IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref 5164

Elegance Personified

The new IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase boasts all the subtlety of the very first Portofino reference 5251 that we fell for back in 1984.

IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref 5164

Introduction

SIHH may have been the year of the Da Vinci at IWC, but for those watch enthusiasts who took the time to look just that little bit harder, there were a number of new Portofino references unveiled quietly behind the scenes. One of which was the delightful Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase.

IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref 5164

It’s hard to think of a collection of watches that so well reflects the inspiration from which they were conceived. The small fishing village of Portofino on the Golfo del Tigullio near Genoa in Italy oozes class and sophistication. Its narrow houses in red terracotta, clustered tightly around the picturesque natural harbour, provide an idyllic setting for a laid-back lifestyle.

These watches are a wonderful celebration of Italian class and a perfect reflection of the country’s culture. Taking a look back – it was when IWC noticed a demand in the late 1970s for larger, elegant dress watches, that it unveiled its Portofino model. The Lepine pocket watch, with its dial turned through 90 degrees, served as the basis for the original Portofino 5251 from 1984. The Portofino collection was, and still is, a ‘pocket watch’ for the wrist.

The dial

The dial on this Portofino is a sumptuous combination of restraint and complexity. For the first time in more that 30 years the moon phase complication features on a larger 45mm Portofino case size (smaller Portofino references at 37mm have previously featured a moon phase).

The eye is immediately drawn to the moon phase complication at 12 o’clock. With its delightful blue background, gold moon disk and applied gold stars, this romantic complication is quite frankly a piece of art in itself. 

This new Portofino boasts a crisp white dial which beautifully sets off the glorious applied gold markers. To the right of the dial, at 3 o’clock, is a date aperture, a small hacking seconds sub dial resides at 6 o’clock (with a subtle red 60 second indicator) and a sweeping power reserve indicator is positioned at 9 o’clock.

IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref 5164

The case

The case is 45mm wide and 13.5 mm deep and is available in stainless steel and 18ct red gold. The sapphire crystal arched edge, with antireflective coating, creates a wonderful blue hue when it hits the light. The lugs are seamlessly integrated into the case, which in turn wrap the wrist to ensure the watch fits under a dress shirt with ease.

The movement

The new Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase is a variant of the existing Portofino Hand-Wound collection with the addition of a moon phase. The movement is part of the 59000 calibre family. The new IWC manufactured 59800 calibre seen here is still hand wound and just 1.5mm thicker that its predecessor, the 5921, as a direct result of the moon phase module addition.

The movement is displayed through the sapphire crystal case back and showcases just how large the calibre is (pocket watchesque). It is adorned with Côtes de Genève stripes. Closer inspection also reveals gold screws on the balance wheel and a Breguet overcoil on the balance spring.

IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref 5164

Closing remarks

Some may say at 45mm it’s too large and too complex for a dress watch or that it is not a traditional ‘IWC’ as it isn’t a tool watch (think Big Pilot). But, I would wholeheartedly disagree. This Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase is perfectly proportioned and honest to its pedigree. It is deeply considered and cripplingly elegant from every angle. As such, it is possibly my favourite watch of 2017 to date.

IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase Ref 5164

Technical specification

  • Model: IWC Portofino Hand-Wound Moon Phase
  • Ref: 516401
  • Case: Stainless steel; diameter 45mm; height 13.5mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and case back.
  • Functions: Hours; minutes; moon phase; small seconds; date; day; month; 8 days power reserve indicator.
  • Movement: IWC manufactured 59800 calibre, hand wound movement; 8-days power reserve.
  • Strap: Hand-sewn dark brown alligator leather strap by Santoni presented with steel pin buckle.
  • Price: £10,450 (RRP as at 12.4.2017)

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Justin Hast

Justin has a passion for sport and all matters relating to horology. He is particularly interested in IWC watches and can often be seen photographing Big Pilot's and Portugieser models. Moreover, Justin is a keen Instagram account holder and regularly posts images of his favourite timepieces.