Watch Of The Week: IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph

Link Copied


Watch Of The Week: IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph

Words by Mr Chris Hall

22 June 2020

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph. Photograph courtesy of IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN

The IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Portugieser Chronograph in its weekend wardrobe; a slightly more action-ready take on the classic mid-century design.

Behind the evocative name lies one of IWC’s most capable chronographs, but also one of the least well understood. The problem – if you can call it a problem – is that IWC makes a lot of rather nice chronograph watches (we made a video picking out three of our favourites) and between the many different Pilot’s, Portofino and Ingenieur models, not to mention the regular Portugieser Chronograph, the Yacht Club sometimes struggles to get a look-in. With an all-new model on the books for 2020, it’s time for this unsung hero to have its moment in the sun.

If the Portugieser Chronograph – now available in some bold tones of red and green – is the chronograph equivalent of a fine suit, the Yacht Club Chronograph is what you get when you swap the suit for chinos, deck shoes and a gilet of a weekend. (We’re thinking full-look Polo Ralph Lauren; when your watch is actually called the “Yacht Club”, you may as well commit to being as preppy as humanly possible. Plus, there’s the whole red-white-and-blue thing going on.)

Another way to think of it is a Portugieser chronograph that is just a little bit more in every regard. It’s bigger, for one thing (44.6mm versus 43.5mm), but it’s also burlier in its design. The bezel is thicker, which, together with the concentric minute and second tracks on the dial, give the effect of a thicker “frame” around the actual timekeeping and chronograph functions. There is more going on on the dial in general: larger luminous hour indexes; indented and textured subdials and splashes of colour here and there. Also, and we can’t say with 100 per cent certainty that this is deliberate, but the extended lines at odd-numbered points on the 12 o’clock subdial give the impression of a capstan – a nice little extra nod to the sailing world, whether that’s intentional or not.

The pushers are more emphatically styled, too, with broad, flat heads that are easier to use on the go. And whereas the Portugieser Chronograph is in its element on a leather strap, the Yacht Club looks best on a steel bracelet. It’s hard to believe that’s a new addition to this, the third-generation Yacht Club chrono – the watch is so at home here. It’s worth noting that, in keeping with the watch’s overall character, the bracelet isn’t totally rugged – you get these ingot-shaped polished centre sections to remind you it’s still a part of the Portugieser family, a range that has elegance running through it from top to bottom.

It has more to its game from a functional point of view, too. IWC’s in-house calibre 89361 adds a flyback complication, the ability to time up to 12 hours (the Portugieser tops out at 30 minutes), with elapsed hours and minutes measured together on the 12 o’clock subdial and – as you would expect for something so overtly sea-faring – water-resistance to 60m.

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Portugieser Yacht Club Automatic Chronograph ref. IW390702

Materials: Stainless steel

Diameter: 44.6mm

Height: 14.4mm

Water-resistance: 60m

Power reserve: 68 hours

Price: £11,600

The ones to watch