Published on November 16th, 2014 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar
Portugal is the country of many great navigators and explorers, just think to Vasco da Gama, Bartolomeu Dias or Fernão de Magalhães – better known as Magellan – to name the most famous. But this is not the origin of the Portuguese name for the famous IWC watch that was introduced in 1939 and that today is the most popular and recognizable IWC wristwatch.
The origin dates back to the end of the 1930s when two Portuguese businessmen – Rodrigues and Teixeira – operating in the watch industry visited the IWC (then International Watch Company) headquarter in Schaffausen proposing the development of a large stainless steel wristwatch housing a movement that could match the precision of a marine chronometer.
This is the IWC Portuguese Perpetual Calendar which combines its flagship, seven day caliber 5000 automatic and signature perpetual calendar mechanism with a four digit year. Till this year IWC only made the Portuguese Perpetual Calendar in gold or platinum. But earlier this year a limited edition steel version was announced, making the Portuguese perpetual available at a significantly lower price point than before.
The Portuguese perpetual in steel is a variant of the reference 5023, the Portuguese perpetual with the single moon display (the other reference 5032 has a double hemisphere moon phase). Being steel it is also tangibly lighter than its precious metal siblings, though at 44.2 mm in diameter it is large enough to have heft. Mechanically it is identical to the precious metal versions, with the most obvious aesthetic difference being the red hands for the sub-dials, for the power reserve indicator and seconds. Aside from the red hands the aesthetic is nearly monochromatic, a pale silver dial with a silver on grey moon phase disc.
While the aesthetic is not especially outstanding, the view from the back is compelling. Inside is the IWC calibre 51613, a version of the calibre 5000 that is equipped with IWC’s trademark perpetual calendar mechanism, developed by Kurt Klaus and team, which made its debut inside the Da Vinci in 1985, the first perpetual calendar with a four digit year display. Its most substantial accomplishment was to have all the calendar functions controlled from the crown, which could only advance them linearly. That made setting easy, though if the display is advanced past the correct date one has to wait until the calendar catches up.
This is an extraordinarily big, self-winding movement with a seven day power reserve. Well engineered, perhaps over engineered, the calibre 5000 is dominated by the massive rotor.