Portofino by way of Switzerland

IWC Portofino Dual Time.

It was about this time last year that I wrote about the then new IWC Portuguese collection that was just presented at the super luxe watch fair SIHH in Switzerland. I have been an admirer of IWC since I first discovered the brand as a young lad, and the IWC story is pretty amazing to me. The company was founded by an American named Florentine Ariosto Jones in Switzerland in 1868 with the idea to take American manufacturing techniques (a la Mr. Henry Ford) and combine them with skilled Swiss labor. Hence the name International Watch Company. And at the time that Jones started the company – if you can believe it – the skilled labor in Switzerland was considered inexpensive. 143 years later, IWC is still producing some of the world’s finest timepieces.

Honestly, before last year I had never even heard of the SIHH fair or knew how important it was to all of the watchmakers. It is at this trade show in Geneva that draws all of the important retailers and press from around the world to buy and see all of the new designs from the entire stable of Richemont brands. It is a pretty serious affair, which is why I was slightly taken aback when the IWC folks extended me an invitation. Me of all people, a lowly and humble man of the internets. But as far as brands go, it would be hard to find one I like more than IWC. So the decision was definitely a non-decision.

It was at SIHH this year that IWC unveiled their new Portofino collection, which I had a chance to see first hand and share with you via these photos. The company also took the opportunity to unveil its new website during the fair and I have to say they did a pretty amazing job. (Extra bonus points for the HTML5 too.) Getting back to the watches, the Portofino family is comprised of four models that are offered in various precious and standard metals. The group includes the Dual Time (which is perfect for travel), Hand-Wound Eight Days, Portofino Chronograph and the Portofino Automatic. The collection is inspired by the elegance of the Italian riviera, La Dolce Vita from the early 1960s and features elegant and sophisticated designs that fit that beautiful lifestyle. Not to say that if you buy one of these watches you will automatically assume that life, but it seems to me it would be a good place to start.

IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days.

The photos below from IWC help to better illustrate how sleek the new Portofino collection is.

Comments on “Portofino by way of Switzerland

    David Bram on January 26, 2011 4:03 PM:

    Love the chrono with metal band

    Kevin on January 26, 2011 4:25 PM:

    These are terrific. Wish I could attend SIHH!

    My Affair with Michael Bastian on January 26, 2011 4:44 PM:

    Incredible craftsmanship.

    Michael Shea on January 26, 2011 4:57 PM:

    Stunning as always.

    pjharv on January 26, 2011 6:03 PM:

    have the prices been announced? if so, how much are they?

    Tom on January 26, 2011 7:41 PM:

    pjharv, better break out the Amex.

    Kevin on January 26, 2011 8:16 PM:

    Lets put it this way…..If you have to ask…..

    Jake on January 27, 2011 2:49 AM:

    I think I came a little

    qin on January 27, 2011 3:25 AM:

    Pretty watch :D

    ZOMG on January 27, 2011 4:15 AM:

    Definitely watch porn.

    Brian on January 27, 2011 8:36 AM:

    Eh, it’s no Patek.

    mike on January 27, 2011 10:37 AM:

    Neither is Patek anymore.

    WIsco on January 27, 2011 10:56 AM:

    My dream watch when I hit the lottery is the rose gold version. You can have your Patek.

    porter on January 27, 2011 11:18 AM:

    Any man who wears a watch that looks like this makes my heart swoon. Really beautiful stuff here :)

    Ray Hull on January 27, 2011 3:22 PM:

    My (Rolex-certified) watchmaker always apologizes for the time and cost when he cleans my IWCs, saying: ” I have to take my time with IWC, it’s just like working on a Patty.”

    Ray Hull on January 27, 2011 3:31 PM:

    Just clicked over to the new IWC site…Hmmm, a “double-buckle derby” from Santoni is featured as a hallmark. Whattaya spose William at John Lobb has to say about that?

