Ah, it summer-time! The sun is shining, birds are singing and you need a summer wrist-companion. Comfort, sportiness and perhaps something trendy? If one were to screen through the IWC collection, chances are they’d pick the Ingenuier or the versatile Pilot. But would you consider a Portugieser. Here, we bring you a in-depth look at one such example: the 2018 IWC Yacht Club Chronograph. It checks all those “summer-ready” boxes (if there is one), on paper at least . But, how does it stack up?
Review: IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph
OK, so it is summer all year long in Singapore…all the more the enjoy. IWC announced the new Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph in July 12, 2018. Here is our hands-on review.
The Case, Dial and Hands
Despite several key differences in stylistic design cues, the Yacht Club Chronograph is still instantly instantly recognisable as being part of the Portugieser collection.
The watch features a round stainless steel case which measures 43.5mm in diameter. Granted, a rather generous proportion, but one that is not new to the brand. It shares several design traits with the classic chronograph: the case shape, pushers and crown looks identical. However, where the Portugieser family is best suited for dressing up, the Yacht-Club is all for enjoying the water; oceans, boating (and desk diving!). Its appearance is rather sporty, with a maxi-sized case, thick bezel and crown guards. Despite its size, the watch wore really well: it sat comfortably on the author’s (smaller than average) 5.5″ wrist with good all-round weight distribution. Furthermore, the 14.2mm case thickness ensured a pleasant wrist presence without being overbearing.
Finishing is a visual and physical treat: the case has a healthy blend of meticulously polished and brushed surfaces, ensuring a bright and seductive appearance. A sporty-elegance flair perhaps; flashy without being brash. Finally, the corners and sides features smooth, sensual curves with no ‘rough edges’.
The dial is the highlight of this watch, sporting a striking sunburst blue with contrasting white sub dials. The top and bottom counters records hours/minutes-elapsed and running-seconds respectively. They don a circular pattern and sits slightly recessed into the dial for better depth. Its printing is somewhat busy with two scales, but we had no issues with readability. In fact, the entire dial features a rather unadulterated and sleek appearance: no ‘handy reminders’ of specifications or certifications – a detail that is greatly appreciated. Additionally, we enjoyed the subtle, charming touches such as the distinct red chronograph seconds hand. Overall a well balanced dial with effective use of negative space.
To top it off, the sporty mien is accompanied by polished appliqué arabic numerals – one that adds an elegant flair to the watch. Extending outwards are 13 hour-markers. And complimenting them is a set of feuille (leaf)-shaped minute and hour hands. Both the hour-markers and hands have been filled with SuperLuminova which ensures good legibility in all situations.
There were several minor complaints however. Some may prefer that the top sub dial be made slightly smaller to avoid cutting off the ’11’ numeral (think Portugieser Chronograph Classic). Another is the ‘flipped’ markings on the counters. That said, these minor niggles do not detract much from its overall looks.
Turning the watch over, we find a see-through sapphire case back. The watch comes on an accompanying blue rubber strap with metal keeper. One interesting note about the rubber is the motif underneath which prevents slippage while on the wrist.
The Movement: IWC 89361
Inside the Yacht-Club houses the IWC 89361 calibre – an in-house manufactured chronograph movement. It boasts an impressive 60-hours power reserve and beats at 28,800 bph (4Hz). Furthermore, this self-winding movement features a flyback function and date complication. Finishing is well executed entirely with haute horology decorations such as Côtes de Genève (Geneva Stripes) and perlage (circular graining).
The chronograph pushers feels pronounced upon activation and winding was smooth with good tactile feedback. This movement can be found across IWC’s portfolio of chronograph watches as well as other iterations of the Yacht-Club, thus its choice appears to be a no-brainer.
The IWC Portugieser Yacht-Club Chronograph “Summer Edition” has a recommended retail price of S$17,900. It’s priced appropriately, in-line with other sporty and versatile chronographs. If one is looking for a summers’ timepiece, the choices are endless. Here, we bring you a non-exhaustive list of timepieces which are as competent of transitioning seamlessly from ocean jaunts to cocktail parties.
We kick things off with the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Offshore Diver Chronograph. When it comes to luxury sports watches, the Royal Oak is the undisputed industry icon. The iconic octagonal case was conceived by none other than Gerald Genta himself. The current iteration is fitted on a rubber straps and are available in a slew of funky colour variations. Its not just all looks without brawn, as the watch is rated to a depth of 300 meters. Highly recognisable (and desirable) on land yet able to perform out at sea – a perfect summer’s timepiece indeed. The ROO Diver Chronograph is priced at S$31,900.
Rolex Yachtmaster II (ref. 116680): a watch considered by many Rolex enthusiasts to be the most unapologetic (some call sacrilege) of the brands’ conservative stable. Ostentatious is an understatement as its 44mm case with shiny ceramic bezel and polished center links is the opposite of subtility. Yet, it remains as a technical masterpiece, housing one of Rolex’s most complicated calibres: a flyback regatta timer with memory. Admittedly not very useful for the ordinary folks, but as a sporty watch, it is rather capable with good legibility and wrist presence. Also makes for an excellent summer statement-timepiece. (Fun fact: It is the largest commercially-available Rolex watch alongside the Deepsea.) The Yachtmaster II has a recommended retail price of S$25,120.
The Rolex Daytona (ref. 116500LN) – perhaps the most ‘”exclusive” watch on this list. It’s sized at 40mm and powered by the calibre 4130 in-house column wheel movement. An excellent choice all year round. The Daytona is priced at S$16,660.
Another option is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Chronograph 5968A – the 179-years old maison’s sportiest line. Launched during Basel 2018, it’s the first Aquanaut to sport an in-house chronograph movement. Its case is sized at a contemporary 42.2mm and has a thickness of 11.9mm. The watch is delivered with two abrasion and UV-resistant composite straps: a black which is standard-issue and a rather un-Patek bright orange. Still, its price is very-Patek at SGD57,700.
A mid-range piece is the Tudor Heritage Chrono Blue. It’s a rather cool-looking chronograph, with a refreshing white dial and striking blue-orange accents. Powering it is a Tudor-modified ETA 2892 movement which delivers a 42-hours power reserve. The Heritage Chrono Blue retails for S$5,880.
For the budget conscious, we propose the Seiko Prospex Turtle SRPC91 “Save The Ocean”. Robust build, in-house movement and a handsome blue waves motif dial. It offers an incredible quality-to-price ratio, if there is one. Can you go ever wrong? The Turtle retails at €450.
There’s much to like about the 2018 IWC Portugieser Yacht-Club. The contrasting blue dial and white sub dials is visually clean and appealing. Its design draws heavy inspiration from the classic Portugieser Chronograph and is rather aesthetically pleasing. The chronograph and date complications serves a functional purpose. Finally, the accompanied blue rubber strap is comfortable and completes the “summer package” look.
An area to nitpick would be the finer attention-to-details. In addition, its upsized case might not sit well with some, though as mentioned, it is comfortable on the author’s wrist. Nonetheless, the Yacht-Club is a very handsome piece which (almost) manages to be the perfect summers’ wrist-companion.