Throwback Thursday: the IWC Portuguese

The original IWC Portuguese.
The original IWC Portuguese.

The IWC Portuguese, when it was introduced in 1939, could not have been more out of step with the spirit of the times. At the height of the Art Deco era of tiny watches with rectangular cases (and unreadable dials), IWC introduced a 43mm,  round-cased whopper in the savonette style (“savonette” is usually used when describing pocket watch movements. Pocket watches were available with the winder at either 12 or 3. It’s not a problem to rotate the movement 90 degrees but if you do this, then the small seconds moves from the 6 position to the 9. The trick is to move the winder from 12 to 3 and retain the small seconds at 6 – this is commonly referred to as a savonette movement, something achieved by IWC with the Portuguese) The model was commissioned by two Portuguese merchants who wanted a large wristwatch with the precision and legibility of a pocket watch. IWC used pocket watch calibers 74 and 98 for the first Portuguese models, and made the dial a striking contrast of white numerals/indexes on a black background, with a classic railroad index and Arabic numerals. The result was a watch that was well ahead of its time, and is today completely in tune with the Zeitgeist.

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