    Michael Williams on January 27, 2011 3:47 PM:

    Ray: thanks for the two good comments. Just a heads up: all of the leather on the Portofino straps is made by Santoni.

    Ye Ole General on January 27, 2011 4:11 PM:

    Love the art of the watch.

    ei on January 27, 2011 5:50 PM:

    still like the flieger collection better

    Nick on January 28, 2011 9:28 AM:

    Henry Ford was only 5 when this company was founded, so I would guess the manufacturing model would be based on some other American industryial practice, though I’m curious which — what we were known for in the mid 19th century was big rough and tumble stuff, like miles of textiles. Fine crafts were certainly present, but not on the scale that they were elsewhere, so if you wanted to make watches, it would make sense to look internationally. Most Americans with means would have bought anything requiring this level of precision abroad. US high end retailers (like Tiffany & Co.) would buy on the Continent (in the case of Tiffany, from Boucheron, Cartier, Patek Phillipe) and reselling stateside — so I wonder if this was a move to get in on that trade.

    Fascinating story, and beautiful watches.

    Michael Williams on January 28, 2011 9:38 AM:

    Nick — from what I understand, Jones was looking to apply an industrial practice to the cottage industry of watch making that was present at the time in Switzerland. Which largely meant bringing watch makers into one central place — a factory — and organizing production on a larger scale. Now, this is only what I know from spending an afternoon with the IWC historian, so I could be missing some of the further details.

    That said, if anyone happens to find themselves on the German side of Switzerland, you should definitely make a stop at the IWC museum there. It is very well done and quite interesting. Free and open to the public if you were wondering. —ACL

    pjharv on January 28, 2011 12:21 PM:

    still, no one has a price on this line of watches???

    JonIndiaâ„¢ on January 28, 2011 4:51 PM:

    i’m always in awe when i see an IWC.

    L.L. on January 28, 2011 5:59 PM:

    Although the watch is beautiful I would rather pick some other IWC. What I appreciate in IWC is their craftmanship (truly a form of art) combined with understated looks.

    p.s. It was fun to notice the interview in Industribolaget, seems like that Scandinavia isn’t totally forgotten :) keep up the good work

    chazzz on January 29, 2011 12:26 PM:

    You guys ever check out RGM Watch Company out of Lancaster, PA? Talk about watch lust… I think that the proprietor, Roland Murphy, is the first guy to design and manufacture an American movement since Hamilton died. Google it. You will become moist.

    Eli on January 31, 2011 8:03 PM:

    @chazzz, I am familiar with RGM, as a guy who grew up an hour away from Lancaster, I remember being impressed with him. I do think some of his watches are base ETA movements though. I was just reading in Revolution watch magazine about his new Tourbillion. I think if he had a creative director who freshened up his look using his movements and the American story he could really become something. I am intrigued but I think his designs are stale…. save the new Tourbillion.

    chazzz on February 1, 2011 10:06 AM:

    Yeah, I believe he does use (highly modified) 2824s in some of his watches (who doesn’t, right?), and also some vintage Hamilton movements. His caliber-801 is his own, and of course the Pennsylvania Tourbillion is an absolute masterpiece. It’s also $75K, of course. Ah, to be rich…

    I understand what you’re saying with his design aesthetic. It isn’t what one would call “forward looking” but I like it. Very classic and well done, IMHO.

    Eli on February 1, 2011 7:50 PM:


    75k is actually a fair price for that watch. What I was saying about his aesthetic is it is dry. There is a difference between dry and classic. A Lange, is very classic as well as most Breguet’s, there is a design spark that RGM is missing. IMHO.

    Jason on February 4, 2011 5:25 PM:

    It is nice that you got to go to SIHH, it is a very nice show, with so many of the “purist” brands under one roof. Baselworld is fun too, but the density of high quality brands is much higher in Geneva.

    The Santoni straps are included with some Portofino pieces, and available as an option for others. Individual pricing has not been determined on the straps, but $500 is my guess.

Comments are closed.