In today’s technological era, the word “Digital” definitely reminds us of electronic devices and products that we have been inundated with since the beginning of the digital age. For watch collectors, however, the word “Digital” implies something else. Usually a promise of something unusual and exciting. The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition 75th Anniversary is no exception.
When we first set our eyes on this timepiece, it was the two digital displays that really intrigued us. They were large, prominent, taking up significant real estate on the dial. Yes, we have seen watches with giant digital display before. The Lange Zietwerk is one example, but in that case, the huge digits are used to indicate the hours and minutes. Here the giant digits are used to show the date and the month, somewhat unusual to say the least. And we like it!
This watch is not perfect, of course, nothing is. But we think the effort made by IWC commendable. The visual result is elegant and classical, as a Portugieser should be, and at the same time manages to hint at the mechanical complexity within. Kudos to the designer on this aspect.
The digital display is pretty large, making legibility outstanding. This is definitely a welcoming feature for many collectors. In many perpetual calendars, by necessity, have to cram a lot of information onto the dial, making the indicators crowded and small. The combination of a busy dial and small details/ apertures make the process of reading certain indicators a harrowing experience, especially for the collectors who are a bit more advance in age, where eyesight may be a challenge. The use of big digital apertures and giant numerals allow the users to read the month and date with ease.
The IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary” is powered by IWC’s own in-house Calibre 89801. This self-winding movement is an improved version of the Calibre 89360, in which the latter is the culmination of 4 years of hard work by a team from the Schaffhausen based watchmaker. The Calibre 89801 features a particularly efficient double-pawl winding mechanism. In this assembly, four pawls arranged diagonally to the pawl wheel – in other words two sets of double pawls – convey the push-and-pull motion from the rotor to the barrel. This solution eliminates dead spots during winding and boosts the system’s efficiency by a significant 30 per cent.
One interesting aspect about the design of IWC’s digital display is its ability to transfer energy from one digital indicator to another. Every night, when the date display moves forward, a switch activates to siphon off a little of the energy of the jump. This is stored and accumulated till the time comes for it to be discharged precisely at the end of the month or year when, in addition to the date and month disc, the leap year disc also needs to be advanced. This will ensure that the advancement of the month and leap year display will not reduce the power reserve of the timepiece significantly.
Aside from the digital perpetual display, the watch also features a fly-back chronograph function and a leap-year display. A power reserve of 68 hours power reserve is available.
The 45mm timepiece comes in three variants: one in platinum, and two in rose gold. As for the two rose gold versions, the difference lies in the color of the dial (white and grey). Due to the case size and the choice of material used, the wristwatch actually feels a little hefty. The watch, however, feels rather comfortable when it is being worn on the wrist.
The production of this timepiece is limited: there are only 25 pieces that are cased in platinum, and 75 pieces for each rose gold variants. Each timepiece is paired with a beautifully stitched Santoni strap, which brings out the elegant and classical side of the timepiece.
In all, the IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Edition “75th Anniversary” is an excellent timepiece. The watch is interesting technically and the aesthetics are rather stunning. This is definitely a timepiece for those who want to own a perpetual calendar, but with a little twist and greater legibility.