IWC is renowned for larger timepieces with their modern flagship model being the IWC Big Pilot to many. But as we saw this past year, the Schaffhausen manufacture has taken notice of the increased demand for more scaled back timepieces – introducing the Big Pilot 43, for example, as a more compact alternative. Previously the Portofino Chronograph was available in a 42mm configuration, but while a respected design there was perhaps room for some modification considering its aesthetic skews more toward the elegant side of the spectrum. The new dressy yet subtly sporty IWC Portofino Chronograph 39 makes the collection a bit more wrist-accessible, returning to a more compact and classic dimension that opens the doors for more buyers to appreciate this well-balanced chronograph.
As its name suggests the three new stainless steel IWC Portofino Chronograph 39 watches are 39mm in diameter and have sporty slender thickness of 12.7mm. Each of the cases are almost entirely mirror polished, including the bezel, pushers, lugs, and caseband – the only brushed element being the solid caseback. The slim and sloped conical bezel may make the watch appear larger on the wrist, due to the larger real estate assumed by the dial, but it is certainly a more compact option than the 42mm configuration that preceded it. The IWC Portofino Chronograph 39 certainly airs on the dressier side of the spectrum, especially as a 30 metre water-resistant watch that’s primarily mirror polished, but nonetheless has a sporty essence as well being a stainless steel chronograph.
Buyers have three options to choose from: rhodium-plated hands on green or gold-plated hands on the black and silver-plated dial configurations. The black and green dials stand apart from the silver-plated finish with a clear sunburst finish that radiates throughout their hues. At 9′ and 3′, respectively, you’ll find “chronograph” and IWC Schaffhausen branding text, with sub-dials assuming their position at 12′ and 6′. The upper register conveys an elapsed minutes scale up to thirty minutes, white the lower register presents a running seconds sub dial. No luminescent coatings are present on any of the dials, again evidence of its design skewing towards the dressier side of the spectrum.
The IWC Portofino Chronograph 39 watches come on pin/buckle alligator straps – the green dial with a green strap, the black dial with a brown strap, and a black strap for the silver-plated dial. Personally I think I would want to swap the black strap to the black dial and the brown to the white, but with the rose hue of the gold-plated hands the existing pairings still work. I suspect however IWC would have no issue selling buyers additional 20mm alligator leather straps if you wanted to switch up the configuration, and at 20mm in width there are also plenty of aftermarket options to choose from. Considering the more dominant dressy facet of its aesthetic, and its level of water-resistance, I think the IWC Portofino Chronograph 39 looks perfect on a leather strap.
Inside the watch, beneath the solid caseback, is the Valjoux 7750 based IWC caliber 79350, a 272 component chronograph movement with a 28,800 vph beat rate and 44 hours of power reserve. While it is out of sight, the robust automatic caliber is still decorated with Côtes de Genève and perlage. For the record, the 79350 heavily builds upon its 7750 base, fabricated with IWC’s high standards and its final form retaining few of its ebauche’s standard components.