This is certainly going to be a great year for the refreshed Portofino range of entry-luxury watches. Besides the dressy Portofino Dual Time and the elegant Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days, IWC has also presented a face-lifted Portofino Automatic (Ref. 3565): a modern-classic three-hander with a simple calendar.
Previously available in a rather bulky 38 mm case, the face-lifted version now comes in a larger, but more slender-looking 40-millimeter body even though the timekeeper’s thickness seems to remain the same 9.50 millimeters. It is that rare occasion when making a watch larger makes it dressier thanks to better proportions.
Thanks to a slimmer bezel and a set of longer baton-shaped hour indexes, the new version now looks a lot dressier and visually lighter while still preserving its “sporty” appearance. In fact, with the new shape of the relatively slim case, the entry-level model climbs a step or two closer to (a lot) more expensive Portuguese range.
Beating inside this beautiful watch, is the well-known IWC Caliber 35110 automatic movement, which, to my knowledge, is based on either the Sellita SW300 or ETA 2892 self-winding blank caliber that somehow reduces their resale value. Also, initially designed for the previous generation of significantly smaller watches, the movement betrays its lower pedigree via the gadget’s dial: even on these promotional pictures, you can see how far the calendar aperture stays from the bezel. Well, at least IWC was smart enough to offer the Portofino 3565 with a solid case-back to hide the inexpensive mechanism.
However, being only 3.60 mm in height, the movement allowed for a pretty slim case, which is just 9.50 mm thick (including a convex sapphire crystal that offers an anti-reflective coating on its inner and outer sides.)
Like the rest of the family, the ref. 3565 offers a vintage-inspired dial layout with superb legibility.
The dial itself is offered either in black or in silver-plated versions with the small date display in a matching color — also a nice (and extremely rare in this price range) touch.
As for the price range, the most affordable variety (the one in stainless steel on leather strap) is fairly affordable with an MSRP of just $4500 (although some may say that a watch powered by Sellita or even an ETA-based mechanism should not be that expensive, I can only say that at least IWC invests some time and effort into fine-tuning them, making them more accurate and even more reliable than the blank calibers,) while the version in rose gold and diamonds will predictably cost more than $15,000.
It’s always for you to decide whether the piece is worth the money.
IWC Portofino (Refs. IW356516 & IW356502) specification
Price: $4500 (MSRP, ref. IW356502 in steel) / $18,000 (MSRP, ref. IW356516 in rose gold with diamonds)
Movement: Automatic, IWC Caliber 35110, 25.60 mm in diameter, 3.60 mm in height, 28,800 vph, based on Sellita SW300, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, central seconds, date
Power reserve: 42 hours
Case: Rose gold or Stainless steel
Size: 40.00 mm
Case height: 9.50 mm
Dial: Silver-plated or Black
Hands: Rose gold or Steel
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Stainless steel Milanese mesh bracelet (can be adjusted to the wearer’s wrist in five-millimeter stages) OR An alligator leather strap
Back: Solid (Rose gold version features an engraved view of the harbor of Portofino on the case back)