The IWC Portugieser: Classic Swiss Luxury Watches
The Portugieser is one of the most popular and successful collections from IWC, especially the elegant chronograph models. One highlight is the Grande Complication with a perpetual calendar, chronograph function, and minute repeater.
5 Reasons to Buy an IWC Portugieser
- Recognizable design based on classic marine chronometers
- Complications: Chronograph, annual calendar, perpetual calendar
- Portugieser Chronograph Classic with a flyback function
- Automatic model with an in-house caliber and 7-day power reserve
- Sidérale Scafusia with a constant-force tourbillon, perpetual calendar, and star chart
From Chronographs to Grand Complications
The Portugieser is one of the most popular and highly coveted watches to ever come from IWC Schaffhausen. It gets its name from the Portuguese businessmen who commissioned IWC to make wristwatches with the accuracy of marine chronometers in the 1930s. Today's collection ranges from classically elegant chronographs and automatic watches with a 168-hour power reserve to especially complicated timepieces with a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, and stopwatch function.
The Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia is IWC's pièce de résistance. This platinum tourbillon watch boasts a perpetual calendar, sidereal time, and star chart. Furthermore, this complicated wristwatch features a constant-force mechanism that guarantees optimal accuracy. IWC only produces a few copies of this extraordinary luxury watch each year.
The Portugieser Chronograph is much more prevalent than the Sidérale Scafusia. This classic chronograph is among the collection's most famous and affordable models. The caliber IWC 79350, based on the ETA Valjoux 7750, powers more recent editions. IWC's watchmakers heavily modify this movement to bring it up to company standards. The case is almost 41 mm in diameter and is available in stainless steel or gold.
Prices for the IWC Portugieser: An Overview
|Grande Complication, IW377601||205,000 USD||Platinum, 45 mm|
|Perpetual Calendar, IW503406||46,000 USD||Platinum, 44.2 mm|
|Annual Calendar, IW503504||25,500 USD||Rose gold, 44.2 mm|
|Chronograph Classic, IW390402||19,000 USD||Rose gold, 42 mm|
|Yacht Club Chronograph, IW390211||11,000 USD||Stainless steel, 43.5 mm|
|Automatic, IW500109||9,700 USD||Stainless steel, 42.3 mm|
|Chronograph, IW371445||6,300 USD||Stainless steel, 40.9 mm|
How much does the IWC Portugieser cost?
Most people immediately associate the Portugieser with the Portugieser Chronograph. A round case, Arabic numerals, narrow feuille (leaf-shaped) hands, a small seconds at 6 o'clock, and a minute counter at 12 o'clock define this timepiece. IWC decided to forgo an hour counter and date display for this model in the name of greater readability. The caliber 79350, based on the ETA Valjoux 7750, provides this timepiece with its 44-hour power reserve and automatic winding. The Portugieser Chronograph comes in stainless steel or rose, white, or yellow gold and is 40.9 mm in diameter. At 12 mm thick, this wristwatch is relatively flat for a chronograph.
If you're interested in the stainless steel edition, be sure to have around 6,300 USD on hand for a mint-condition model. Pre-owned pieces often sell for under 5,600 USD. In terms of dial color, you can choose from silver, blue, or black. The rose gold version has a silver or slate-colored dial. IWC refers to their slate dials as "Ardoise." These timepieces sell for about 13,000 USD new and under 11,500 USD pre-owned.
The IWC Portugieser Rattrapante is one of the top Portugieser Chronograph models. Thanks to its split-seconds mechanism, this wristwatch can even time intervals. This is made possible by a third push-piece at 10 o'clock. IWC first introduced the Portugieser Chronograph Rattrapante in 1995 and has been regularly releasing limited editions ever since. One such timepiece is the "Boutique Milano," which is limited to 100 copies. This rose gold watch bears the reference number IW371215 and has a blue dial. It's worn on a beautiful black alligator leather strap. The case back features an engraving of the biscione, the serpentine emblem of Milan's Visconti family. Inside, you'll find the manual caliber 76240 with a 44-hour power reserve. This movement is based on the Valjoux 7760. Never-worn models cost around 14,000 USD at IWC's boutique locations.
