With IWC introducing so many limited-edition references for its 150th anniversary this year (there are 27 in total), it’s been hard work picking a favourite. The blue dial Portugieser Chronograph is certainly high on the list, as of course is the Tribute to Pallweber. If I had to choose just one, however, I think it would have to be the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Edition “150 Years” (IW503405). Striking design, practical complexity and a dial I could stare at for hours, it really does offer a lot of watch for the money.
As you have already read countless times by now, IWC is celebrating its 150th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the company has created a limited edition Jubilee collection comprised of more than two dozen references with special white or blue lacquered dials. The finish on the dials is achieved by adding up to 12 coats of transparent lacquer, firing in an oven and then manual flat polishing to create an enamel-like effect.
The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Edition “150 Years” is only available with the white lacquer dial, which I think makes sense given the level of indications displayed. Don’t get me wrong, the monochromatic blue dial models look sensational, but they don’t provide as much contrast as the white dials, which I think could make the ‘busier’ watches more difficult to read.
From a technical standpoint, the limited edition Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Edition “150 Years” is relatively unchanged from the standard model (IW503302). Presented in the same 18k red gold case, measuring 44.2mm x 14.9mm, it’s definitely not a small watch on the wrist, but it’s still quite comfortable, and the larger size means there’s plenty of room for all the various indications shown on the dial. And what a dial it is.
The white lacquer looks sensational and makes the blued hands and various blue highlights really pop. Hours and minutes are displayed centrally, while small seconds are shown on the inner track of the sub-dial at 9 o’clock. On the outer track of that same sub-dial are the days of the week for the perpetual calendar. Directly across at 3 o’clock is another sub-dial housing the power reserve indicator and the date, while the month is shown on a third sub-dial at 6 o’clock. The year is displayed in four digits via an aperture just below 8 o’clock.
The main highlight of the dial is, of course, the perpetual moon phase display at 12 o’clock, featuring simultaneous displays for the northern and southern hemispheres. This is different to the standard model, which just displays the moon phase in a single hemisphere. A little ‘N’ and an ‘S’ indicate each hemisphere. Extremely accurate, this perpetual calendar display will not need correction until the year 2100 (assuming the watch is kept continually running, which is highly unlikely).
Turning the watch over reveals the IWC-manufactured 52615 Calibre, visible through the sapphire display back. A variation of the 52000 calibre family, which is found in a number of Portugieser timepieces, it features a bidirectional Pellaton pawl-winding system and two barrels, resulting in a healthy 7-day power reserve. The winding pawls and the automatic wheel are made of black ceramic, while the rotor bearing is made of white ceramic, dramatically reducing the wear on the winding system. IWC’s perpetual calendar module, first developed by legendary watchmaker Kurt Klaus in the early 1980’s, sits on top of this base movement.
Finishing of the movement is understated in the traditional IWC style, well-executed without being over the top providing a nice backdrop for the 18kt red gold rotor. Operating at a steady 4Hz, the movement is equipped with 54 jewels and features the “150 years” limited edition engraving on the rotor and around the case back. To complete the look, the watch is worn on a black alligator leather strap by Santoni.
Eye-catching on the wrist, it definitely takes some confidence to wear the IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Edition “150 Years” (IW503405). Personally, I love it, although obviously, I couldn’t see myself wearing it on a daily basis. Available in a limited edition of 250 pieces, pricing is set at EUR 40,200.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.