IWC Portuguese Watches from LSMwatch.com
IWC released the Portuguese watch in 1939, and it is still considered today one of the most popular and recognizable watches of the entire IWC lineage. The history of the Portuguese watch began when two Portuguese businessmen, Rodrigues and Teixeira, proposing the development of a large stainless steel wrist watch housing a movement that could match the precision of a marine chronometer watch. In order to accomplish this feat the international Watch Company (as IWC was known at the time as) used a pocket watch movement within a hunter style case to allow crown placement at 3 o'clock in the chronometer watch. The original 43mm diameter of the case of the watch was considered far larger than normal when the chronograph watch was first debuted, but in retrospect served as a precursor to the popularity of larger watch styles which are prevalent today. The key design elements of the Portuguese watch include a streamlined dial with Arabic numbers, a very thin bezel contributing to make the watch look even larger, leaf hands, and a large sub-dial at six o’clock for the second calculations. During the watches early years of the 1940;s and 1950's the Portuguese watch was produced in limited numbers; in the early 1940's only 304 total Portuguese watches with the Calibre 74 movement were produced and an additional 371 Portuguese watches were produced with the Calibre 98 and Calibre 982 movements from the 1940s through the 1970s. In these years IWC sold a small number of Portuguese watches, never quite enough to justify large-scale production of the watch. Production of the Portuguese watch had all but ceased until the early 1990's when a customer visited the IWC watch headquarters wearing an original Portuguese watch, somehow the right people took note of this watch and it was decided in 1993, at the 125th anniversary of IWC, that a new model of the Portuguese watch should be produced to honor the monumental occasion. The anniversary model of the IWC Portuguese watch introduced styling cues still enjoyed by its contemporaries, such as rivet style minute and hour markers, and modern Arabic numerals applied to the dial of the watch. The anniversary chronograph model of the Portuguese watch was a "time only" model that inspired countless variations with everything from chronograph features to minute repeaters to perpetual calendars and automatic movements rounding out the Portuguese watch family. The limited edition re-introduction of the Portuguese watch by IWC featured a case diameter of 42 mm and a thickness of 9 mm, a silver dial, applied platinum Arabic numerals and dots indexes and typical Feuille hands. The chronograph watch was produced in 1750 pieces: 1000 in stainless steel, 500 in rose gold, 250 in platinum.
In 1995 IWC released the Portuguese Minute Repeaters watch, featuring IWC's repetition minutes module.
In 2000, after four years of development, IWC unveiled the Portuguese Automatic watch with a new in-house automatic movement, incorporating a bi-directional automatic winding system identical to the famous patented system of IWC designed in the early 1950s, as well as a seven-day power reserve with indicator on the dial of the automatic watch. The automatic watch was produced in limited numbers by IWC with 2000 made in total, featuring subtle variations available in the 42.3 mm case of the automatic watch such as stainless steel, 18K rose gold, yellow gold, or white gold, and platinum in the automatic watch.
In 2003 IWC debuted a new complication, the Portuguese Perpetual Calendar watch, featuring the newly developed perpetual calendar mechanism within a stainless steel, 18K gold, or platinum 44mm case.
In 2008 IWC released a hand wound vintage Portuguese chronograph watch featuring railway track-style chapter ring and arched-edge front glass, the watch bore a striking resemblance to the 1939 original chronograph watch but, from a technical point of view, was state of the art watch.
IWC has always been known as a forward-thinking company with an eye toward innovation which is evident in every watch produced and re-produced by the company whether it be chronograph, quartz, or automatic, nowhere is this more evident than in the Portuguese watch.