This is the third year running that IWC have chosen to showcase novelties from their Portofino collection during Watches & Wonders, and it’s not difficult to see why. As the brand’s most relaxed and philosophically accessible collection, the suave and easygoing Portofino lends itself well to the Hong Kong fair, which is far later in the year than the other two major novelty-presenting fairs (SIHH and Baselworld). There is a vigour in the opening months of the year that — in my personal opinion — finds greater affinity with energetic collections such as the Pilot’s Watch or the Ingenieur.
Additionally, the cosmopolitan sprawl of Hong Kong resonates with the urbane fibres in the design of the Portofino — its combination of Roman numerals with baton markers, its tightly streamlined hands, narrow bezel and straight lugs. And yet it conveys a fullness of expression and leisurely approach in its clean dials, Italianate straps and flat profiles that speaks to the deepest yearnings in us jaded city-dwellers for open skies and azure waters.
This year’s Portofino Hand-Wound Day & Date in steel and also in red gold are exceptional interpretations of the collection’s aesthetic, with subtle interplays of balance and asymmetry between the dial elements.
The large date at 12 o’clock is eminently functional, as is the display of the days of the week at three o’clock. I have to say I would have found one of these watches extremely useful at Watches & Wonders as I frequently lose track of what day it is when completely immersed in appointments on consecutive days. “What day is it?” I’m occasionally asked during watch fairs. My usual answer is a bemused shrug. “It’s day two of Watches & Wonders,” I’ll say, or “It’s day four of Baselworld.” Whoever I’m speaking to gets the pleasure of working out which day of the week it is based on that totally helpful reply.
Also of great assistance to the wearer is the dialside indication of power reserve. To be fair, an eight-day power reserve isn’t something that’s absolutely necessary on the dial. It doesn’t require constant attending to, and it would probably be totally fine on the back of the watch.
Taking into consideration however the philosophy of the Portofino — endorsing the life of leisure — perhaps its wise to have it on the dial after all. It tells us that, when you live according to the Portofino’s codes, you might very well be in the happy state of not needing to check your watch for days at a time. It’s good to have a reminder of how much power is left in your watch, then.
In context of the unending turbulence of a watch fair, perhaps that’s exactly the kind of thinking we need.