IWC has released an updated successor for the Portugieser Chronograph Classic, a watch well-known for its unique chronograph totalizer display, in-house movement, and sporty yet elegant design. The new reference 3903 replaces the reference 3904, with several subtle design changes and updates which help improve the overall aesthetic of the watch.
The Portugieser line (formerly called Portuguese) was considered to be large-sized watches when launched in the 1930s. However, at 42mm, the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic is about the median by today’s standards. Offered in either stainless steel or rose gold, the case is elegant with a touch of sportiness thanks to the broad, double-stepped case and round chronograph pushers. In addition, the watch is also available in two dial colors: silver and blue. Both dial colors are available in the stainless steel option but the rose-gold is only offered with a silver dial. While all three options work well, my personal favorite is the stainless steel with silver dial and the heat-blued hands.
The highlight of the watch is the in-house chronograph movement with chronograph hours and minutes displayed at 12 o’clock and including a flyback function. The caliber 89361 is part of the 89000 family of IWC movements, some of which are found in halo offerings such as the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. The calibre 89361 is manufactured in-house, offers a 68-hour power reserve, and can be seen in all its Geneva-striped glory through the display caseback. The skeletonized and decorated rotor also helps reveal as much of the chronograph mechanism as possible for the owner’s viewing pleasure.
On the dial side, we have a two-register layout with running seconds at 6 o’clock and, unique to this movement, a combined totalizer for chronograph hours and minutes at 12 o’clock. The familiar way of displaying the hours and minutes makes reading the elapsed chronograph time easier and more intuitive. In the images here, for example, the elapsed time would be 10 hours, 9 minutes, and 23 seconds. The dial is completed by a railway track chapter ring, date window, applied Arabic numeral indexes, and elegant minute and hour leaf-shaped hands.
The dial is silver plated with a zero-to-sixty-styled indicator, another of the many motorsport-inspired design changes. On that note, IWC has stated that the colour scheme of crimson, white, and anthracite was supposed to reflect the color scheme discovered on race tracks around the globe, i.e., white and red to its curbs and anthracite for the asphalt. Each of the hands related to the chronograph function are in red, while the ones devoted to telling time are in black. The dial is completed by a date window at 3 o’clock and at a last touch to the motorsport motif, a tachymeter scale round the border – a feature which, although not particularly beneficial in this day and age, was unquestionably expected on such a watch.All of this is housed in a 44mm titanium instance ranked for 120m of water-resistance, with a screw down crown and rectangular pushers. At 15.9mm thick and with Grade 5 ceramic that has the appearance of stainless steel, so you would be forgiven for expecting this for a heavy watch. But, one of the principal advantages of titanium is that it is a very light yet strong alloy. Though using titanium isn’t unique to this small edition, it definitely fits right in with the concept of functionality motorsports where lightweight, powerful materials are highly valuable. The case has brushed sides, polished front and back bezels and glistening crown guards and pushers. “IWC’s relationship with Mercedes-AMG goes back to 2004, and has led to several limited editions, several with unique case materials such as boron carbide. This watch represents another landmark in that continuing relationship. Bearing this collaborative relationship in your mind, owners of each of the five special-edition Mercedes-AMG GT3 “Edition 50” automobiles will also get a limited edition IWC Ingenieur Chronograph Sport. Like the opinion, this car was specially designed and launched to celebrate the 50-year anniversary.
The color of the indexes and hands differ and are designed to contrast with the dial color. The stainless-steel with silver dial has blue indexes with heat-blued steel hands, while the blue dial has polished steel hands with silver indexes. The rose-gold watch, of course, has gold hands and indexes. This is the most noticeable change from the predecessor which had silver indexes and hour and minute hands on a silver dial. This change is definitely an improvement and enhances the aesthetics and, more importantly, the legibility of the dial.
While the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic ships with an alligator leather strap, black for stainless steel variants and brown for rose-gold, it is likely to also pair well with more casual straps making it a versatile daily wearer that plays well with both formal and more casual attire.
The IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic watch is not an overhaul of its predecessor, but an update which brings more refinement and allows all the design elements to work together harmoniously. The IWC Portugieser Chronograph Classic is now available for a price of $12,100 for both stainless steel variants and $20,100 for the rose gold variant. iwc.com