Features of the IWC Portugieser Chronograph
- Elegant dress watches with a stopwatch function
- A tidy dial with a small seconds dial and minute counter
- The caliber 79350 based on the Valjoux 7750
- Top models with a double (rattrapante) chronograph
Portugieser Chronograph Classic & In-House Caliber 89361
Looking for a Portugieser Chronograph with an in-house caliber? Then you should check out the Classic series. These wristwatches use the caliber 89361 with a flyback function and 68-hour power reserve. A sapphire glass case back offers a view of this intricately finished movement at work, including its Geneva stripes and skeletonized rotor.
The Portugieser Chronograph Classic features a dual 12-hour and 60-minute counter at 12 o'clock, as well as a date display at 3 o'clock. A railroad minute scale lends this watch a more classic feel. You can choose between a silver or blue dial and a stainless steel or rose gold case. Both versions are 42 mm in diameter, 14.2 mm thick, and water resistant to 30 m (3 bar, 98 ft). A black or brown alligator leather strap completes the final look of this luxury watch and underscores its timeless elegance.
A stainless steel IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic costs around 9,900 USD new and 8,300 USD pre-owned. Mint-condition rose gold models demand about 17,000 USD, while used watches change hands for some 16,500 USD.
Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph: Water-Resistant to 60 m
The Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph is the sporty member of the Portugieser family. A 43.5-mm stainless steel or rose gold case, a rubber strap, and an improved water resistance of 60 m (6 bar, 197 ft) characterize this model. The crown protector and red stopwatch seconds hand highlight this watch's sporty character. On the other hand, the railroad minute scale around the dial's edge and the design of the subdials add a more classic touch.
As seen in the Portugieser Chronograph Classic, the in-house caliber 89361 with a flyback function and a 68-hour power reserve provides this watch with its accurate timekeeping and chronograph function. You can see this movement through a sapphire glass case back.
Plan to spend around 11,000 USD on a never-worn stainless steel model. Pre-owned pieces sell for about 7,900 USD. Be sure to set aside at least 18,500 USD for a mint-condition timepiece in rose gold and around 15,500 USD for a pre-owned example.
Features of the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph
- The Portugieser sports watch
- In-house caliber 89361 with a flyback function and 68-hour power reserve
- Rubber strap
- Water-resistant to 60 m (6 bar, 197 ft)
Portugieser Automatic with a 7-Day Power Reserve
The Portugieser Automatic is the ideal wristwatch for anyone who can do without a chronograph function. This luxury watch's design resembles that of marine chronometers, thus placing it firmly in the Portugieser collection. At first glance, you could easily mistake it for a chronograph model due to its small seconds dial at 9 and power reserve indicator at 3 o'clock. However, upon closer inspection, you'll notice a lack of chronograph push-pieces and no minute or hour counters. Instead, this automatic watch has a date display at 6 o'clock.
The in-house caliber 52010 is visible through a sapphire glass case back and gives the Portugieser Automatic its impressive 168-hour power reserve. This means you can set this watch aside for days at a time without having to worry about it stopping.
The Portugieser Automatic is 42.3 mm in diameter, 14.2 mm thick, and water resistant to 30 m (3 bar, 98 ft). It comes in stainless steel or rose gold with a silver, blue, black, or Ardoise dial.
A new Portugieser Automatic in stainless steel sells for around 9,700 USD, while pre-owned pieces change hands for about 7,300 USD. Expect to pay anywhere from 13,000 to 17,500 USD for a rose gold model.
How much does the Portugieser Hand-Wound cost?
The IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound has a long history to look back on. Manual pocket watch movements tick away inside the original models from the 1930s. In 1993, IWC celebrated their 125th anniversary by releasing a new edition with the manual caliber 9828. The design of this anniversary watch is very simple and heavily influenced by early models from the 30s. It bears the reference number 5441 and is available in stainless steel, rose gold, or platinum. There are 1,000 copies in stainless steel, 500 in rose gold, and only 250 in platinum.
Depending on its condition, prices for a stainless steel model range from 8,900 to 13,500 USD. The gold edition costs around 17,000 USD, and the platinum edition is priced around 28,000 USD. You can purchase the full set for some 45,000 USD.
