IWC. A Limited Edition 18k Pink Gold Wristwatch
Model: Portugese Jubilee
Case No: 0xx/500
Movement No: 24xxxxx
Cal. 9828 mechanical movement, 19 jewels, silvered matte dial, applied Arabic numerals, outer dot minute divisions, engine turned subsidiary dial for constant seconds, large circular case, downturned lugs, limited edition number engraved in the band, sapphire crystal display snap back, 18k pink gold IWC buckle, case, dial, and movement signed
In the late 1930’s, the management of IWC in Schaffhausen received a letter from two Portuguese businessmen named Rodriguez and Teixeira. They were importers of watches, and noticed a demand in their trade for large stainless steel wristwatches. At the time, smaller watches were leading the market, mostly in the Art Deco style and rectangular in shape, and IWC was not sure what to make of this request. They asked Rodriguez and Teixeira if they would not prefer watches more on trend with a smaller diameter. The Portuguese wrote back, making it clear that they would like for the manufacture to develop a large stainless steel wristwatch that was easily readable with an extremely precise movement – many of their customers were in the maritime business, and needed a wristwatch that would run as accurately as a marine chronometer and show exact time measurement.
IWC took on the challenge, and soon realized that in order to accommodate the request for a large-sized wristwatch, they would have to use a pocket-watch movement. Specifically, a hunter-style watch with savonnette construction which put the crown at 3 o’clock, as opposed to lépine construction which put the crown at 12 o’clock. IWC chose the caliber 74, which at 17 lignes would put the case diameter at 42mm, thus fulfilling the large-size part of the request. In designing the dial, IWC mainly used Arabic numerals, a large subsidiary dial at 6 o’clock and “feuille” hands, although variations with Roman numerals and other style hands are known to exist. The case featured a thin bezel, giving the illusion that the diameter was even bigger. The caliber 74 was used in Portuguese models from 1939 through the mid 1940’s, at which time IWC began using the caliber 98.
Considering how well-known and distinguishable the Porgutuese model is today, the early models did not have a large following and production ceased in the mid 1950’s. In addition to the batches delivered to Portugal, some of the watches were sent to retailers in other parts of Europe, but the model and large wristwatch trend did not take on. Only 304 watches were produced with the caliber 74, and a total of 371 were produced with the caliber 98 and caliber 982. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, IWC produced a few examples of the Portuguese with a movement that included shock protection for the balance wheel, the caliber 982. Most of the examples with this last caliber were sold in Germany, thus giving them the nickname the “German edition”.
In the early 1990’s, IWC began planning for their 125th anniversary and developing limited edition models. The Sales and Marketing Director, Hannes Pantli, met with company boss Günter Blümlein to discuss adding to the anniversary lineup a model that would be attainable by all watch enthusiasts, and would represent the heritage of IWC. It was decided they would revive the Portuguese watch, and name the model after the region which had originally requested it.
In 1993, on the 125th anniversary of the company, IWC released a limited edition Portuguese Jubilee model, the reference 5441. It was limited to 1000 examples in stainless steel, 500 examples in 18k rose gold, and 250 examples in platinum. Staying true to the design of the original Portuguese model, but featuring a modern in-house movement, the Jubilee edition is highly sought after for this reason. Like the original model, the case diameter is 42mm and 9.8mm in height, with a front crystal made of plexiglass. The modern watch however features a sapphire crystal back to display the caliber 9828, an evolution of the caliber 982, and the engraving on the movement to commemorate the year. Collectors acknowledged that the reference 5441 Jubilee was an excellent tribute to the original Portuguese, and demand for the model expanded past the number produced for the anniversary. Watch enthusiasts appreciated that the new Portuguese stayed faithful to the original design while expanding the model lineup to include complicated models. With the Portuguese now an integral part of IWC’s identity, the present watch is an excellent opportunity to collect the reference that best links IWC’s past with its present and future.