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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

The roar of the sea with boats moored hitting the paved shore, the scent of thyme and olives in the air, the constant whirring of cicadas while taking one sip after the other from the ristretto in the morning sun – the charm of the Italian Riviera and a touch of elegance have bonded a life-long marriage in Portofino. The tiny fishing village has been a beloved meeting point and chill-out place of the “Bold and the Beautiful” or the “glitterati” since the ‘50s (it was “discovered” by the English actor Rex Harrison). However, as opposed to other popular harbour towns, Portofino has conserved its original tastes, scents and mood throughout the years.

Travel posters of Portofino from the past. The one on the right is from Mario Borgoni for ENIT (circa 1920).

It is this setting that Peter Lindbergh let us see through his eyes in the 2014 motion picture for IWC Schaffhausen and in the photo shoot earlier in 2010. The 2-minute video and the fantastic black and white images capture the mood of the golden years with such a self-confident ease that you can’t help but to replay it again and again. The combination of Portofino, tuxedos, shabby iron tables, Riva boats, hearty smiles of intelligent figures, like Cate Blanchett, Emily Blunt, Zhou Xun, Ewan McGregor and Christoph Waltz and the intoxicating tune makes it really authentic. It enters the mind unstoppably in a way that nothing is forced on the viewer (including the timepieces on the hands of the actors).

At the Watches and Wonders 2015 in Hong Kong, the same video introduced the new pieces of the IWC Portofino collection – I was humming the song for the next 24 hours. Join me!

Portofino Hand-wound Monopusher

Not that anyone would need a chronograph in Portofino, but IWC created one with a discreet design and simple operability – I guess it is more for those leaving Portofino village back to daily life. The slate-coloured dial sits in the 45mm case and hosts a 60 seconds and a 60 minutes sub-dial for the chronograph function. It also leaves space for the power reserve and date indicators in a neat manner, sitting opposite each other. I like the harmony established by the monochrome dial, the thin leaf-shaped hands and the long index appliqués.

The movement, made by IWC, is the 59360, which combines all chronograph controls in a single pusher. The button appears at the end of the crown and allows starting, stopping and resetting the interval timer. When fully wound, barrels store running energy for eight days.

The timepiece comes in two versions: an 18k white gold, slate-coloured dial model and a red gold silver-plated dial model. Both share truly Italian, Santoni straps.

Since 2011, IWC has collaborated with Italian family firm Santoni, a producer of hand-made leather works. Straps manufactured by Santoni for IWC have beautiful colours and patina. They do enhance the Italian spirit of the Portofino line. Once you see their shine on your timepiece, I’m sure you’ll pop-in their boutique to browse for a new pair of shoes.

Portofino Hand-wound Day&Date

The handsome brother of the Monopusher, the Portofino Hand-wound Day&Date was introduced in Hong Kong, too. Similar dimensions, hands and indexes suggest the kinship, however traits such as the large date window and the day of the week circle, or the Roman XII standing proud in the crowd of the long indexes make its individuality clear. To me it is even more relaxed, elevating the Portofino village feeling even higher. Having tried it on, this piece became my absolute favourite IWC Portofino.

Behind the beautiful face, calibre 59220 ensures similar running parameters with the day-date function.

Portofino Hand-Wound Day&Date
Portofino Hand-Wound Day&Date

Portofino 37

For those who prefer a smaller size on laidback days, the new 37mm models offer comfort. The same case is fitted with two distinct self-winding movement versions – Calibre 35111 with a date function, the 35800 with moon phase indication. The dial of the latter is made of mother-of-pearl adorned with 12 diamonds over the index appliqués. It gives the impression of the glare of the moon and the stars. The actual moon phase is indicated at 12 o’clock.

The date displaying Portofino Automatic 37 line was extended with two new steel versions with 66 diamonds on their circumference. The blue dial model with matching Santoni strap gives me the feeling of the sea at night. The other has silver-plated dial with a raspberry-pink strap.

Portofino Automatic 37, moon-phase


Photo credits: IWC Schaffhausen, Loupiosity.com.
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