IWC, which reserved the year for the rebirth of the Da Vinci Collection, is under the spotlight with its Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref. IW516401 model which was among the novelties introduced during SIHH 2017 but mostly overshadowed by the new Da Vinci and Ingenieur models.
I was at the IWC’s beautiful boutique at Nişantaşı – Istanbul last week. Actually, the reason for my visit was mostly to see the new Aquatimer 2000 (limited to 350 pieces) model in person. However, I was totally distracted when I notice the Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref. IW516401 model.
IWC, which presented its new models to the watch enthusiasts at the SIHH exhibition held in January this year, has not broken the tradition which has been going on for many years and focused on a specific collection again for the new season. The brand that was highly appreciated with the revamped Pilot models last year showed up with the updated the Da Vinci Collection as the primary focus for this year. As a result, the new collection has always been at the forefront in places such as press bulletins and introductions. But of course the renewed models were not limited to the Da Vinci Collection. The new Ingenieur Collection was also presented during SIHH 2017 and got mixed reviews. One of the new models introduced among all this traffic was the Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase.
Interestingly, in the Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref. IW516401, I have found many things that I like and do not like at the same time. Before I get to the conclusion part, let’s have a close look at the timepiece.
First of all, it is very important for me to see the good old Moon Phase feature on a 45mm classic Portofino case. You may ask why… Well, about thirty years ago Portofino was born with a Moon Phase indicator housed by a pretty hefty case. However, the collection was deprived of this feature for a long time. There is of course the Automatic Moon Phase 37 model family in the current product line but with its 37mm case diameter and variants available with gem-settings, that model is a bit irrelevant to the matter.
IWC Portofino Moon Phase 37
When we search IWC’s archives with the keywords Portofino and Moon Phase, the model Ref. 5251 pops up which is also the model I have here for review is obviously inspired by. Despite being classified as a wristwatch, that model was powered by a pocket watch movement that has been modified with a Moon Phase module.
The first IWC Portofino Ref.5251
The model’s case is designed in classic Portofino style. At the beginning of the article, I mentioned that I have found some conflicting points about this timepiece. Here’s the first one; the thin and straight lug form… When it comes to classic timepieces that we call “dress watches”, I always prefer lugs that close through an angle to the center. Is it better in terms of wearing comfort..? I don’t think so but to me, it looks way more elegant than straight lugs. However, the straight lug design actually provides a perfectly elegant look on that classic Portofino case measuring 45mm in diameter. It makes you feel like you have a pocket watch strapped to your wrist (and I like it). The case is fully mirror polished. In fact, I do not like full mirror polish cases as the reflections hide the cases’ lines and mostly make them look smaller. However, this is not an issue for me with this timepiece as the case mostly does not have any significant lines and the diameter is large enough to look smaller.
The case sports anti-glare coated scratch resistant sapphire crystals on both sides. Like the lugs, the bezel and the metal part of the display caseback are also designed pretty thin and simple which support the “a pocket watch strapped to your wrist” feeling.
The model’s winding crown does not quite match with the dress-watch profile, both in form and size, but when combined with a 45mm diameter, the overall image is remarkably consistent. The waterproofing value of the case is set at 30M.
IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref. IW516401 has a very stylish dial. White is preferred as the background color, but with that light metallic tone the dial looks perfectly in line with the overall design particularly with the stainless steel case. The leaf shape hands and indices are finished in gold tone. Stainless steel dress watches with gold accents on the dial always remind me of vintage timepieces therefore it is a nice detail which fits with the pocket watch appearance. The Moon Phase indicator is located at 6 o’clock position. The multi shades of blue used on the moon phase disk simply proves the brand’s utmost attention on the details. The date display sits at 3 o’clock position with a black over white color combo that blends with the background nicely. The small seconds sub-counter is placed at 6 while the power reserve indicator is located between 8 and 9 o’clock.
The model is powered by the Caliber Ref. H59800. The hand-wound movement is one of the latest variants of the Caliber Ref.59000 family which we are familiar with different models in the product line. The movement beats at 4Hz and offers an impressive power reserve of 8 days (192 hours) thanks to its double barrel winding system. Let me add that the movement is actually capable of offering 9 days power reserve (says IWC) but the movement is designed to stop at when a certain amount of energy left inside in order to prevent the accuracy problems which can occur due to the reduced torque. Wow… The movement can be enjoyed through the sapphire crystal display caseback.
IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase model comes on a brown alligator strap made by the famous leather goods manufacturer Santoni. During my visit to the boutique, I had the opportunity to see many leather strap models and I can tell you the Santoni straps feel way different when compared to the standard ones. The strap is secured by an IWC signed stainless steel tang buckle.
Well, I really liked the watch. Normally, I wouldn’t sound so positively upon thinking of a "45mm stainless steel IWC Portofino" but seeing the model in person was quite a different experience. By the way, it is a big watch. As a watch enthusiast like me who mostly prefers sport watches but also happily wears 36mm timepieces, a 45mm dress watch stays right at the end of my shopping list. But if you are one of those watch aficionados who like classic dress watches but could not wear due to their smaller sizes, IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase could be your ultimate dress watch. If you are not one of those so called Purists who only wear stainless steel watches, I also strongly recommend you to see the 18K rose gold case/slate dial version (Ref. IW516403).