IWC Portugiesier Chronograph 3714
Angus Davies reviews the IWC Portugiesier Chronograph 3714, a watch he has admired for many years. Its styling has not changed since its launch in 1998 and it remains a design icon that proffers lasting eye-appeal.
This detailed review of the IWC Portugiesier Chronograph 3714 includes live images, specification details and price.
I adore travelling overseas and visiting places I have never seen before. The notion of sampling new foods and embracing cultures very different from my own is a tantalising prospect. However, at the end of a trip, there is always something very appealing about returning to a familiar setting.
Looking back, there are some places which accord a welcome sense of well-being. The small coastal town of Cascais, near the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, has always been, and still remains, a favourite bolthole of mine.
Whilst Cascais has been no stranger to change over the years, it continues to offer an appealing sense of familiarity. In my mind’s eye, I can still navigate its cobbled pavements and smell the fragrant aromas of the local cuisine. This small Portuguese fishing town will always have a special place in my heart.
This meandering route brings me to another ‘Portugieser’ which engenders a sense of fondness on my part, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3714.
The Schaffhausen-based watch company revisited its former Portuguese collection earlier this year and released some new models, such as the stunning Portuguiser Annual Calendar, modified a handful of existing references but left some watches unchanged. The nomenclature of the collection has also received a subtle makeover, morphing from ‘Portuguese’ to ‘Portuguiser’.
Christian Knoop, IWC’s highly talented Creative Director, has exercised judicious restraint whilst revisiting the Portuguiser collection. The array of watches are highly regarded by many watch collectors for their timeless styling and clean-cut appearance. Thankfully, I would liken Mr Knoop’s approach to that of an artisan restoring an old building. He has removed some signs of ageing without losing the beauty and essence of the original architecture.
It is whilst reappraising the assembled collection at a nearby branch of Berry’s Jewellers in Leeds, that I became aware that I had made a glaring omission. Despite writing about numerous watches over the years, I had never reviewed one of my favourite chronograph designs of all time, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3714.
Launched in 1998, the IWC Portugiesier Chronograph has enjoyed great commercial success. Indeed, according to the Swiss watch brand it is ‘the most popular Portuguieser watch’. The model is available in five variants, two versions in 18-carat red gold and three references in steel. Surprisingly, for a gentleman who normally gravitates to noble metals, my favourite reference is the IWC Portugiesier Chronograph 3714, sporting a steel case, silver-plated dial and blue details. An extended period of reappraisal soon ensued.
While chronographs remain one of my favourite horological genres, I concede that, regrettably, some examples can appear cluttered and difficult to decipher. Thankfully, no such allegations can be levelled at this chronograph which communicates with its wearer with superb lucidity.
Feuille, or leaf shaped, hands gracefully point to Arabic numerals, denoting the time. The elongated, arc like profile of the hands, with their narrow, pointed tips exhibit an exquisite lithe form. Beyond their elegant posture, the hands prove highly functional, conferring ease of read-off.
The blued hands match the hour markers and alligator leather strap, exhibiting a comely cool, calm temperament to their appearance.
A svelte central chronograph seconds hand interfaces with a neat calibrated scale, gracing the inner flange of the dial.
There is a palpable sense of balance and symmetry to the design language employed. The bi-compax layout, with its snailed subdials, arranged along a north-south axis, bestows an equilibrium to the dial composition.
A 30-minute chronograph register is positioned below noon, partially cropping the hour markers presented. This truncated treatment is repeated at 6 o’clock, where the lower subdial, displaying small seconds, resides. The small seconds is equipped with a hacking facility, allowing the wearer to pull out the crown, pause the running seconds hand and synchronise it with a reference clock by pushing it home.
Finally, a sense of harmony, once again, pervades the layout of this watch with the text applied adjacent 3 and 9 o’clock. The words ‘IWC Schaffhausen’ are positioned on the left hand side of the dial, whilst opposite, ‘Chronograph Automatic’ is proclaimed. The former sits slightly higher on the dial and incorporates text avec serifs, but to the casual observer appears very similar.
Part of the success of the IWC Portugiesier Chronograph 3714 can be attributed to its modest dimensions. The case measures 40.9mm in diameter with a thickness of 12.3mm, suiting a broad variety of wrist sizes. Indeed, this watch looks perfectly at ease on the arms of both male and female wearers.
All surfaces of the case are highly polished, save for the caseband, vertical flanks of the lugs and the central area of the caseback. The crown and push pieces prove simple to operate whilst not unduly protruding.
A minor criticism is that caseback is solid. Personally, I prefer watches which feature a sapphire crystal on their dorsal plane, according a view of the movement.
The same Calibre 79350 has powered the IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3714 for some time. The self-winding movement is based on the ETA / Valjoux 7750 but has been heavily modified by IWC.
Whilst I accept that the watch buying public have an insatiable appetite for ‘in-house’ movements, the reliability of the ETA / Valjoux 7750 is legendary. Moreover, the relative simplicity of the movement when compared with an integrated chronograph will prove cheaper to service.
IWC does offer its own Calibre 89361 in-house movement which powers the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Reference 3905. This movement is beautifully decorated, has a longer power reserve and includes a ‘flyback’ function. However, this higher specification is reflected in the asking price.
Ultimately, would-be buyers have to decide on whether they are prepared to spend the premium for the in-house movement. It’s a tough choice, but irrespective of the decision made, I suspect they will be pleased with the outcome.
I regularly write about new timepieces which exhibit avant-garde, thought-provoking aesthetics. However, I continue to admire classically styled timepieces which confer a timeless allure that will not diminish with advancing years.
The term ‘icon’ is used too often by watch companies, but in the case of the Portugieser Chronograph it is justifiably deserved. Christian Knoop should be applauded, he could have been tempted to alter the design significantly, but his restraint was well judged.
Throughout much of my adulthood I have appreciated the design of the IWC Portugieser Chronograph 3714 and grown accustomed to its enduring charms. It remains a watch I continue to covet, and like Cascais, it bestows a welcome sense of familiarity of which I will never tire.
- Model: IWC Portugiesier Chronograph 3714
- Reference: IW371446
- Case: Stainless steel; diameter 40.9mm; height 12.3mm; water resistant to 3 bar (30 metres); sapphire crystal to front and solid caseback.
- Functions: Hours; minutes; small seconds; chronograph.
- Movement: Calibre 79350, self-winding movement; frequency 28,800 vph (4Hz); 31 jewels; power reserve 44 hours.
- Strap / Bracelet: Blue alligator leather strap presented on a stainless steel folding clasp
- Price: £5,900 (RRP as at 14.10.2015)
I would like to thank Berry’s Jewellers, for kindly providing access to this remarkable timepiece.