Choosing a favorite timepiece from the IWC Vintage Collection is a very pleasant problem, indeed – each of these ticking IWC treasures have unique charm, along with their own historical background and story. One that I’m particularly fond of is the Portofino Hand – Wound, an homage to IWC Schaffhausen’s much-revered Ref. 5251 – a wristwatch with a vintage pocket watch caliber that the brand produced in small series through the late 1990s. Collectors still rave about the IWC 5251 Portofino; it was impressively large – even by modern standards – and presented a delightful horizontally-aligned moon phase indicator and subsidiary seconds subdial. Classical yet slightly idiosyncratic, this watch was a veritable dream for lovers of elegance and fine mechanical movements.
When the new Vintage Portofino Hand-Wound watch made its debut in 2008, IWC press material claimed the “charming flaw” of the 5251’s moon phase and sub seconds horizontal layout had been corrected. While I never understood where IWC was going with this (since I and many others consider the Ref. 5251 as an amazing and unforgettably lovely watch), I will nonetheless concede that the vertical layout is certainly attractive – even if it does lack the distinctiveness its predecessor possessed.
The in-house manufactured IWC caliber with the historical “Jones” fine adjustment index is another delight of the IWC Vintage Portofino Hand-Wound watch, and will keep owners undecided about whether the front or back of their timepiece is more appealing. Any way you cut it, this Vintage Portofino provides an intoxicating mixture of elegance and fine watchmaking skill, all the while shining a bright light on past IWC horological achievements.