Mediterranean Magic

Mediterranean Magic

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< IWC Schaffhausen >

The new portofino collection spells beauty and simplicity even as  IWC’sphoto-shoot resurrects the spirit of the sixties at the harbour town…

Back in the 1950s, when elegant men’s watches from IWC Schaffhausen were already taking the world by storm, celebrities like Maria Callas or film stars like Ingrid Bergman and Clark Gable had already discovered the natural beauty of the small harbour town, Portofino. A decade later, in the 1960s, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton relaxed there during breaks from filming Cleopatra in Rome.

Even one-time American First Lady Jackie Kennedy used to feel very much at home on the peninsula on the Ligurian coast. The unique combination of the beautiful landscape with the easy-going Mediterranean way of life has made Portofino a magnet for people with a finely developed sense of aesthetics. Small wonder, then, that many prominent friends of the brand were delighted to receive an invitation from IWC and the legendary photographer Peter Lindbergh to a shoot at Portofino in summer 2010.

The results of this extraordinary get-together, in which Lindbergh used his famous subjects to resurrect the spirit of the sixties, will be seen soon as part of an unusual travelling exhibition that goes on the road during the year of the Portofino collection and stops at some of the biggest venues all across the world. For more than a quarter of a century now, the Portofino watch family has held a firm place in the collection from IWC Schaffhausen. It is not only the entry-level model to the exclusive world of IWC watches, but also the epitome of a classical wristwatch for individuals with style. In the same way that the picturesque harbour town stands for the dolce vita of the 1960s, Portofino watches are a combination of rare beauty and simple elegance.

It was not without reason, then, that the picturesque little harbour town inspired the name of a watch family without which the collection from IWC Schaffhausen would be unthinkable. When the first Portofino watch from Schaffhausen took the world by storm in 1984, it was the result of a happy union between the pocket watch and wristwatch. In its own perfect and inimitable way, it successfully blended a rare beauty with simple elegance. In other words: Mediterranean lifestyle sculpted for your wrist.

IWC Schaffhausen has been making its Portofino models without interruption since 1984 and modifications have been extremely understated. Its genealogy has always been unmistakable, as is clear from the Portofino Hand-Wound launched in 1993. The ongoing success of this watch family is conclusive proof that discreetly designed watches with classical forms, going way beyond short-lived fashion trends, will always be popular.

The new Portofino collection from IWC combines rare beauty with simple elegance which consists of four models, each with its own individual character. This year, IWC revamped the Portofino collection. The most notable edition of the new lineup is the Hand-Wound Eight Days (Ref. 5101) that features an in-house manufactured calibre 59210 movement. It has a case diameter of 45 mm, which might sound large but the slender lugs and small winding crown will definitely make it wearable on most wrist types and sizes. Quality-wise, the weakest link in a mechanical watch is its movement. Although fully manufactured in-house, IWC’s calibre 59210 remains a new movement that has yet to prove itself over time. The round case of the Portofino, with its unpretentious lugs and clean-looking dial, makes this watch a classic that will be in style for years to come.

This new flagship Portofino isn’t the only available watch that has a power reserve of 192 hours (eight days) and a power reserve indicator on its dial. The appearance of the Hand-Wound Eight Days is unmistakably IWC, though. This watch will be available in stainless steel and gold, with various dial colours. The stainless steel model will be available with either a silver dial or black dial, and the gold model will be available with a slate-coloured dial.

The least conspicuous way of wearing an IWC is the Portofino Automatic (Ref. 3565). For many years, its timeless exterior and reliable mechanical movement has assured it a place in the hearts of many watch devotees. Hours, minutes, seconds and a discreet date display, all powered by a solid mechanical automatic movement: the epitome of good taste, it needs no more. And in all likelihood it is precisely this expression of understatement that has enabled it, over the years, to become the unassuming star it is today.The classic model now comes in a 40 millimetre case which, thanks to a meticulous reworking of the design, makes the watch look even slimmer. Its shape, classical as ever, is reminiscent of the IWC models from the 1960s, without necessarily making it a retro design. The Portofino Automatic in red gold with its silver plated dial radiates understated luxury. Needless to say, the watch is also available in stainless steel with a choice of silver-coloured or black dials.

The Portofino Chronograph (Ref. 3910) is a perfect example of a design that works. The cumulative stopwatch elements have been so skillfully integrated that the simplicity, so typical of the Portofino family, is guaranteed. But unlike a car with ultra-wide tyres and big spoilers, the Portofino Chronograph doesn’t make an exhibition of its sports pedigree. If anything, it has the same exciting but, somehow, understated dynamism of an Italian sports car from the 1960s.

In 2011, the Portofino Chronograph is even more finely balanced, with softer lines than ever before. The diameter has increased minimally by one millimetre to 42, while the more rounded contours of the case and gently flowing strap horns are very pleasing on the eye. They are complemented by slim chronograph pushbuttons with eye-catching heads of the type you might find in the cockpit of an Italian sports car. The chronograph dial, too, looks equally restrained but is likewise perfectly functional. The cumulative stopwatch displays are joined by small seconds at ‘9 o’clock’, which elegantly counterbalances the day and date displays on the opposite side of the dial. The colour of the displays matches the colour of the dial in question. The buyer has a choice of a silver- plated or black dial in a stainless-steel case. The Portofino Chronograph is powered by the tried-and tested 79320 calibre with a 44-hour power reserve and automatic winding with a ball-bearing rotor.

Both the Portofino Automatic and the Portofino Chronograph can be individualised with either a strap or bracelet. IWC now gives owners the option of a Milanese mesh bracelet like the ones so popular in the 1960s. As the name suggests, they were invented in Milan and are thus the perfect complement to watches that exude Italian lifestyle. A Milanese bracelet is robust and made of tightly woven wire mesh, which fits snugly and comfortably around the wrist. At one time, these bracelets were soldered directly onto the case, but in 2011, the year of the Portofino, the Milanese mesh bracelets as well as the fine leather straps are secured to the watch with spring bars. The Milanese mesh bracelets, incidentally, are available in three different lengths and can be adjusted  to the width of the wearer’s wrist in five-millimetre stages, guaranteeing a perfect fit.

Leather straps by quality Italian shoe manufacturers Santoni underscore the delicate Italian touch that runs throughout the Portofino collection. The renowned Italian shoemakers use a complex process to give some of their elegant men’s shoes a slight patina before they even leave the workshop. The technique makes brand-new leather look as if it has already been cared for over a period of several years. Apart from this attractive feature the straps, made by Santoni exclusively for IWC, also come with the characteristic colour gradations and orange leather lining typical of Santoni products.

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