Watches: IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar

By Thierry Ané on January 5, 2015

For a long time the prerogative of Patek Philippe, the annual calendar has become a very well-known complication among watch enthusiasts as many brands have included in their catalogue this useful bridge between the simple and non-expensive time and date timepiece and the highly sophisticated and equally costly perpetual calendar model.

Basically, the annual calendar offers you the date, day-of-the-week, and month indications with the ability to take into account the differing lengths of individual months except for the month of February. Leap year or not, at the end of this month, the owner of an annual calendar will thus have to manually correct the calendar indications through the crown. A little inconvenience compared to the perpetual calendar watches that won’t need any correction until February 28, 2100 (February 29 will be deleted from this “leap year”), but the difference in price tag makes it a sensible choice for anyone in search of a fine timepiece with true horological complications without breaking the bank.

The year 2015 will be under the sign of the “Portugieser” for Swiss luxury brand IWC (“Portugieser” was the original name of what many know as the “Portuguese”, and is now again the name of the collection) and, for the first time, this extremely useful complication will enter this legendary collection with the brand new 52850 calibre. It took IWC more than 5 years in development to perfect this refined movement entirely produced in-house. In addition to its calendar functions, this self-winding masterpiece featuring the latest and improved Pellaton winding system relies on two barrels to provide an impressive 7-day power reserve, a characteristic of many other Portugieser models but rarely seen associated with an annual calendar in the industry!

Three versions of the “Portugieser Annual Calendar” should be officially presented during the forthcoming SIHH in Geneva: a prestigious red gold model with a silver-plated dial and a stainless steel rendering with the same dial colour for which no pictures are available yet. Another model will be a vailable in stainless steel with a stunning midnight blue dial with sun-pattern finish. All three models are mounted on black Alligator strap made by Santoni and secured by folding buckles in the same material as the case.

Visually, these beautiful watches are perfectly in line with the “Portugieser” aesthetics: a large round case (here 44.20 x 15.30 mm) with a grooved bezel and curved strap horns ensuring great comfort even on slim wrists as well as a perfectly legible dial with leaf-shaped hands, a classic railway-track-style chapter ring and applied Arabic numerals. The small seconds sub-dial placed at 9 o’clock is elegantly balanced by the iconic 7-day circular power reserve indicator at the 3 o’clock position with the last-24-hours zone in red.

In order not to obstruct the wonderful simplicity of the “Portugieser” dial, the annual calendar indications have all been placed in separate semi-circular windows spanning from 11 to 1 o’clock, just above an “annual calendar” inscription. This ensemble is mirrored by the brand’s name proudly sitting at the 6 o’clock position. Observant watch lovers will have noticed the “American” order in which the date is shown (i.e., the month then the date followed by the day-of-the-week). We have been told that this was as much a technical imperative as it was a design tribute to Florentine Aristo Jones, IWC’s American founder.

The show is equally interesting from the see-though sapphire crystal back as we are treated with an unimpeded view of the exquisitely finished 52850 calibre. This new addition to the 52000-calibre family showcases the new rotor with the solid gold “Probus Scafusia” medallion and slimmer and more open bridges to allow a better view of the expertly decorated components of the movement.

Whether in stainless steel or red gold, the new “Portugieser Annual Calendar” is a stunning example of IWC’s ability to blend cutting-edge watchmaking expertise with refined traditional and timeless design. This watch is simply beautiful and we don’t need more qualifying adjectives to describe what will undoubtedly become a classic and a new pillar of the legendary “Portugieser” saga.

More on this incredible watch, including live pictures, with our SIHH 2015 coverage…

For more information please visit the IWC web site.

For a technical description of the timepieces and additional pictures: