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IWC’s Portugiesers draw upon the elements of the Earth for 2024

The IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar in platinum case.

The Watches and Wonders Geneva fair sees IWC setting a new record, this time for the most accurate moonphase display, probably forever.

The Portugieser is one of IWC’s oldest product lines, turning 85 this year. The collection was named after two Portuguese merchants who commissioned a highly precise wristwatch equipped with a pocket watch movement. The watch was a highly modern design, with simple Arabic numerals and feuille hands that created a balance between classic and contemporary.

To take the Portugieser collection forward, creative head Christian Knoop experimented with colours and dial treatments, this time taking inspiration from the elements that Portuguese explorers would have faced as they ventured seaward. With four series – Horizon Blue, Dune, Silver Moon, and Obsidian, each is in a particular hue with a sunburst finish, following which 15 layers of transparent lacquer are applied for a true glow-up – there’s an almost ephemeral presence when light casts down on each dial.

The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar in Obsidian dial and rose gold case.
The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar has an Obsidian dial and rose gold case.

Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44

The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar 44 is available in four versions: two in 18K white gold with Horizon Blue or Dune dials and two in 18K Armor Gold with Obsidian or Silver Moon dials. The dials feature the brand’s familiar perpetual calendar design, with a double moonphase display at the top of the dial, a date and power reserve at 3 o’clock, month at 6, and date cum small seconds display at 9. The four-digit year display resides between the 7 and 8 o’clock positions.

The dials of the new Portugieser models are first coloured and then coated with multiple layers of lacquer.
The dials of the new Portugieser models are first coloured and then coated with multiple layers of lacquer.

The watches are powered by IWC’s in-house 52616 self-winding calibre, which has a power reserve of seven days and can be seen through the exhibition caseback. The rotor’s skeletonised anchor-style design reflects the collection’s origins, and thanks to the Pellaton winding system, it is bidirectional.

The IWC Portugieser Chronograph in Dune dial and stainless steel case.
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph in stainless steel with Dune dial.

Portugieser Chronograph

The model now features three new dial colours, with Horizon Blue depicting a clear blue sky in the early morning or late afternoon and housed in a polished white gold case that captures the bright daylight. A second model with a Dune dial and stainless steel case reflects the beauty of the golden hour, and an Obsidian dial with an Armor Gold case depicts the enigmatic magic of the midnight hour, covered in the golden glow of city lights.

The rose gold IWC Portugieser Chronograph with Obsidian dial.
The rose gold IWC Portugieser Chronograph with Obsidian dial.

The watches are powered by IWC’s Calibre 69355, another in-house production with column-wheel control, chronograph complication and vertical coupling to ensure performance reliability even if the chronograph is kept running.

IWC’s Portugieser Eternal Calendar features a secular perpetual calendar and 45-million year accurate moon phase display.
IWC’s Portugieser Eternal Calendar features a secular perpetual calendar and a 45-million-year accurate moonphase display.

Portugieser Eternal Calendar

But it is the Eternal Calendar that has captured everyone’s attention. IWC’s first secular perpetual calendar puts it on par with Audemars Piguet when it comes to calendar complications, developing a calendar that will keep up with Gregorian calendars until the year 3,999 at least, but more likely to 9,999. The secular perpetual calendar is one step up from the standard, tracking non-leap centennial years as well.

The moonphase display of the Calibre 52640 which equips the Eternal Calendar features three additional intermediate wheels that enhance its precision.
The moonphase display of the Calibre 52640, which equips the Eternal Calendar, features three additional intermediate wheels that enhance its precision.

IWC’s Calibre 52640 goes one further, however, with a moonphase display that is accurate to 45 million years! This is achieved using a reduction gear train with three intermediate wheels. The moonphase is also a unique one, using a titanium base disc with a glass dial rotating above it that’s frosted and lacquered in white before adding the sundials and appliqués.

The IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar in platinum case.
The IWC Portugieser Eternal Calendar in platinum.

The entire watch is housed in platinum, and the Calibre 52640 has a power reserve of seven days, fuelled by two large barrels. The movement is also equipped with the Pellaton winding system for convenient bidirectional winding, visible through the caseback.

The IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Day & Night in Armor Gold case with Obsidian dial.
The IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Day & Night in Armor Gold with Obsidian dial.

One More Thing

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the mesmerising Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Day & Night, housed in an Armor Gold with the manufacture’s dial-side tourbillon, which features silicon components treated with a diamond coating to reduce friction. The tourbillon has a stop setting when manually setting the time for precision and offers a generous power reserve of 84 hours.

It's difficult for us to pick which is more eye-catching - the well-finished rotating tourbillon with skeleton gold bridge, or the orbital day and night indicator.
It’s difficult for us to pick which is more eye-catching – the well-finished rotating tourbillon with skeleton gold bridge or the orbital day and night indicator.

The truly stunning aspect of the watch, apart from the Obsidian lacquered dial, is the orbital day and night display, shown using a tiny gold-coloured orb that’s blackened on one half to illustrate the day and night. This poetic display was a concept initiated by an apprentice watchmaker, demonstrating that creative watchmaking continues to thrive in the 21st century. 

These are certainly technically impressive, but more importantly, they are extremely refreshing takes on the Portugieser, which we typically perceive as austere or plain in terms of the dial’s design. With these four shades, IWC shows us that it’s not afraid to break the mould to create something new.

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.


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