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WATCH REVIEW IWC Portofino Chronograph

Editor's opinion
70 / 100
A watch named after a small Italian village? Sounds weird, but there's a reason to it: this city once was the Italian Saint-Tropez back in the 60s'. This Portofino is a tribute to the vintage years. 
Straight to the Point

IWC Portofino Chronograph

Ref.: IW391001
$5,450.00 US retail price March 7th, 2011
Pros
  • very refined dial
  • design and quality of the Milanese mesh bracelet
  • precise watch setting thanks to the stop-second
Cons
  • the lack of an instant date change at midnight
  • the lack of a sapphire crystal back – movement cannot be seen
Brand IWC
Model name
Portofino Chronographe
Reference
IW391001
Case material
Steel
Case diameter (without crown)
42 mm
Case diameter (crown included)
45.28 mm
Movement type
Automatic
Caliber
IWC 79320
Base Caliber
Valjoux 7750
Functions
Chronograph
Date
Day
Hour
Minute
Second
Crystal
Camberred sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides
Power reserve
44h
Transparent back
No
Lug width
19.93 mm
Length from lug to lug
49 mm
Case thickness
13.74 mm
Clasp type
Deployment clasp
Clasp material
Steel
Total weight
153 grams
Retail price USA at March 7th, 2011
$5,450.00
Comfort (/15) 13
Movement (/20) 12
Movement Optimisation / Garnishment (/5) 3
Ease of handling and adjustment (/5) 5
Movement control proceeded by the Manufacture / horlogical awards (/3) 1
Power reserve (/2) 1
Complications (/5) 2
Finishing (/20) 16
Dial finishing (/6) 5
Case finishing (/6) 4
Quality of garnishment / caseback engraving quality (/2) 1
Crystal quality (/4) 4
Clasp finishing (inner and extern) (/2) 2
Functionality (/20) 12
Diurnal legibility (/5) 5
Night legibility (/4) 0
Water resistance (/3) 0
Strap : ease of size adjustment + ease of substitution (/4) 3
Clasp : quality and safety (/4) 4
Additional items (/10) 4
Limited edition (/3) 0
Watch delivered with several straps (/2) 0
Quality of the watch box (/1) 1
Portability with shirtsleeves buttoned (/2) 2
Goodies included (/1) 0
Understandability of the brochure (/1) 1
Value for money (/15) 13
When to wear it ? For a weekend in Portofino of course!
Users opinion
63%
like this watch
Do you like this watch?

A collection of dress watches

 The IWC Portofino collection was born over a quarter of a century ago, and its trademark lies in its great classicism: leaf-shaped hands, uncomplicated black or silver dials, and an elegant case design.

The new collection presented at the SIHH 2011 comes in several models: a simple automatic model with hours, minutes and seconds, a manual winding model with an 8-days power reserve, a dual time one, and, finally, the model being presented here: an automatic chronograph.

IWC Portofino Chronograph:
A refined dial

The dial is as simple as it is elegant.
The IWC brand and Schaffhausen name framing the date at 3 o’clock, a very subtle ‘Swiss Made’ lettering, and that’s it! No useless propaganda here!

The polished-steel applied markers and hands, show up very well against the black dial and its mild sunray finishing. Everything here has been very neatly done.
The resulting contrast allows a perfect instinctive reading of the hour.

Just two small touches of red applied on the 30-minute and 12-hour sub counters, soberly light up this dial.

The lack of a tachometer scale for the chronograph, which contributes greatly to the refined side of this watch, allows a maximum opening of the dial and longer hands than on other chronographs.

However, it’s a pity the XII and VI indexes have been cut.
The XII looks like a VII and the VI feels like a III… with the middle ‘I’ haphazardly pivoted.

Finally, the impressive opening of the dial induces us into paying less attention to the stainless steel case, in spite of its having been very gracefully designed, with its beautiful round shapes.

A comfortable chronograph

The watch either comes with a stainless steel bracelet (‘Milanese mesh’) or an alligator leather strap.

With a 2 mm thickness and designed just like a classic pin buckle leather strap, the Milanese mesh bracelet is a definitely successful piece of work!

First of all, it strongly supports and contributes to the watch’s general visual feel.
It thus brings a sporty and somewhat offbeat touch to this otherwise very classically designed Portofino.

The real treat starts once you wear it: it emanates a most impressive, perfect balance between softness and strength.

One may just regret that the stainless steel sliding piece of the strap (great idea by the way!) that holds the bracelet’s open tail, sometimes gets into the wrist’s skin.
Yet, honestly, there’s nothing really unpleasant with it!

The stainless steel bracelet perfectly holds the watch in tight position on the wrist, and makes wearing it a truly comfy experience.
With its 42 mm diameter case for a little less than a 14 mm case height, the watch is neither too massive nor too heavy.
Finally, the slightly rounded shape of the case helps the watch in easily slipping under your shirtsleeves.

 

With a 2 mm thickness and designed just like a classic pin buckle leather strap, the Milanese mesh bracelet is a definitely successful piece of work!

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What about the movement?

Movement lovers will be disappointed once they realize they can’t enjoy the benefits of the 79320 calibre this Portofino comes with, as the watch does not have a sapphire crystal back.

Considering how often watches nowadays tend to jump on the bandwagon of the ‘seeing the movement’ trend — up to the point that it sometimes takes some manufacturers into giving their timepieces sapphire glass backs even when they’re sporty watches (and/or when there’s nothing specially interesting to see) — such an elegant watch as this IWC could have really been given a see-through back.

Indeed, its caliber, based on the powerful Valjoux 7750, is quite beautifully adorned (stippling, circular Côtes de Genève on the rotor…). It shall thus remain the exclusive privilege of a few enlightened insiders!

Nevertheless, the movement will see to its assigned function: robustness and reliability.

The movement has a stop-second that is only triggered when you change time.
A little coquetry, maybe, but anyone obsessed with time accuracy will be delighted!

For the chronograph function, IWC was kind enough to think of our fingers – that are too often abused by push-buttons being too small, therefore leaving marks when the triggering of the chronograph asks for an exaggeratedly strong push.
Well, this Portofino has mushroom-shaped push-buttons, with an impressive pressing surface that makes it all very pleasant to handle.
Last but not least, the date change is not instant. Too bad!
Insomniacs will be able to witness the slow ballet dancing of the 2 discs, at some point… between 11:00pm and midnight and a half!

 

What to remember

IWC gracefully revives the sweet life of the 60s’ with this Portofino chronograph.
Its classic design, counterbalanced by its sporty bracelet, will sure find its way into attracting anyone in his forties, looking for a chic timepiece — that he can also chill out with.

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