IWC released another anniversary edition 25 years later: the Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition "150 Years." This model is limited to a run of 1,000 pieces in stainless steel and 250 pieces in rose gold. Its small seconds dial at 6 o'clock and railroad minute scale conjure images of watches from the 1930s. The in-house caliber 59215 with an eight-day power reserve ticks away inside each timepiece. IWC put its power reserve indicator on the underside of the movement to maintain the harmony of the dial displays. You can view the indicator and the rest of the refined movement through a sapphire glass case back.
The stainless steel version demands around 9,800 USD new and 8,300 USD pre-owned. The rose gold edition is much more expensive at 37,000 USD in mint condition and 26,000 USD pre-owned.
Prices for Portugieser Models with a Perpetual Calendar
If you prefer watches with a calendar function, the IWC Portugieser collection has some good options. The perpetual calendar is among the most complex complications and represents the pinnacle of watchmaking craftsmanship – especially when it's been developed in-house. The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar has been powered by such movements since 2015, namely the calibers 52610 and 52615. While the 52615 features a double moon phase display that takes the northern and southern hemispheres into account, the 52610 has a single moon phase display. Regardless of which you choose, both displays will only deviate by one day in 577.5 years. What's more, this luxury watch shows the date, day, month, and year. It also comes with a power reserve indicator that lets you know how much of the seven-day power reserve remains in its twin barrels.
The 44-mm Portugieser Perpetual Calendar is available in platinum or 18-karat rose or white gold. Like many other Portugieser models, you can choose from a silver, Ardoise, or blue dial. High-quality alligator leather straps from Santoni, a luxury Italian brand, hold these complicated timepieces securely on the wrist.
A new platinum edition with a silver dial requires an investment of around 46,000 USD. At about 32,500 USD, the white gold version with a blue dial is much more affordable. You'll find pre-owned gold models for about 27,500 USD. The rose gold Portugieser Perpetual Calendar with a double moon phase costs around 30,500 USD new and 27,000 USD pre-owned. Its white gold counterpart demands anywhere from 26,500 to 33,000 USD.
How much does the Portugieser Annual Calendar cost?
Watches with an annual calendar are often more affordable due to their less complicated movements. However, this does mean you'll have to manually correct your Portugieser Annual Calendar once a year at the end of February. In contrast, perpetual calendars will first require manual correction in 2100.
The design of the IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar closely resembles that of the collection's more recent Automatic models, including the power reserve indicator at 3 and small seconds dial at 9 o'clock. However, unlike the Automatic, the Portugieser Annual Calendar indicates the day and month in addition to the date. These three displays sit in a semicircle below 12 o'clock. The case of the Portugieser Annual Calendar is 44 mm in diameter, almost 15 mm thick, and comes in stainless steel or rose gold. The in-house caliber 52850 provides this timepiece with its 168-hour power reserve, automatic winding, and stop seconds mechanism.
You can purchase a never-worn stainless steel model for some 17,000 USD. Pre-owned pieces change hands for around 14,500 USD. If you're interested in the rose gold model, make sure you have at least 25,500 USD on hand for a mint-condition timepiece and about 21,500 USD for a used watch.
Portugieser Grande Complication with 20 Functions
The Portugieser Grande Complication is one of IWC Schaffhausen's most complex watches. Its 20 functions include a chronograph, perpetual calendar, moon phase display, and minute repeater. Minute repeaters relay the time acoustically using a series of chimes. Only the most skilled watch manufacturers have mastered this melodic complication.
With a diameter of 45 mm and a height of 16 mm, the Portugieser Grande Complication is rather large. It's only available in rose gold or platinum, making it much heavier than a stainless steel watch. Both versions are limited to runs of 250 pieces. An engraving on the case back tells you exactly which of these pieces you have. There, you'll also find an engraving of a compass rose that serves as a nod to this watch's historical roots. The alligator leather strap comes from Santoni and features rose gold or platinum stitching.
A never-worn IWC Portugieser Grande Complication in platinum costs over 201,000 USD. You can save some money by purchasing its sister model in 18-karat rose gold. This timepiece sells for just over 176,000 USD new. Both versions are available for under 112,000 USD pre-owned.
