The Portugieser is one of the most sought-after watches from IWC. The Swiss watch company released the first version of this classic beauty back in 1939. The name “Portugieser” comes from its origin story: Back then, two Portuguese watch importers commissioned IWC to create a large steel wristwatch for officers and captains in the Portuguese merchant marines. The resulting watch was 41 mm in diameter. At the time, this size was unheard of for a wristwatch, leading many to liken it to a pocket watch for the wrist. The model proved an unpopular, slow seller at first and eventually disappeared from the manufacturer’s line-up entirely.
The Portuguesier didn’t make its comeback until many years later. In 1993, IWC presented a new, limited-edition version of the watch in honor of the company’s 125th anniversary. Large wristwatches were in fashion at the time, and consumers flocked to this historical remake. The current collection includes both three-hand watches and chronographs, some of which have additional complications such as a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, or tourbillon. The design closely follows that of the original from 1939, which has since gone down as a timeless classic.
Main Design Features
Every Portugieser watch features a round case, Arabic numerals, and elegant leaf (or feuille) hands. IWC crafts their cases out of stainless steel, platinum, or 18-karat rose gold. Depending on which version you choose, your watch will come on a leather or rubber strap or a stainless steel bracelet. Rubber is the strap material of choice in the Yacht Club series.
Three-hand watches feature a small seconds at 6 o’clock, and the cases measure either 40.4 mm or 44.2 mm in diameter, depending on the version. The latter is the case size for the ref. IW544907 with a minute repeater. Dial options include silver (ref. IW358303) or blue (ref. IW358305).
There is even more selection when it comes to chronographs, which boast a wide range of color schemes and functions. The Portugieser Chronograph with a central stop seconds hand, 30-minute counter at 12 o’clock, and a small seconds at 6 o’clock is a particularly popular model.
Portugieser Chronograph: The Bestseller
According to our data, the ref. IW371446 chronograph was the most popular Portugieser model on Chrono24 in 2019, followed by the ref. IW371445. Both timepieces have 41-mm stainless steel cases and silver-plated dials. While the first reference features blue indices and hands, the second’s hands and indices are gold. These exact variants are no longer in production, but there are still many examples in good condition available on the market. Both are powered by the automatic caliber 79350, which is based on the tried and tested Valjoux 7750 from ETA.
In 2020, IWC replaced the caliber 79350 with their in-house caliber 69355. Moreover, they added additional dial colors to the mix. Next to the classic silver, black, and blue, stainless steel models are now available with green or red dials (refs. IW371615 and IW371616, respectively). They also released an 18-karat rose gold edition of the Portugieser Chronograph (ref. IW371610). Every reference mentioned above has a sapphire crystal display case back that offers a clear view of the movement at work.
The Portugieser Automatic With Two Subdials
The Portugieser Automatic has a two-subdial layout with the power reserve indicator at 3 and the small seconds at 9 o’clock, while a date window at 6 o’clock offers a nice sense of balance. The stainless steel ref. IW500704 is a particularly popular model. This watch measures 42.3 mm in diameter, making it slightly more imposing than the Portugieser Chronograph. Its silver-plated dial features applied gold-colored indices. Inside the case, you’ll find the in-house caliber 52010, which has an impressive 7-day power reserve. Again, a sapphire crystal display case back rounds off this elegant timepiece.
IWC offers different dial colors and a rose gold watch in this series, as well. If you are interested in a particularly striking Portugieser Automatic, look no further than the ref. IW500714 with a red dial. However, if you prefer more understated designs, we recommend the ref. IW500703 with a black dial. Rose gold editions can be found under refs. IW500701 and IW500702. The former comes with a silver-plated face and the latter with a slate-colored dial.
Yacht Club: The Sporty Portugieser
The Yacht Club line is the sportiest member of the Portugieser family. This series contains numerous models outfitted with stainless steel bracelets, something you otherwise only get with the Portugieser Chronograph ref. IW371617. The Yacht Club has a 43.5-mm case made of either stainless steel or rose gold. The one exception is the ref. IW390703, which is the sole two-tone Portugieser. The watches in this line get their power from the in-house automatic caliber 89361 with a flyback mechanism. This movement provides these timepieces with subdials at 6 and 12 o’clock.
