IWC has revealed a nice addition to its splendid Portofino range of oversized timekeepers. Always conservative in its approach, extremely reluctant when it comes to evolving its design language, the Swiss watchmaker again brings us a watch that features all the elements that we loved so much in their 2011 IWC Portofino Eight Days that was equipped with the hand-wound Cal. 59210 (Ref. 5101) with only ones mall change: the IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Big Date Boutique Edition (Refs. IW516102 / IW516101) has the original simple calendar display replaced with a lot more appealing Big Date indicator.
Still, even despite its overwhelming visual similarity to the model 5101, this is definitely not a ‘clone’ of the older model that was simply refreshed here and there.
The first of all, the Portofino Big Date is equipped with a different movement. Belonging to the same 59000 series, the new Caliber 59230 with its oversized bridges and finely executed vertical Geneva Stripes still looks like it was designed to be inserted into a much larger pocket watch.
Since modification was not a major one, the mechanism is still built on the same 30 jewels, beats at a pretty much standard frequency of 28,800 semi-oscillations per hour and offers an impressive power reserve of 192 hours (whole eight days!)
Also, the body, which is currently available in 18-karat rose and white gold, is, too, slightly larger than that of the 2011 model sporting impressive 45 millimeters in diameter. Although the size of this thing will probably make it unsuitable to a lot of enthusiasts, it still nicely reiterates the Portofino‘s reliance with pocket watches of the past (the legend says that the first watch in their legendary Portuguese family was actually a real pocket timekeeper that was modified by IWC to be worn on a wrist, not inside a pocket.)
As usual, the Portofino Big Date features a clean, easily readable dial with only five indicators: hours and minutes (represented by a pair of leaf-shaped hands plated either in gold or in rhodium available with rose gold and white gold versions respectively), a small seconds indicator at 6 hours, a power reserve display between 8 and 9 o’clock, and, of course, the aforementioned Big Date display at 12 hours. By the way, although the dial looks great, I am not sure about the combination of the Roman “XII” hour marker with the Arabic date display. Not that it is a design mistake, they just don’t match as seamlessly as you would expect from a watch of this pedigree.
It is reported that the watch will be available only through IWC’s own chain of boutiques, which is a pity, since there are not so many of them in smaller countries, especially in Eastern Europe and the Far East.
With a street price of approximately $22,000 (it will depend on your local taxes and other factors when the watch finally hits a store near you,) this is surely an expensive little gadget. However, I dare say that this Portofino Big Date isn’t priced above the market with its massive gold case and a refined movement.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
IWC Portofino Big Date Boutique Edition (Refs. IW516102 / IW516101) specification
Price: $22,000 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, IWC in-house caliber 59230, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 30
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 192 hours (8 days)
Movement decoration: Vertical Geneva Stripes
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, big date, power reserve indicator
Case: 18-karat gold (white or rose)
Size: 45.00 mm
Case height: 13.00 mm
Dial: Silver-plated / Slate-plated
Hour markers: Gold-plated / Rhodium-plated
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black or brown Santoni alligator leather strap with pin buckle in 18-karat gold (matching case)
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective