Portofino: An Ultimate Guide to The Classic IWC Watch


The International Watch Company (IWC) has earned its fame for producing classic yet innovative watches that are as functional as they are beautifully designed. Started in 1868 by American engineer and watchmaker, Florentine Aristo Jones, the brand has a rich history, deeply rooted in American entrepreneurship, and founded in the fascinating history of Swiss luxury watchmaking. 

The brand offers six signature watch families that range from diving to dress watches. These include the classics such as the IWC Pilot watches and the IWC Portofino watch family which is equally popular with both men and women, thanks to its puristic design. In this article, we are covering everything you need to know about IWC’s most successful families: IWC Portofino. 

The Classic IWC Portofino and Its Ties with an Italian Fishing Village 

Portofino is the namesake of an Italian fishing village that inspired the elegant wristwatch. Hollywood celebrities frequented the village for its colorful buildings lining the shore, picturesque harbor, and easy, laid-back charm. Today, the village continues to draw dignitaries, royalties, the elite, and the adventurers, and so does the IWC Portofino

Watches from this family are known for being intentionally elegant, with clean dials and slim round cases. Some models even feature a back engraving of the famed Portofino harbor. 

1984: The First Portofino 

The first Portofino was introduced in 1984 and the model was known as Portofino Hand Wound Moonphase, Ref 5251. A classic of the IWC manufacture, it was an elegant wristwatch that brings together bold and timeless design features—an oversized case, slim profile, Breguet-style hands, and elongated Roman numerals. 

But, what sets Ref 5251 apart is its extra-large moon-phase complication displayed at three o’clock, featuring a gold moon against a blue backdrop. The contrast between the white sundial and the golden moon resembles a fried egg, hence its nickname The Fried Egg. The timepiece established the moon-phase as the most exceptional complication of the Portofino family. 

1995: Romana Perpetual Calendar 

Over the years, the watch family has grown to include some of the most iconic pieces that have been in high demand among men and women alike. It has added various complications to the line, including a rotating date display, and has further heightened comfort and elegance by engineering thin cases for the later Portofino models. 

One of these pieces is the Grande Complication, which boasts a precise interplay of 659 individual mechanical parts and was the most complex watch available upon its release in 1990. Later in 1995, IWC also launched the Romana Perpetual Calendar, which once held the title of being the world’s thinnest perpetual calendar watches. It featured roman numerals, date sub-dial (3 o’clock), month sub-dial (6 o’clock), weekday sub-dial (9 o’clock), moon-phase display (12 o’clock), and a year aperture between VII and VIII.

Present Day: Luxurious Details with Understated Appeal 

Fast forward to today, Portofino watches are still known for their elegant and clean features. They have managed to introduce luxurious details to their timepieces while maintaining their signature understated appeal. 

Various complications have been made available for the line, but hand-wound, moon-phase watches remain available. A case in point is the Portofino Automatic Moon Phase 37, which features a moon-phase display, silver-plated dial, and an alligator strap. 

A Portofino For You 

While an IWC Portofino can fetch an average of $3,700, different materials and complications can hike up its price to as much as $10,000 and higher. But, one thing’s certain, though. When you purchase a Portofino, you’re purchasing an investment timepiece from a brand with an established history of quality watchmaking. Here, we are concluding with the factors that make Portofino an excellent choice. 

1. Reputation 

IWC boasts over 150 years of legacy and the Portofino family itself has been around for over three decades. If it isn’t any indication, the line has proven its quality and timelessness, which are at the core of IWC’s values. 

2. Long-Term Investment 

With their established brand name, excellent functionality, and quality materials, it’s not surprising that IWC watches hold their value over time. These watches offer a great resale value, particularly when properly maintained and cared for. 

3. Versatile Style 

It’s often difficult to settle on selecting just one watch, particularly when you’re purchasing your first investment timepiece. Some watches are made for certain applications so they may be too sporty for the office or too dressy for outdoors. But, with the perfect balance of style and comfort, this doesn’t have to be the case with IWC Portofino. 

A Watch for Every Occasion 

Regardless of the attire or event, there’s a Portofino watch you can wear without it looking out of place. Its timeless design guarantees that you can wear your Portofino for many years—add that to the fact that it is made with quality materials, from leather to metal, which is intentionally built to last. 

Discover a Portofino watch for you! Did you find this article informative? Let us know by leaving a comment below. 

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