In 1984, IWC adapted an existing pocket watch, turning its movement through an angle of 90° and housing it within a wristwatch case. This watch, the Portofino Reference. 5251, with the crown positioned at 3 o’clock, was the inaugural model of a collection which continues to be sold to this day.
The Portofino Reference. 5251 featured Breguet style hour and minute hands. Unusually, the moon-phase indication was positioned at 3 o’clock with the small second’s display located opposite, a legacy of the pocket watch from which it derived.
This idiosyncratic dial layout was addressed with the subsequent release of the Portofino Hand-Wound Reference. 5448 in 2008, part of the brand’s ‘Vintage Collection’. This model, unveiled in the same year the Swiss watch company celebrated its 140th anniversary, featured a moon-phase below noon and a small seconds display above 6 o’clock.
In 2011, IWC revisited its Portofino collection, updating some existing lines and releasing two new models, the Portofino Dual Time and the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days. This latter model represented an interesting chapter in the history of IWC as it contained the 59210 calibre.
IWC has for some time moved increasingly towards producing its own in-house movements. When the Swiss watch company released the 59210 calibre it was proclaimed as the ‘first hand-wound movement from Schaffhausen with an eight-day power reserve.’
Since 2011, IWC has continued to enlarge its family of Portofino models. Surprisingly, for a company which for many years employed the strapline, ‘Engineered for Men’, IWC launched a small number of automatic gem-set Portofino models in 2014. Whilst these models were not overtly proclaimed as ladies’ watches, many females may be drawn to the generously proportioned 40mm case and diamond-set bezel.
Building on the success of the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days, IWC released the Portofino Hand-Wound Big Date, sharing much in common with its older sibling, but with the date display employing two date discs instead of one.
Part of the appeal of the Portofino collection is the timeless, classical aesthetics which confer a lasting allure, a trait shared with the attractive locale which lends its name to these elegant timepieces.