In 1939 two Portuguese business men approached the International Watch Company (the only major Swiss watchmaker that was founded by an American) to create a watch collection to honor the great 15th-and-16th century Portuguese explorers like Vasco da Gama and Ferdinand Magellan–men who pushed the limits of exploration. Seventy one years after the now successful Portuguese watches were introduced, IWC led an expedition of its own back to the coast of Portugal to unveil its newest addition to the Portuguese family of watches, the IWC Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph.
Time and navigation are siblings, and an accurate chronograph is a crucial tool in piloting a seaborne vessel – the old school analog way. To celebrate the launch of the Yacht Club, the newest member of the Portuguese collection (IWC’s most popular series we might add), the Schaffhausen, Switzerland based watchmaker chartered two racing yachts and devised an old school navigation school to extol the virtues of the new Chronograph. Our group disembarked from the marina at Cascais, a town not far from the Portuguese capital city of Lisbon, for a day-long nav course on Portugal’s coastal waters of the Atlantic ocean.
Throughout the day the professional sailors of the IWC navigation program taught the basic hand-held navigation, techniques that took hundreds of years of sailing, experimentation and ingenuity to develop. The expert French sailors taught the group to use the sextant to acquire our position using celestial navigation and gave lessons in coastal navigation, dead reckoning and charting our position by hand, just as the explorers would have done it centuries ago.
While historically explorers had the basic sailing navigation tools, they didn’t have anything that came close to the beauty and precision of the the IWC Yacht Club Chrono. The watch is perfect for sailing (built on an in-house Swiss movement that is waterproof to six bar and features sub dials for marking and measuring time) yet right at home for a meeting in the city. Another interesting feature is the fact that he Yacht Club is the first watch from the IWC Portuguese range to offer a sport band, a strap that will be resistant to the harsh environs that ocean going men have to face. The good news is you don’t have to be a member to don the Yacht Club, and there is no sailing ability required. [IWC]