IWC has had a recent flurry of activity — from updating its Portugieser chronograph to a spate of new Pilot watches such as a limited edition tribute. The brand has also introduced two of its own Portugieser watches, the IWC Portugieser Chronograph and the IWC Portugieser Automatic in fresh blue dial versions with stainless steel cases. With the trend firmly established across the industry, core collections and popular models having a blue dial is a simple way for manufacturers to supply something fresh.The dim blue dials have a sunburst finish and the double sub-dial design further makes them seem similar at a glance. The stainless steel case — like preceding Portugieser watches — is controlled but casual in design with traditional tapered lugs along with a thin bezel. The Portugieser Automatic is the larger of the pair with a 42.3millimeter bezel plus a dual stepped case. It is also equipped with a bigger fluted crown — but similar in layout to the Portugieser Chronograph that has a 40.9millimeter case. Usually, we’d expect the chronograph version to be bigger than its time-only counterpart.Rated to 30m of water resistance, each of those new IWC Portugieser watches is best suited for daily office wear (in case the design and the existence of an alligator strap did not give away that already). While the Automatic is equipped with a display back, the Chronograph isn’t, and I will get into why shortly.Going back into the dial, the two watches have implemented Arabic markers and polished, rhodium plated leaf shaped hands that complement the case quite well. The Automatic includes a sub-dial at 3:00 that indicates power reserve and another sub-dial at 9:00 for constant seconds. The date window at 6:00 is hard to overlook its white date wheel standing out from the blue dial. I know that it is tough to fit a date wheel into a sunburst dialup, but it is not impossible, and at that price point, many will desire that. The date display is regrettable, in my opinion, and really detracts from that which I see to be another handsome, attractive watch.
Although the primary mission of the Dubai Watch Week is to educate the public about the history and traditions of fine Swiss watchmaking (see separate article), there was no shortage of new watches for fans to discover at this year’s event, including special limited editions for the UAE and some first previews of watches that will be shown at the SIHH in January.
Ferdinand Berthoud brought its award-winning FB 1 chronometer to last year’s Dubai Watch Week and there was plenty of feedback from a watch-savvy public. The brand took this into account and came back this year with two new FB 1.4 models in titanium.
FB 1.4 Chronometer in titanium, available in two different dial coloursrs © Ferdinand Berthoud
Audemars Piguet, Roger Dubuis and Vacheron Constantin all used the Creative Hubs during the Dubai Watch Week to showcase some of the models they will be presenting at the SIHH in Geneva in January. Audemars Piguet focused on new models for ladies in the Millenary collection, while Vacheron Constantin presented a full calendar Traditionnelle model in its Collection Excellence Platine line (where as much of the watch as possible is in platinum – the case, crown, dial and even the thread in the stitching on the strap!) and a Dual Time version of the Overseas. For Roger Dubuis, the SIHH will be just one among several communications platforms next year as the brand moves heavily into motorsport and the world of luxury cars with its partnership with Lamborghini. Guests were treated to a sneak peek of a new white model in the brand’s Excalibur line that uses the rubber from Grand Prix winning Pirelli tyres on its straps. Richard Mille also presented a motorsport-themed watch in the form of a limited-edition RM 055 model for the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, of which the brand is an official partner.
New Millenary models © Audemars Piguet
The full calendar Traditionnelle model and the Dual Time versions of the Overseas © Vacheron Constantin
Excalibur Spider Pirelli white © Roger Dubuis
Hublot presented two special editions for the UAE that used the same idea as the Italia Independent models presented earlier this year, incorporating fabrics into the dial and strap. This time, it is the unique fabric used in the traditional ghatra of the region that is found on the dial. It was a lot more difficult to use on the dial because the fabric is very fine, but the result was well received by the local visitors, although they were as surprised as I was to discover that this fabric is actually made in Switzerland!
UAE special editions © Hublot
Hublot’s sister brand TAG Heuer also presented a limited edition for the region during the Dubai Watch Week. Unusually, the launch of the Autavia UAE edition, which was developed by TAG Heuer in partnership with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, will be staggered. Only nine were available during the Dubai Watch Week. A further 70 will be released in December and the remaining 71 pieces in the limited series of 150 will be available in the new year. With a tropical-style dial and brown colours on the bezel and strap reminiscent of the desert sands, Mohammed Abdulmagied Seddiqi, Chief Commercial Officer of Seddiqi Holdings, is convinced that this watch will be a desirable collector’s item.
Autavia, UAE special edition © TAG Heuer
In contrast, IWC chose an altogether more refined model for its limited edition for the region, which was also produced in collaboration with Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons. The manually-wound Portugieser tourbillon with its distinctive green dial will undoubtedly appeal to an altogether different clientele and its limited to just 25 pieces.
Portugieser Tourbillon with a green dial © IWC