Today is the opening of Watches & Wonders Shanghai, a new watch fair dedicated to the Chinese market. While the main idea for exposing brands is to display the watches introduced in April, some of them have decided to benefit from this physical and digital space to launch some new models. Part of them is IWC, which brings an update to what’s certainly one of its most emblematic models, the Portugieser Chronograph 3716, which comes now for the first time on a stainless steel bracelet. And we have a video review of it too, right on top of this article.
Minimalistic yet easily recognizable, greatly designed and with a nautical sporty-chic vibe, the modern Portugieser finds its roots back in the late 1930s, following the request of two Portuguese merchants who wanted to have the precision of IWC’s deck clocks but to be worn on the wrists while sailing. The result was a large wristwatch, powered by a pocket watch movement, with a distinctive design and a minimalist approach focused on legibility and precision.
IWC brought back the name Portugieser in 1993, for the 125th anniversary of the brand. And in 1998, IWC launched a model that will soon become a modern icon, the Portugieser Chronograph 3714. The beauty of this watch lied in its visual simplicity and the symmetry of its design. For the coming 22 years, IWC will keep the watch almost intact, reinforcing its cult status.
The evolution towards the ref. 3716
Earlier this year, IWC has introduced a new version of its emblematic watch, the Portugieser Chronograph, under the reference 3716. IWC is well aware of the commercial success and timeless appeal of this watch and any drastic update could have come at risk. Yet, IWC took the right decision to maintain most of the design element intact and mostly updated what matters, the movement. Indeed, what was somehow seen by some watch enthusiasts in the past model, the out-sourced calibre, has now been replaced by an in-house movement. Other than that, the Portugieser Chronograph is still the watch we’ve loved more than 2 decades.
The evolutions are subtle, to say the least. The stainless steel case of the IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3716 now measures 41mm in diameter (just 0.1mm more than before) and is just a bit thicker (0.3mm more, due to the new movement). This meant reshaping some parts, such as the lugs, but only in minor proportions. All the classic elements, such as the ultra-thin bezel that widely opens on the dial, the brushed and polished surfaces or the oversized pushers, have been maintained.
The dial evolves, once again, only on almost imperceptible details. The surface is still silver-plated with a galvanic treatment, offering nice metallic reflections. The 3716 still has its beautiful symmetrical dial with elegant applied Arabic numerals and thin leaf-shaped hands, here coloured in blue – perfectly in line with the sporty-nautical theme of the Portugieser. The ultra-clean display, with sub-counters at 12 and 6 o’clock, is retained and great visual pleasure. The only noticeable difference is the “IWC Schaffhausen” logo, with a more modern font and a slightly smaller size. And thankfully, no date window has been added.
What really differentiates the older 3714 from the new 3716 is the movement. In the past, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph used to have a deeply-modified Valjoux movement. But in 2020, with a name such as IWC, having a movement internally produced has become somehow a must. For this reason, the 3716 is fitted with the automatic calibre 69355, part of the 69xxx family of movements (focused on replacing Valjoux ébauches) that we’ve explored in detail here. This integrated chronograph with column-wheel, which can be seen through the transparent caseback, offers 46 hours of power reserve and runs at 4Hz.
Today, the main novelty comes the introduction of a stainless steel bracelet on the IWC Portugieser Chronograph, a first for this model, which has always been offered on alligator leather. The new bracelet features h-shaped brushed links and polished centre links. It is closed by a concealed butterfly folding clasp. It adds a sportier, fresher look to this elegant chronograph and will be a great option for those living in warmer countries or who want a more robust watch.
Note that this steel bracelet is also available as an accessory, and it will fit all steel models in the Portugieser Chronograph 3716 collection. However, it won’t be possible to install it on the older reference 3714, as the lugs are slightly different.
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3716 on stainless steel bracelet will soon be available at boutiques and retailers, for a price of CHF 9,200. More details at iwc.com.