The IWC Portugieser Chronograph (ref: 3714) was a watch that I considered buying when I was contemplating my first IWC 7 years ago. It was going to be that or a Pilot’s Chronograph (ref 3717).
Eventually I went with the Pilot’s Chronograph, as I was more inclined to imagining myself behind the controls of a fighter jet when I looked at my wrist. That being said, I have seen the Portugieser Chronograph on the wrists of many a newly minted watch collector over the years, and in my estimation, the entry path into the brand is either through this watch or something from the Pilot’s collection.
As an entry level model, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph (ref: 3714) has the kind of clean and sober design that is just attractive to many eyes. Virtually unchanged since 1998 since it was launched, it is the closest thing to a dress watch in the catalogue and a remarkable counterpoint to the more military oriented design of the Pilots watches.
With this watch being so important to IWC fans, it stands to reason that it would be upgraded at the right time, with just the right amount to differentiate itself from the classic model but too much because of the winning formula that it already has.
The new Portugieser Chronograph comes in upgraded form with a new in-house movement calibre 69355 from the 69000 series. This family of movements was first introduced to the IWC collection at the 74th edition of the Goodwood Member Meeting in 2016 in a limited edition series of new Ingenieur Chronographs with calibre 69370. In fact, the new Portugieser Chronograph that goes by the reference number of 3716 has already been seen before as part of the 150th Anniversary Limited Edition watches of 2018. This means that the new IWC Portugieser Chronograph ref: 3716 under discussion here is now part of the regular collection, and not like the previous iteration, a limited series.
The concept behind the calibre 69000 family of movements is quite simple – take the basic gear train and barrel from the Valjoux 7750, add a number of improvements such as a column wheel and LIGA fabricated escape wheel and pallet fork, then change the architecture of the movement to allow easier production and servicing. Some of the innovations to this effect include having all the chronograph functions on the movement side, instead of on the dial side in a Valjoux 7750, and having parts that require oiling located on the same level to allow the process to be automated.
All these changes result in a movement that is slightly thicker, which carries over to the thickness of the cases of the new ref: 3716 over the older ref: 3714 as can be seen with the two watches side by side.
The new model comes in at 13.1mm over 12.6mm for the older one. The case diameter has also grown a little from 40.9mm in the original versus 41mm in the new ref: 3716. Basically a 0.1mm difference.
In fact the differences are hard to spot without having both watches side by side and that is basically the point. The new movement upgrades the watch without destroying what people have come to love about it.
Considering the upgrades, including a see through case-back to view the new movement, and the column wheel, it is surprising that the price of the new watch is only marginally higher, SGD$11,200 for the ref:3714 versus SGD$11,800 for the new ref: 3716. It’s a no brainer then, the new one is a much better option.
Six different versions are available with silver, blue and black dials in stainless steel case, and two in 18k 5N gold with slate and silver dials.