IWC Portugieser 7-day power reserve (IW500109): Hands on review.

On this week’s review we have an absolutely gorgeous IWC Portugieser Automatic with a 7-day power reserve from our preowned site: . Some watches, the pictures just do not do them justice, and while it is clear to see the elegant nature of this piece from our extensive in house photography, the experience of this stunning watch needs more description than just photos can provide.



The IWC Portugieser has a rich and long history, spanning for approaching a century. At the request of two Portuguese merchants from IWC was a large wristwatch with the accuracy of a pocket watch. Resulting in a more substantial piece than the standard at the time being initially released in 1939. Some key design elements have remained the same for the now 80 years IWC have continued the Portugieser range. With the hands and numerals changing little in its decades of life. Various Iterations of the Portugieser were released by IWC from the late 1930s and the initial release, with the limited edition 125th anniversary Portugieser released in 1993 which brought the Portugieser back to the forefront of the IWC collection. Followed shortly, by the 1995 releases of the Portugieser minute repeater and Portugieser chronograph Rattrapante. Then in 2000, to mark the start of a new millennium the piece in question was released with the Portugieser 2000 automatic. With a newly designed movement, completely from scratch, the resulting Calibre 5000 contained a power reserve of 7 days and a Pellaton winding system. IWC followed up the release of the Portugieser 2000 with several other interpretations of the Portugieser design, with the latest being their 15 piece limited edition Portugieser Constant Force Tourbillion “150 Years”, marking their 150 year anniversary with a standout piece from the Portugieser range.


Compared to some of the more ‘overt’ pieces we’ve reviewed in the last few weeks (looking at you Breitling) the Portugieser is comparatively understated in design. The case, when looking at the face appears in full polish, with a polished, smooth recessed bezel and polished lug faces. However, looking at the watch from the side reveals straight grain brushed case edges that flows onto and down the lugs adding a gorgeous contrast to finishes on the case. The case dimensions are ever so slightly on the larger side but only enough to give it a presence on the wrist and not to be over bearing. With a case diameter of 42.3mm and a case thickness of 14.2mm. The case contrasts the dial very well with the cool, icy look of the case making the matte black dial all the more noticeable and matching well with the hands and applied stainless steel numerals. The crown features the IWC insignia on the face with polished, knurled edges adding to the polished and sharp look of the case work while being large enough and sufficiently textured to provide enough traction for winding the 7-day power reserve. 



The dial and hands can be quickly summarised and you can skip to the next section, the combination of the dial and hands is breath-taking. The slender, sharp polished steel Feullie style hands with a cap concealing the pinion immediately gives a smart and elegant look and the lack of any lume fill maintains the cleanliness of the dial. In addition, the polished applique numerals and hour markers add to the overall sheen of the dial when combined with the polished handset giving flashes of icy white that stand out from the black dial. The dial is clearly printed with white ‘IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN’ text at the 12 O’clock position on the dial as well as printed train track style minutes track for both the dial and second hands sub-dial. The lack of a main sweeping seconds hand and using a second hand sub-dial balances the dial into a bi-compax layout with the power reserve indicator at the 3 O’clock position on the dial. The power reserve being the standout complication of this piece adds a solitary pop of colour on the dial with the red bar indicating the main spring has almost completely exhausted its built up potential energy from winding. The corresponding days of power reserve are indicated on the sub dial according to the level of tension held in the main spring due to winding by the crown or automatic winding rotor. To top off the sleek design of the Portugieser it is fitted with a convex sapphire crystal, with AR coating on both sides. The AR on the Portugieser gives a charismatic deep blue reflection under light. Hard to capture on camera but the all the elements of the dial combine in natural lighting and give a supremely luxurious overall presentation of the dial, accentuating its minor details like the radial texturing to the recessed sub-dials and the hands cap.


This piece we have with us is on a black alligator strap with one of the best buckles I have ever seen on a leather strap. ‘IWC’ branding is engraved in the buckle with a sand blasted type finish within the text and a deeply bevelled polished edge with a brushed finish to the buckle face and sides. The strap itself is very malleable and the watch with its reasonable dimensions is very comfortable to wear. A strap width of 22mm further adds to the understated dimensions of the Portugieser.



This IWC Portugieser is equipped with a descendant of the original calibre 5000. once again this IWC continues to impress with again, one of the most stunning exhibition case backs around. There is no movement spacer to be seen on this piece and the movement fills the entire case without a millimetre to spare. And the clear display back leaves all to show. This piece as you may have noticed features a 7-day, 168 hour power reserve facilitated by a twin barrel build with a Pellaton winding system, meaning the automatic wheel, pawls and rotor bearings are made from extremely robust ceramic that can be seen through the large display back. This is a magnificently finished piece, with Côtes de Genève and perlage finish adorning the automatic movement, topping it off with an 18 Carat gold medallion on the centre of the rotor with the IWC seal. It is a very smooth movement to operate with a satisfying and noticeable date change from the date aperture at 6 O’clock and smooth flow of the hands when changing the time. A 28,800 V.P.H means an almost flawless sweep on the seconds hand within the sub-dial. IWC combining 257 components and 31 jewels into an incredibly well presented movement.



I very quickly learned writing about this piece that it has so much more to offer than one might quickly assume at first glance. The black dial and refined case work isn’t one that you would spot across a hallway like the Breitling we reviewed a few weeks ago. However, when on your wrist and inspecting this watch with a more delicate eye, the refined nature of IWC is clear to see. The 3D reflections of the polished steel hands, numerals and hour markers with their subtly chamfered edges. The clean radial turning of the sub-dials. The Slight texturing to the dial that gives a muted sunburst effect. And the situation only improves when you turn the watch over, the wide aperture exhibition case back leaves nothing hidden, and the exceptional finish with the 18 Ct gold medallion on the rotor weight is easy to admire. On the wrist it is a comfortable watch to wear, it would slide easily under a cuff but wouldn’t look out of place in a t-shirt and jeans due to its reasonable size. And with the standout complication of the 7-day power reserve in addition to all of the above there really is plenty to praise in this superb watch!

If you want to be the next owner of this captivating time piece, view it to buy at our Pre-Owned site Or, to simply enjoy this gorgeous piece, check out our extensive in-house photography of the watch below in the Gallery.

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