The most casual Portugiesers come on a rubber strap that matches the particular model’s dial color – namely blue or black on stainless steel chronographs. The ref. IW390505 features a rose gold case, slate-colored dial, and black rubber strap. The rose gold Yacht Club Moon & Tide ref. IW344001 sets itself apart with its larger 44.6-mm case and extraordinary caliber. The 82835 provides the watch with a tide display for both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, as well as the so-called neap and spring tides.
Three-hand Portuguesier watches have a lot in common with the original model from 1939, making them the most authentic in the collection. Vintage timepieces from the 1940s are extremely rare and expensive, but you occasionally see one pop up on Chrono24. It’s a similar story with the limited edition from 1993. If you don’t have your heart absolutely set on a vintage timepiece, we’d recommend setting your sights on a model from the current catalog.
As of 2020, the current line-up consists of five models, four of which belong to the Portugieser Automatic 40 series. There are three stainless steel and one rose gold version to choose from, each of which is housed in a 40.4-mm case. The dials of the stainless steel watches are silver-plated or blue, while the gold ref. IW358306 only comes with a silver-plated dial. Each watch in this series has a sapphire crystal display case back and is powered by the in-house, automatic caliber 82220 with a small seconds at 6 o’clock.
The Portugieser Minute Repeater ref. IW544907 is likewise made of rose gold but is significantly larger at 44.2 mm in diameter. Its movement, the in-house manual caliber 98950, features a minute repeater for the hours, quarter hours, and minutes and can relay the time acoustically upon activation by the wearer. The small seconds also comes with a stop mechanism. The beautifully finished movement is protected by the sapphire crystal display case back. This exclusive watch is limited to a production run of just 500 pieces.
Portugiesers With Unique Complications
In addition to the aforementioned Yacht Club Moon & Tide, IWC offers a number of other Portugieser models with elaborate complications, including a version with a perpetual calendar (ref. IW503301). Watches with this function are available in several different design and dial combinations, as well as in your choice of stainless steel or rose gold. The ref. IW503501, on the other hand, comes with an annual calendar. Then there’s the ref. IW504602 with a flying tourbillon and retrograde date display. The real highlight of this collection, however, is the platinum Portugieser Grande Complication ref. IW377601, which comes with 20 different functions. This is one of the most complicated IWC watches ever made and boasts a perpetual calendar, minute repeater, and moon phase display, to name just a few of its special features.
Price and Performance
IWC watches are generally considered stable in value; major price appreciation is rare. That being said, performance depends heavily on the specific model and its functionality.
A mint-condition ref. IW371446 costs roughly $6,700 on Chrono24. This price has been pretty consistent since mid-2012. If you instead choose a pre-owned watch, expect to save a little over $1,000. This watch’s successor with an in-house movement (ref. IW371605) demands around $7,600 new, though its official list price is $7,950. Thus, you can save over $300 by purchasing this timepiece on Chrono24. Used versions cost significantly less at around $6,000.
You can purchase a stainless steel Portugieser Automatic watch with two subdials (such as the ref. IW500704) new on Chrono24 for approx. $11,000, which is a substantial discount from the official list price of $12,700. Pre-owned watches are much more affordable at around $7,800. Back in 2015, this model cost just under $10,000 new and $7,600 used, suggesting prices have remained relatively stable over the last half-decade. Prices for rose gold versions like the ref. IW500702 have barely changed over the past four years and currently sit around $20,500 for a mint-condition watch and $15,500 for a used model. The official list price of this watch is $23,900.
Three-hand varieties are occasionally available on the vintage market. If you manage to find a well-preserved timepiece from the 1940s, expect to pay at least $47,000. On the other hand, limited-edition stainless steel models from 1993 cost roughly $16,500. That being said, your search will be much easier and affordable if you’re after a watch from the modern collection. The entry-point to the current catalog is the ref. IW358303, which sells for just over $7,000 new on Chrono24. This is slightly below its official list price of $7,250. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a used version of this watch. The rose gold edition requires an investment of around $15,500 on Chrono24, compared to the MSRP of $16,900.
Complicated watches like the ref. IW504602 with a flying tourbillon have consistently cost between $78,000 and $80,000 over the past four years. If you want to go for the crème de la crème, look no further than the Grande Complication, which will set you back just shy of $200,000 on Chrono24 – that’s significantly less than its official list price of $235,000.