The 39mm IWC Portofino watch – A successful revision
With the trends toward big(ger) watches in full bloom, its interesting to see the effect that this has on established lines of watches from great brands. Some of the really bold watches (which were large from the start), such as the Audemars Piguet Offshore Chronograph collection seem to thrive on growing bigger and bigger – this is exemplified by Offshore watch variants like the legendary T3 chronograph, and the new Shaquille O’Neal timepiece. While not everyone can wear these monsters, they look fantastic, and have a great style that looks whole and harmonious. The Hublot Big Bang series is another that has grown up around the large watch trend, and carries its big, bad boldness in a way that proclaims, “I was born to do this!”
Classical watches have not been so uniformly successful when given a size increase. For example, Jaeger-LeCoultre’s very classic Master Control Grande Taille watch looked extremely balanced when it was in its original 36mm size. Small for today’s tastes, perhaps, but the watch looked beautiful. Today, the new model uses a movement which is similar in size to that used in the previous model, but a case which is 4mm wider. To me, the resulting creation looks a bit awkward, with a bezel that is too wide, and a date wheel that has migrated closer to the center; the frame around the date also emphasizes this. While the new 40mm creation may be more appealing to the mass market, I can’t help but see a smaller watch which was pushed to become large. Like a gangly adolescent, this watch seems to be suffering slightly from growing pains.
One dressy timepiece which I think has in fact benefited aesthetically from the up-sizing treatment, is the IWC Portofino watch. The original was pleasant, but it didn’t really “pop” in the original 36mm size, particularly with the super slim baton hands on the dial; needless to say, the Portofino wasn’t the most inquired about IWC timepiece. However, in its new 39mm case, the Portofino watch suddenly has much more presence, a quality also enhanced by the beautiful and shapely leaf hands, which have a lot more panache than the somewhat stuffy batons. I’ll bet IWC has seen a much warmer customer response to the Portofino since introducing this new model