There’s a fantastic — if possibly slightly embellished — story about the origins of IWC’s Portugieser family. Back in the 1930s, a pair of Portuguese businessmen allegedly visited the International Watch Company’s Schaffausen headquarters and asked for a large stainless steel wristwatch to be made — one with the precision of a marine chronometer.
The resulting watch, the first Portugieser, had a case diameter of 43mm — positively gigantic in the eyes of a 20th century watch enthusiast. And yet the design of the large timepiece, complete with Arabic numerals, exceedingly thin bezel and delicate leaf hands, was hailed as a success. What’s more, it kicked off a still-ticking trend for larger and larger watches.
And then, earlier this year — at the inaugural online Watches & Wonders show — IWC revealed the new Portugieser 40mm. One of 30 new Portugiesers revealed at the event, this smaller take on the style is a little closer to what those 1930s businessmen would have been buckling up. And it is just as eye-catching as its bigger brothers.
Because, for its smaller size, it stands out in IWC’s unofficial flagship range. As the new entry-level piece in the Portugieser collection, the 40 had a lot of watchmaking weight to bear on its slimmer shoulders. But it has done a stellar job — and then some.
The design, of course, has remained largely unchanged — as it has since that first Portugieser. There are four different variations of this new, smaller model — three in stainless steel and one in rose gold. At Gentleman’s Journal, our pick is the stainless steel, with the silver-plated dial and blued hands and appliques. The traditional Portugieser styling is all there; a round case-shape, a pared-back dial with clear, Arabic numerals and a railroad chapter ring — but this time with the welcome additions of a blue alligator leather strap and a more delicate, diminutive size.
Underneath the silver-plated dial, the 82200 Calibre IWC-manufactured movement can be found ticking away — the same movement introduced in IWC’s 2018 Da Vinci Automatic Edition 150 Years. Modern, reliable and with a 60-hour power reserve, it features the Swiss brand’s Pellaton winding system, durable ceramic components and both Côtes de Genève and perlage decoration.
But, for all the pioneering watchmaking within the case, we keep coming back to the size. At just 40mm, this shifts the Portguieser’s definition within IWC’s wider offerings. Durable, slim and refined, the whole collection now must sit between the dressier Da Vinci and Portofino families and the more practical, utilitarian Ingenieur and Pilot’s Watch ranges. It has become as versatile as it is elegant.
Not to mention the accessible price point. At £6,450, this is the ideal watch for a serious collector to get started with. Its design has already stood the test of time, it features a proven movement, and we’re even seeing shades of Patek Phillipe Calatrava in the styling — a watch that would cost you four times as much. A worthy addition to the Portugieser family if ever we saw one — and we’re sure those 1930s businessmen would agree.
IWC Portugieser 40mm
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