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Portofino - where Dolce Vita met Haute Horology
Portofino is one of Italy’s trendiest and most stylish resorts. A small fishing village on the Italian Riviera, it has a history of glamour, attracting the likes of Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Rex Harrison and most famously Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor.
The famed crescent shaped shorelineof Portofino is only a short distance from the French border. The close proximity to the Côte d’Azur has led to a fusion of the “beautiful people” from two of Europe’s most stylish nations.
It is no surprise that IWC chose to use the “Portofino” name to describe some of its pulchritudinous horological delights. The soporific village awakens from hibernation for the summer season and is the perfect personification of beauty and sophistication.
Sophistication is a word that comes to mind, as you stare at the majesty of the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days in 18-carat red gold with a slate dial.
The case and dial
I fell for this watch the first time I saw it. The Portofino range is blessed with many stunning beauties, however it is the Portofino Hand Wound Eight Days that could result in my horological monogamy. The 18-carat red gold case provides a warm hue. The dial is “ardoise”, a slate coloured shade.
Gold indices are used, except at 12 o’clock where Roman numerals are preferred. A date display is provided at 3 o’clock and a subsidiary seconds dial features at 6 o’clock. Located at 9 o’clock is the arc of the power reserve indicator.
The rounded profile of the case sides is congruent with the gentle persona portrayed by the dial and the image of Portofino itself.
The 59210 calibre
Whenever, I pick up a fine timepiece, I quickly turn it over to admire the calibre within. On occasions, I am left disappointed because the solid case back prevents my gazing at the naked form that lurks within. On other occasions, the sapphire back affords a view of a plain, unadorned, lacklustre movement, which does not inspire and is perfunctory in its presentation. However, the 59210 calibre captivates the interest of the watch enthusiast and renders this usually talkative soul, speechless.
It is simply gorgeous.
The Swiss stripes which feature on the calibre are only interrupted with further engraving and gold lettering informing its wearer of the 30 jewels, its country of origin, its manufacturers name and other legends which convey the quality.
Stare more intently and you can see the perlage peeping between the bridges, the screwed balance with Breguet overcoil and numerous rubies, like almandine coloured eyes ready to hypnotise the owner.
At the epicentre of the calibre is the famous IWC circular quality mark with the motto “Probus Scafusia”, meaning “good, solid craftsmanship from Schaffhausen”. Having owned one or two IWC watches in my lifetime, I would never question this claim.
Whilst I own automatic wristwatches, there is a purity in the tradition of a hand wound movement and with a power reserve of 192 hours, there is little disadvantage.
IWC engineer the watch to cease operation after the maximum 8 days has elapsed without winding even though the mainspring still harnesses sufficient energy to operate for a further 24 hours. This is to prevent the watch losing accuracy as the mainspring tension diminishes. Simply haute horology at its best.
I normally, do not say much about the strap only to ever record the material it is made from and whether it is fitted with a pin buckle or deployant. However, this is no ordinary strap. IWC have sought beautiful Italian leather straps from Santoni, a company better known for its beautiful shoes.
It is another example of an artisan understanding the interface between tools and materials and creating something that provides an excellence which surpasses “satisfactory” and embraces perfection.
The tone of the leather, the precision of the stitching, the texture and the feel, surpass the norm.
Why settle for less?
When Swiss haute horology and Italian style and flair come together you have a supreme creation. It seldom gets better than the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days.
- Model: IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days
- Model Reference: 5101
- Case: 18-carat red gold; diameter 45mm; height 12mm; sapphire case back; water resistant 3bar
- Functions: Hours; minutes; subsidiary seconds; date; power reserve
- Calibre Reference: 59210
- Calibre: Hand Wound; Frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); Breguet spring; Power reserve 192 hours; small hacking seconds.
- Strap: brown alligator strap with pin buckle