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IWC Portuguese Grande Complication
A brilliant mind
Intelligence is a funny thing, some are blessed with desirable levels, yet others are less fortunate.
Over the years I have met individuals who possess high intelligence in one vector, yet somehow cannot perform the most mundane everyday tasks.
Some individuals, who are incredibly intelligent, seem to court madness, playing a game of brinksmanship between excellence and insanity.
An intelligent mind can be highly attractive.
Marilyn Monroe, probably the most iconically beautiful woman of her era, was allegedly attracted to Albert Einstein and was rumoured to have had a relationship with him.
Monroe despite her screen persona was indeed very intelligent. It was Einstein’s intellect and personality which was said to appeal to Marilyn. After the death of Marilyn Monroe a signed picture of Einstein was said to be found in her cherished possessions.
In 1985, a fiction film titled, “Insignificance” played with the idea of four iconic figures from the 1950’s meeting and their interaction. Marilyn Monroe, Joseph McCarthy, Joe DiMaggio and Albert Einstein provided the inspiration for the roles; The Actress, The Senator, The Ballplayer and The Professor.
At a dinner party, Einstein and Monroe were seated together. She apparently remarked, “I want to have your child. With my looks and your brains, it will be a perfect child”. However, Eistein replied, “But what if it has my looks and your brains?”
The raison d’etre for this preamble is that I have found the horological equivalent of Marilyn’s idealised child.
The IWC Portuguese Grande Complication possesses the good looks of other models which form the handsome Portuguese range. Yet, there is a brilliant intellect behind the pulchritudinous form which toys with my lovesick eyes.
Let me take you along the periphery of the red carpet, camera in hand and invite you to join me in admiring the horological star which is worthy of treading the crimson coloured pathway.
A silver plated dial bestows a sense of prestige. It is engraved with a globe, scribed with lines expressing different longitudes and latitudes. The Portuguese has always paid respect to seafarers who tackled hostile waters and used a timepiece to navigate to uncharted distant lands.
Applied Arabic numerals in red gold are used to indicate the hours. They are sans serif, simple and elegant.
A minute rail circumnavigates the dial in an unfussy black hue. Each hourly integer is marked with a short gold baton, matching the adjacent numerals.
Slim gold hands, slightly arced in profile, indicate hours and minutes. They are clean, conveying time succinctly, without unduly dominating the dial.
Below noon, is a moon phase indicator, delivered on one of four subdials. The moon and stars are red gold, proffering peerless contrast with the black night sky. A slender gold hand points to a scale around the periphery of the subdial. This is the 30-minute chrono counter.
The subdial located at 3 o’clock is reserved for the date indication. Red text is applied to the most northerly integer, “31”. This is congruent with the design language used on all subdials.
At 6 o’clock the subdial imparts two functions; 12-hour chrono counter to the centre and month indication on the outer edge.
Between 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock resides a four digit year display. It is programmed to show the years up to 2499, a date beyond the comprehension of most of us.
A subsidiary seconds display is located at 9 o’clock. However, faithful to IWC heritage, this is no mere subsidiary seconds but a hacking seconds. The hacking seconds allows the wearer to stop and start the seconds by pulling the crown and pushing it home respectively. Around the circumference of the subdial is a day display.
Finally, a central chrono seconds hand is proudly presented in red gold.
There is much detail and information on the dial, yet everything coalesces in attractive accord. Nothing is overly loud. All members of the choir sing as one in pleasing harmony.
The watch is 45 mm in diameter and I found it was very comfortable as it sat in happy union with my left wrist. With a case height of 16.5 mm, the watch feels substantial, appealing to my own need to feel the value.
All surfaces are highly polished, save for the caseband which is satin brushed. IWC have perfectly judged the ratio of polished and satin-brushed surfaces.
The caseback is solid, beautifully engraved with an image of a sextant. It reminds me of my youth as a navigation student carrying parallel rulers, dividers and Norie’s Nautical Tables in my ink stained hands.
There is a part of me that would have preferred the view afforded by a sapphire caseback. However, you do not need to be Sigmund Freud to know that there is a spellbinding intellect at work within the case.
Chrono-pushers reside at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock. They are rectangular in profile, but with rounded edges.
The knurled crown does not excessively protrude. It bears the words “Probus Scafusia”, “Good solid, craftsmanship from Schaffhausen”, on its vertical flank.
On the westerly aspect of the case is a highly polished slide. This activates the minute repeater which chimes the hours, quarters and minutes.
The calibre 79091 is a self-winding movement with a power reserve of 44 hours when fully wound.
A grand complication is the ultimate expression of the horologer's craft. This model brings together a chronograph, a perpetual calendar and a minute repeater. The latter is probably my favourite complication as I never fail to smile when I hear the tuneful chimes of gongs striking the wire loops residing within the case.
The perpetual calendar makes allowance for the varying lengths of days in each month, including February, unlike an annual calendar and even takes into account the variation in the annual days in each leap year. Adjustment is required every one hundred years providing you keep the watch wound by wearing it or using a suitable winder.
Complexity of manufacture prevents mass production. There are only a handful of artisans in any watch company who can work at this elevated level, hence IWC can only produce 100 models per annum.
Frequent readers of ESCAPEMENT will note that I seldom bother writing about straps. However, this watch does not have an ordinary strap. The brown alligator leather strap is hand-stitched using 18-carat red gold thread.
A deployant enhances wearer comfort. It features a brushed 18-carat gold clasp with corresponding branding. No detail has been overlooked.
I will never be a great poker player. I have probably showed my hand within the first few lines of this article.
I do love this watch.
It is handsome, masculine with chiseled good looks befitting the silver screen. Yet, with the IWC Portuguese Grande Complication there is a deep intellect and brilliant mind.
The cranium of the watch judiciously plays with line and form, yet provides a home for a multi-talented mechanical mind, engineered to an exceptionally high standard.
The parentage of the Portuguese Grande Complication is not in question. It proudly proclaims IWC Schaffhausen on the birth certificate. It is a rare blend of good looks and exceptional intelligence.
- Model: IWC Portuguese Grande Complication
- Reference: IW377402
- Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 44.00 mm; height 16.5 mm ; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid engraved case back.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small hacking seconds; Chronograph; Perpetual calendar with displays for the date, day, month, year in four digits and perpetual moon phase; Minute repeater.
- Movement: Calibre 79091, self-winding; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz) ; 75 jewels; power reserve 44 hours.
- Strap: Brown hand-stitched alligator strap with 18-carat red gold thread supplied on 18-carat red gold deployant.