IWC Portugieser Chronograph, a reinterpretation of a classic

August 2016

Continuing a rich heritage, the brand from Schaffhausen, Switzerland has released a new chrono variant of its iconic Portugieser model.

IWC Portugieser Chronograph, a reinterpretation of a classic

The Portugieser is by far the most iconic and popular of IWC’s wristwatches. As the name might suggest, the watch was first commissioned by two Portuguese businessmen. Launched back in 1939 for the first time, the design was far ahead of its time, and it has been a favourite of watch aficionados since then.

Why has the watch been able to stand the test of time so well? It wasn’t a watch that stood out for any particular reason. But it did many things very well. A modest size, narrow bezel, a minimalistic dial design and simplistic layout made it a watch that was hard to argue against.

IWC Portugieser Chronograph, a reinterpretation of a classic

Given the decades of success of the original, IWC followed up with its first Portugieser Chronograph model in the 1990s. The new watch had much in common with the original from the 1930s, but it was updated for a more contemporary feel.

The brand has just launched a new model of the chronograph, in the form of the Reference 3904. The new watch is the big brother of the Reference 3714 which preceded it, meaning it’s slightly wider and higher - but the arched-edge front glass makes it hard to really spot the difference.

IWC Portugieser Chronograph, a reinterpretation of a classic

One minor change is that the new model is equipped with the in-house 89361 calibre. The movement was developed especially to show stopped times up to 12 hours on a separate subdial, which can be read off like the time of day. Impressively, a circular totalizer combines the hour and minute hands as if they were a watch-within-a-watch.

With this latest addition to the Portugieser family, IWC has done well to channel the spirit of the vintage model and reproduce everything that made it such a big hit: it doesn’t wow with anything specific, but the sum is definitely greater than the parts.

IWC Portugieser Chronograph, a reinterpretation of a classic

The new watch is available just in time for summer, in 18-carat red gold or stainless steel, with either a silver-plated or slate-coloured dial. All models are supplied with a Santoni strap made of alligator leather, which nicely completes the package.

Technical information

  • Reference: IW390404
  • Case Material: stainless steel
  • Jewels: 38
  • Calibre 89361
  • Self-winding mechanical chronograph movement
  • 68-hour power reserve when fully wound
  • Date display
  • Stopwatch function with hours, minutes and seconds
  • Flyback function
  • Small hacking seconds
  • Sapphire glass, arched edge, antireflective coating on both sides
  • Water-resistant 3 bar
  • Case height 14.5 mm
  • Diameter 42 mm
  • Alligator leather strap by Santoni