Watches: IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Ocean Racer

By Thierry Ané on October 14, 2014

Formerly known as the Whitbread Round the World Race, the Volvo Ocean Race is one of the most spectacular off-shore sailing events in the nautical calendar. Held every three years, this around the globe competition kicked off in Alicante, Spain, earlier this month with an in-port race and will travel the world for ten legs or so, including in-port races at many of the stopover cities, until it reaches Gothenburg, its final destination in Sweden, in June 2015.

For the second time, the Schaffhausen manufacture will be the event's Official Timekeeper as well as the Official Sponsor of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team that enrolled three years ago under IWC's colours as the first Arab challenger in the history of the race.

With one of its best-selling collections, the famous "Portuguese", deeply anchored into the world of sailing all the way back to the precision nautical instruments used by seafarers to discover the world, IWC surely stands out as a legitimate partner for yacht racing.

And, just like the very first steel wristwatches with marine chronometer accuracy they developed at the end of the 1930s for two Portuguese businessmen, the manufacture known for the ruggedness and reliability of its models had to produce something special for the battling teams. Something able to withstand the sometimes extreme conditions of this incredible and captivating race...

Three years ago, the brand unveiled the Portuguese Yacht Club Volvo Ocean Race for the occasion. The timepiece was the very first "Yacht Club" model crafted in titanium and also showcased a very technical-looking carbon fibre dial suitable for this edition.

The sturdy "Yacht Club" interpretation of the legendary Portuguese is the only model of the line featuring crown protectors, bringing a lot of character to the generous 45.4 * 14.5 mm case. It was launched in 2010 in stainless steel with either silver or black dial together with a more luxurious red gold version with an elegant slate grey face.

Apart from the 2011 Volvo Ocean Rate rendition, IWC only offered three other limited editions based on this great multi-purpose timepiece so far, making it all the more desirable.

In 2013, the manufacture used a "Yacht Club" to create the 2013's Edition Laureus Sport for Good Foundation timepiece with a refined blue sunray dial. Two more limited runs were introduced earlier this year: the steel Boutique Edition featuring silver sub-dials on its black face as well as a 5-piece luxurious Amsterdam 2014 model for the boutique opening crafted in red gold.

Limited or not, all the pieces introduced so far were mounted on a sporty black rubber strap secured by a folding buckle. For its second involvement with the Volvo Ocean Race and the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team, IWC proudly presents the Yacht Club Ocean Racer featuring a much more sophisticated black alligator strap sewn onto rubber for comfort and durability.

However, the strap of this 45.4 mm stainless steel watch is clearly not its unique distinctive feature. The presence of highly contrasting blue hands and indices on the silver-plated dial also give this "Yacht Club" a decidedly younger and trendier look. The good look is not their unique raison d'être, though: coated in SuperLuminova, they help make this already extremely legible model easy to read in all conditions.

Apart from the obvious access to the movement, the sapphire crystal on the back reveals another particularity of this 1000-piece limited edition: the 360 degree rotor has been shaped like a ship's wheel and the inscription "IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Ocean Racer" surrounds the sapphire glass.

Inside the watch beats the same in-house 89361 calibre as the rest of the "Yacht Club" line. This reliable self-winding movement entirely developed and produced in the brand's manufacture features IWC's double-pawl winding system and offers 68 hours of power reserve when fully wound.

This chronograph that counts among the most modern and robust on the market is equipped with a useful Flyback function and displays the short time measurements in an analog way thanks to a totaliser located at 12 o'clock with two hands for the 60-minute and 12-hour timings. A small seconds counter at 6 o'clock evens out the design and the date window is classically placed at 3 o'clock.

All things considered, this Portuguese Yacht Club Ocean Racer is a great-looking variation on an already extremely appealing watch. Contemporary, technical, all-purpose, reliable... You won't fail to find qualifying adjectives to describe this stunning watch. A model that is also a very good value for money if you needed one more reason to be tempted...

For more information please visit the IWC web site.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: