From a marketing perspective, IWC has been dedicating each year to a particular watch collection. 2013 is all about the Ingenieur, but again, that is just from a marketing and PR perspective. There is more on the IWC plate. Another new release for 2013 is rather important for fans of the Portuguese collection. Updated and arguably more sporty than ever, this is the best Portuguese chronograph watch to date. Called the Portuguese Chronograph Classic, it builds on the design of the Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph that was originally debuted in 2012 (hands-on here).
The Portuguese Chronograph Classic isn't meant to replace the standard Portuguese Chronograph, but rather to offer a different flavor. It borrows heavily (including the movement) from the Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph, and is a sort of hybrid model between the sportier Yacht Club and the standard Chronograph. Compared to the standard Chronograph, the Classic is larger, contains an in-house made IWC automatic chronograph movement, has a revised dial, higher-end strap, and more aggressively designed case.
In the comparison image above you can see just how different the two Portuguese Chronograph models are, even though at a glance they are very similar. The sportier case is 42mm wide versus 40.1mm wide, further wearing larger due to the thick lugs (note that the Classic is also 2mm thicker). Having said that, the dial on the original Chronograph is liable to appear a bit larger given its thinner bezel. Unlike the lume-filled hands of the Yacht Club, the Classic has similar thick hands, but they instead have a dark colored strip bisecting them. It in an interesting touch.
Both models have similar applied Arabic numeral hour markers and slightly recessed chronograph subdials. One thing lacking on the Classic is a sloped flange ring, which the normal Chronograph does have. The flange ring is a feature I personally like and helps the dial look larger, and of course cleaner. Not having a flange ring allows the bezel to be a bit more burly, and results in a dial that is probably intentionally more cluttered and instrument-like versus formal in style. While the standard Portuguese Chronograph has a monochromatic dial, the Classic has sporty red accents. I am extremely happy to see that the dial does not contain a tachymeter or some other useless scale that no one uses.
For most watch lovers, the biggest difference between the two Portuguese chronograph watches won't be the extra millimeter in size or the different case design, but rather the movement. The Portuguese Chronograph contains an IWC caliber 79350 which is a base Swiss ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic chronograph which is reworked a bit by IWC. The Portuguese Chronograph Classic however contains the IWC in-house made caliber 89361 automatic chronograph (with a flyback complication). Both watches have a bi-compax subdial array, but the caliber 89361 uses the upper dial to indicate both the minutes and hours (with two hands) - making it possible to measure up to 12 hours versus 30 minutes. It is true that the base 7750 is able to measure 12 hours, but IWC removes the hour counter for style purposes for these watches. Also, the Chronograph Classic has a date window, while the standard Chronograph has the date feature not visible on the dial. The caliber 89361 also has a longer power reserve of 68 hours.
From a style perspective there is an argument to be made about each of the dials, but collectors will no doubt enjoy the extra functionality of the Classic version of the Portuguese Chronograph. At launch there will be four versions of the new Portuguese available. Either steel or 18k red gold with a silver-plated or ardoise dial. Each comes with a case-fitted Santoni alligator strap. Really a solid collection, and certainly something to consider if you've been eying a Portuguese for a while. Prices for the steel Portuguese Chronograph Classic in steel is $13,000 (versus $7,900 for the Portuguese Chronograph), and $24,200 in 18k red gold (versus $16,400). iwc.com
Mechanical chronograph movement
68-hour power reserve when fully wound
Stopwatch function with hours, minutes and seconds
Hour and minute counters combined at 12 o’clock
Small hacking seconds
See-through sapphire-glass back
Frequency: 28,800 A/h / 4 Hz
Power Reserve: 68 h
Materials: Ref. IW390402: 18-carat red gold case, silver-plated dial, dark brown Santoni alligator leather strap, pin buckle in 18-carat red gold
Ref. IW390405: 18-carat red gold case, slate-coloured dial, black Santoni alligator leather strap, pin buckle in 18-carat red gold
Ref. IW390404: stainless-steel case, slate-coloured dial, black Santoni alligator leather strap, folding clasp in stainless steel
Ref. IW390403: stainless-steel case, silver-plated dial, black Santoni alligator leather strap, folding clasp in stainless steel
Glass: sapphire, arched edge, antireflective coating on both sides
Back: See-through sapphire glass
Water resistance: 3 bar
Diameter: 42 mm
Case height: 14.5 mm