time classic enough to be worn for more formal occasions. Such is its popularity, that it was hard to imagine how IWC could make it even better. Until they did. Presenting the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph, now with in-house manufacture movement.
Based on the original 1938 design, the Portugieser Chronograph Ref IW3714 introducing an aesthetic that would go on to define the Portugieser Collection. Round slender case. Central display of hours, minutes and chronograph seconds. Large Arabic numerals for the hour markers and dots for the minutes. 30-minute chronograph counter at 12 o’clock. Running seconds on the counter at six o’clock. Chapter ring around the periphery. This is without question one of the most functional – and attractive – chronograph designs in modern watchmaking history. Which is exactly why IWC has largely left it alone with this new update.
In fact, almost nothing has changed with the design on the new Ref IW3716, which is a very good thing. The round case – still available in your choice of steel or rose gold – is ever so slightly larger at 41mm x 13mm (versus 40.9mm x 12.7mm) to accommodate the new in-house movement. Likewise, the shape of the chronograph pushers has been tweaked and the font used for the IWC logo on the dial is more modern and a touch smaller. In reality though, these changes are all but imperceptible on the wrist. Yet another hallmark of a timeless design that promotes form informed by functionality.
There is one noticeable change though that doesn’t concern the new in-house movement and that is the introduction of a triple folding buckle to the alligator leather strap. This new buckle is thinner than the deployant-style clasp found on the IW3714, with the design ensuring it stays centred on the wrist. Not only does this reduce bulk but it also results in an even more comfortable fit, particularly for those with smaller wrists.
The big news, of course, concerns the heart of the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph Ref IW3716. The previous reference was powered by an externally-sourced Valjoux 7750 movement, albeit heavily modified to IWC specifications. A more than suitable choice at the time and a reliable work-horse, it has served its purpose well for the last 20 or so years. But IWC is a vertically-integrated manufacturer producing some of the best mechanical movements on the market. As such, it was never a matter of if the Portugieser Chronograph would one day be equipped with a manufacture movement, but “when”
The IWC-manufactured 69355 calibre is part of the 69000-calibre family, which are used in IWC watches requiring a precise, robust and high-performance chronograph movement. If it sounds familiar, it’s because the movement was first introduced in the revamped Ingeniuer Collection that made its debut back in 2016. The chronograph mechanism is a classic column-wheel design and takes the energy it needs from a bidirectional pawl-winding system similar to the brand’s famed Pellaton mechanism.
This in-house movement is in every way an improvement on its outsourced predecessor, delivering a power reserve of 46 hours at a rate of 4 Hz (28,800 beats per hour). It’s also much more attractive, which is why IWC has introduced a sapphire exhibition back for the first time on the Portugieser Chronograph. Precise, reliable and designed for ease of servicing, this is what a 21st-century manufacture mechanical movement should look like from one of the world’s premier luxury watch houses.
As before, six model variations of the IWC Portugieser Chronograph are available. Four in stainless steel, and two in rose gold, with your choice of silver, black, blue or slate-coloured dials (with the last only available in rose gold). Prices range from $11,500 to $24,500, which represents only a modest increase over the previous, non-manufacture movement Ref 3714. Designating the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph Ref 3716 truly an even more valuable proposition that the original.
To learn more about the IWC Portugieser Collection, and to pre-order your favourite model, please contact your nearest Watches of Switzerland Boutique.