New Incoming - Portuguese Invasion (Pic Heavy)
by, 23rd February 2013 at 17:33 (6332 Views)
The Portuguese is somewhat of a grail of mine, not in the classical sense of necessarily being out of reach financially or so rare that it’s all but impossible to find but simply because it’s the one watch I’ve lusted after more than any other over the last couple of years but for some strange reason never managed to get hold of one. It seemed that whenever one was available the timing just wasn’t right; either a lack of available funds, space in the watch box or just too slow off the mark resulting is another missed opportunity...……this time however it seems the stars were perfectly aligned, the gods smiling and, finally, I managed to get my grubby mitts on one. So what did we manage to snag? Well this one dates back to 2009, a full set originating from the UK and came complete with a brand new blue alligator strap; the condition is outstanding and to say its mint is an understatement - in fact if you were to tell me it was brand new and I knew no different I’d have probably believed you. So far so good.
So what’s so special about the Portuguese? Well, firstly there’s the long and extended history. The Portuguese was first introduced by IWC in 1930 with the 5001 line subsequently released in 2003. It’s often referred to as a “pocketwatch for the wrist”, and you only need to look at the size and styling to work out where that tag came from. The 5001 comes in a number of different variations, including:
- 01 (rose gold, white dial)
- 04 (platinum, white dial, limited run of 500)
- 06 (white gold, grey dial)
- 07 (s/s, white dial, blue hands)
- 09 (s/s, black dial)
- 12 (s/s, blue dial, Lazareus LE)
- 13 (rose gold, silver dial)
- 14 (white dial, gold hands)
The first thing that hits you as you look at this watch, and certainly the most striking aspect, is the dial. This one comes in a silvery white and has blue appliquéd Arabic numerals with matching blue swallow style 'feuille' hands. The lack of any noticeable bezel means the dial extends to nearly the entire width of the watch and is encircled with a railway track style minute chapter ring. It has two small sub-dials, one housing the seconds hand and the other a power reserve indicator. In both cases the sub dials are slightly recessed and have a circular 'Guilloché' pattern. Its beauty lies in its simplicity and the IWC designers really pulled a rabbit out of a hat with this one with the end result being a dial that's up there with the best in the world in terms of legibility.
The Portuguese retains the classic shape and clean lines of its original descendants and the stainless steel case comes with a mixture of polished bezel whilst the curved body has a brushed finish which gives it an elegant look.
Flipping it over the wow factor continues. The Portuguese comes with the in-house calibre 51011 movement containing 42 jewels, runs at an improved (by comparison the outgoing 50010 contains 44 jewels and runs at a leisurely 18,800 beats/min) and due to IWC's famous Pellaton Winding System delivers a theoretical power reserve of 8 days (mechanically limited to 7 days). Developed in the late 1940's by Albert Pellaton, it was and still remains the largest automatic movement of any wristwatch on the market. So how does it work? The following description was shamelessly taken from timeless.com:
"The way it functions differs fundamentally from other designs. The rotor as the most freely moving part is subject to the greatest stresses and strains created by the movements of the arm and is mounted on a sprung plate - an ingenious form of shock resistance. Contrary to the design of other watches, the movements of the rotor are not transmitted to a wheel train via a gear system but simply move a cam, which is similar in appearance to the heart piece of a cam."
Mechanically, it’s a highly robust and accurate movement (this one is currently running at +3 secs/day). Aesthetically, it’s a work of art and the detailing is exquisite, topped off with an 18 carat yellow gold medallion set within the rotor; nice touch. Thankfully none of that is lost and IWC fitted the 5001 with a sapphire display back which shows of the movement beautifully (sadly the blue dialled Lazareus Limited Edition Portuguese came with a solid case back - scandalous!).
So how does it wear? Well, at 42.3mm in diameter and 13.9mm in thickness it certainly has some serious presence but with the weight tipping the scales at a respectable 100g you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to wear one (by comparison my Rolex Explorer II comes in at 154g, with 2 links removed). Funnily enough, being my first proper dress watch I'm more than a little surprised to discover that due to the thickness of the case it doesn't fit too well under a shirt cuff. If I were to take one guess as to the reason for this I’d probably say if you were to wear something so beautiful it would be criminal to then go and cover it up. I'll keep working on that one.
To sum up, the Portuguese has received fond fanfare on this board and now owning one I can see why. It's a stunning watch in every sense of the word and each mm of detail just oozes class and contributes to a watch that will undoubtedly go down as a true timeless icon. Was it worth the wait? You betcha!