The IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition “150 years”
It has not been that long since I first embraced the passion for the world of watch-making - it has been about 4 years - and I vividly remember models and brands that have fueled my desire to learn more and more about this world. One of these was the IWC Portugieser. The chronograph with the leather strap par excellence, a style that continues being incredibly current (and this year, this classic reference will be equipped with an in-house built caliber for the first time). This is what I expect from every new update coming from the most classic collections designed in Schaffhausen: a perfect triangle between style, elegance and refinement.
The year 2018 is an important year for IWC because it marks its 150th birthday. To celebrate this significant event, various limited edition models have been released within a collection called "150 years" or, more simply, "Jubilee collection", of which a significant part is represented by the three versions of the IWC Portofino Edition "150 years".
The story of the Portofino starts at the end of the 70s to meet an increasing demand for classic and timeless watches; in 1984, the Lépine pocket watch was re-designed to become a wrist watch with the addition of moon phases and was presented to the world with the name "IWC Portofino". That Portofino, that we were lucky enough to be able to photograph during the pre-SIHH event in November that took place in Schaffhausen, is today a museum and auction timepiece and it seems as if it had been designed only today.
From that moment on, the Portofino has become IWC's interpretation of concepts like the understatement and the refinement; characteristics of the same-named Ligurian village on the Riviera di Levante which inspired this timepiece and also one of the most fascinating and exclusive places that the entire world is in love with. Is it perhaps a coincidence that Ferrari also dedicated the re-edition of their California car to the same place? I don't think so.
The model I want to analyze today is the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition “150 years”; the most complicated version of the Portofino series in descending order starting from the tourbillon and the single-button chronograph. To fit the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition “150 years” in the right perspective, we need to split our analysis into two parts; a part will be dedicated to the watch itself that is already present in the collection in its original version, while the other part will be dedicated to its Jubilee version.
The IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase (reference 5164) is a very well-balanced watch. Do not let the size of the case (45mm) betray you - as it looks like, on paper, the complete opposite of what ideally makes a classic watch (41mm in diameter). The dimensions are functional to an optimal visual distribution of the complications and the reduced thickness (13,2mm) in relation to the diameter makes it fit even slimmer wrists.
The absence of the bezel - one of IWC's trademarks on this model - gives even more space to the dial. Watches with many features could be a bit chaotic and difficult to read, but spaces are well distributed on the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition “150 years” and each complication is easily recognizable at first glance, but, at the same time, it is correctly inserted within the general geometry of the watch. The roundness of the shapes, the bevels that join the sapphire glass box and the drop-shaped lugs give an uncommon harmony to the final product and generate that sense of elegance that has made the success of the Portofino and has allowed it to enter the Olympus of those "timeless" classic watches.
The 59800 caliber is a small in-house built jewel. It's a great manual winding movement with 8 days of power reserve running at 4Hz, equipped with moon phases and Breguet spring, date and small seconds. A true heir, in celebratory format, to the large pocket-watch calibers, on which IWC has built its reputation and that form the roots of the manufacturing company founded by Florentine Ariosto Jones.
The see-through case-back allows you to see the caliber in all its beauty and the moon phases have been designed to require an adjustment once every 122 years thanks to the increase in the number of teeth of the adjustment wheel compared to the traditional 59 teeth representing the 29,5 days that are needed for the moon to revolve around the earth. If you do not use your IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition “150 years” for a while, the eight-day power reserve is perfect to prevent the watch from stopping and needing adjustments between weekends.
The anniversary edition features new color combinations compared to the models that are currently part of the collection. Three new versions are available; one in red gold with a blue lacquered dial and gold hands (a limited edition of 150 pieces) and two versions in steel with a blue or white lacquered dial and rhodium plated hands (a limited edition of 350 pieces, respectively). All three versions sport engravings on the caliber to mark their belonging to the Jubilee collection.
I must admit that the lacquered blue color of the dial beautifully matches both the warm tones of the red gold material and the cooler shades of the steel material, resulting, in my opinion, in a more successful version than the white variant and also better matching most of the colors that we usually wear. The lacquering is moreover one of the novelties of the Jubilee collections. Depending on the version, the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition “150 years” is priced slightly higher than the original versions in the collection; €24,500 versus €23,800 for the gold edition and €13,800 versus €13,400 for the steel version.
A very low delta price compared to a clear delta value; 150 years are an important and unique date, the customization of the caliber and the enameled dial alone would justify a higher positioning already. Because of the importance of this anniversary and the small amount of watches that will be released, the three IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Edition "150 years" have acquired an interesting collection value already. Above all, in my opinion, stands out the red gold version that features a rare mix of colors between the dial and the case and which, I believe, can speak for itself when wrapped around your wrist.
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting)
Andrea Frigerio @Horbiter®