An Overview of the Most Important Functions
- Perpetual calendar
- Minute repeater
- Moon phase display
- Stop-seconds mechanism
IWC's Masterpiece: The Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia
The Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia is IWC's most complicated wristwatch to date. It took 10 years to develop. The most important features of this timepiece are its constant-force tourbillon, four-day (96-hour) power reserve, and sidereal time display. A sidereal day is about four minutes shorter than a conventional, 24-hour day. Astronomers use sidereal time to locate the same stars in the sky night after night, for example.
Sidereal time is based on the apparent movement of the stars in the sky relative to Earth's rotation. One sidereal day is equal to the amount of time it takes the same star to return to the same position. Put another way, it's how long it takes for the Earth to complete one full rotation on its axis.
The Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia shows the sidereal time on a subdial at 12 o'clock. The central hour and minute hands and the off-center second hand display the time according to the more familiar 24-hour day. The small seconds hand is attached to the tourbillon's cage, which makes one full rotation per minute. You'll also find a power reserve indicator at 4:30; its hand shows when the manual caliber 94900 requires more energy.
The Sidérale Scafusia's Constant-Force Tourbillon
The constant-force tourbillon used in the IWC Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia is truly special. The power transfer between the mainspring and escapement system usually varies over time in mechanical movements. The spring is under the most tension when fully wound. As more energy is used, the amplitude declines, thus leading to lower accuracy. Astonishingly, IWC has managed to compensate for the balance's decreasing amplitude.
IWC's constant-force tourbillon keeps a constant balance amplitude, which leads to extremely accurate timekeeping. This constant-force mechanism can run for 48 hours uninterrupted thanks to a pair of connected barrels. After that, the watch can still tick for another 48 hours, albeit without the benefits of this refined mechanism. You can recognize when this change has taken place by the movement of the second hand and, of course, the power reserve display. After 48 hours, the balance frequency falls to 18,000 A/h, and the hand second moves in five small steps every second. When the constant-force mechanism is active, the second hand jumps forward once per second, much like a quartz timepiece. IWC also crafts a version of their Ingenieur sports watch with a constant-force tourbillon. The Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force "Le Petit Prince" has been around since 2019.
A Star Chart on Your Wrist
A star chart is featured on the back of the Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia. This chart displays the night sky over a specific location. Every chart shows between 500 and 1,000 visible stars. Marked constellations allow for easier orientation. Thanks to a polarization filter, the chart is blue during the day and gray at night. Two 24-hour rings on the back display the time: The outer ring indicates the mean solar time, while the inner ring shows sidereal time. Moreover, this watch displays the times of sunrise and sunset in addition to its perpetual calendar function. Day 1 is January 1st, day 31 is January 31st, and December 31st is day 365 – or day 366 if it's a leap year. Many astronomers use this counting system. A small window indicates whether or not it's a leap year using the abbreviation "LY." To calculate the current date, simply add the middle number in the large window to the smaller number on the right.
The 46-mm case of the Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia is made of either platinum or 18-karat white or red gold. Its size means it's well suited for larger wrists. It may seem quite thick at 17.5 mm; however, its 520 individual movement components require extra space. With a platinum case, the watch weighs 280 g. The strap is made of alligator leather from the luxury Italian brand Santoni.
Extraordinary Precision Since the 1930s
The IWC Portugieser can trace its history back to the first half of the 20th century. In the late 1930s, two Portuguese businessmen commissioned the International Watch Company (better known as "IWC") to make wristwatches with the accuracy of marine chronometers. Marine chronometers are highly precise clocks used by seafarers for navigation. Back then, only pocket watch movements could achieve the same accuracy. That is why IWC took the Savonnette pocket watch caliber 74 and housed it in a wristwatch case. This movement has its crown on the right-hand side, making it an obvious choice.
Since the caliber 74 was intended for pocket watches, the wristwatch version was exceptionally large. Its 41.5-mm case was much larger than that of popular Art-Deco-style watches at the time. In terms of design, the Portugieser was well ahead of its time. It also came with some technological benefits: Its larger pocket watch balance meant the first Portugieser was much more accurate than other contemporary watches with smaller dimensions.
IWC only produced a few hundred copies of this "pocket watch for the wrist" before the 1990s. In 1993, the Swiss manufacturer redesigned the Portugieser. It would go on to become one of their most successful collections.