The IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-Day is a great watch. Elegant and refined yet contemporary at the same time. Not to mention the fact that at 42.3mm its case size is more reasonable than some of its larger peers. Granted it’s not the thinnest at 14.1mm, but you can still get away with sliding it under a shirt cuff. Plus, the Portugieser is one of IWC’s most recognisable and iconic lines. I myself owned one (a manual wind Ref 5454) for many years and still regret letting it go.
The current series of the Automatic 7-Day is the Ref IW5007, launched in 2015. Very nice but also quite pricey at retail. Which is why I will not be looking at that reference today. Instead, I’m going to focus some attention on its predecessor, the Ref IW5001. This series is a few years old now, and no longer available from IWC direct. So, your only option is to buy one on the secondary market. This is no bad thing, though, as you’re about to discover. Read on for four reasons why the IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-Day is great value preowned.
A (Very) Brief History Of The IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-Day
By watchmaking standards, the Portugieser Automatic 7-Day is a relatively new model. IWC unveiled the original in 2000, making it a touch over 20 years old. To be fair, the Portugieser only evolved into a collection in the early ’90s. Before that production volumes were low and limited to single references. Each more or less a variation of the inaugural model from 1939. That’s a story for another day though.
The Portugieser Automatic 7-Day was the result of 4 years of R&D. And at the time it was kind of a big deal for IWC. The brand has always been well-known for its engineering prowess. Even more so at that time due to the watchmaking genius that is Kurt Klaus. Inside this watch was the in-house Calibre 5000. Considered by many as game-changer for IWC. (Alongside the Calibre 8900 that came out around the same time.) Not only was it a good-looking movement, offering robust performance. It could also be manufactured at scale.
Its bidirectional automatic winding system incorporates a patent from the 1950s. Known as the Pellaton winding system, after Albert Pellaton. He was IWC’s technical director in the 1940s and ’50s. And the man responsible for designing IWC’s first automatic winding mechanism. In doing so, he invented an innovative pawl winding system which IWC patented. I’m not going to go into all the details about it here but if you want to know more, read this.
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Limited to 2,000 pieces, the original Portugieser Automatic 7-Day was quite the sensation. Available in stainless steel, pink gold and platinum it paved the way for the new era of the Portugeiser. (The platinum version was limited to 250 pieces, of which one is available from our retail partner WatchBox right now.) A decade later, IWC launched the 2nd generation of the Automatic 7-Day. The Ref IW5001 series. Which happens to be the watch we’re talking about today. So, let’s get to those 4 reasons the IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-Day is great value preowned.
Ageless Yet Versatile Design
One of the key drawcards of the Portugieser is its simple dial design. Yes, there are loads of variations now but at the core the blueprint remains the same. Arabic numerals for the hours. Leaf-shaped hands. Railway track chapter ring for the minutes. And a very thin bezel, making the case look even larger. It’s an ageless design yet one that is also very attractive and versatile. You can wear it dressed up or casual, in a variety of settings. It’s not sporty per se – like the Royal Oak – but you could wear it with a t-shirt to watch a game. And matched with a suit it takes your formal attire to a whole other level.
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On the time only versions, there’s usually running seconds on a sub-dial at six o’clock. Like the original from 1939. The Automatic 7-Day meanwhile has twin registers at 9 and 3 o’clock. The former for running seconds. The latter for the 7-day power reserve indicator. At 6 o’clock, the date appears via an aperture. And because there’s ample dial real estate, there’s no overlapping. All the different elements have room to breathe. One drawback is that there’s no lume. Which makes sense for a dress watch but means legibility at night is non-existent.
Reputable Brand Name
The International Watch Company, or IWC as its better known, has been in business for over 150 years. Yet with a young-ish CEO at the helm, the brand is as contemporary as ever. The product range is broad, with plenty of depth where you want it. And – like Richemont stablemate JLC – is well-regarded for its manufacturing expertise. In short, IWC is a legit Swiss watch brand with plenty of international clout.
There’s even a slew of sports-related partnerships, if that’s your thing. For example, IWC is the Official Engineering Partner of Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team. And has been since 2013. Hence the reason both Lewis Hamilton and Valteri Bottas wear IWC watches. Along with a whole host of other celebrity ambassadors.
The IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-Day Ref IW5001 series uses the 51011 Calibre. This is an IWC-manufactured movement and a direct descendant of the Calibre 5000. It’s equipped with the same bidirectional automatic Pellaton winding system as the original. And, of course, also delivers a seven-day power reserve. Which, to be fair, you could say is a bit redundant on an automatic watch. But IWC is all about innovation, and a 7-day power reserve is impressive. Even by today’s standards, let alone 20+ years ago when the base movement made its debut.
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It’s worth noting that IWC updated to the 52010 Calibre in 2015. And that is what you will find in the current Automatic 7-Day series. There’s no question it’s a better movement than its predecessor. But is it worth paying a premium for? I’m not sure I’m convinced. They’re both in-house, automatic movements. Both offer a 7-day power reserve. And, to the untrained eye, look all but identical through the sapphire display case back. The newer movement does use ceramic components in the winding system though. Specifically, those which come under the most stress and thus wear out the quickest. Which should in theory lead to less required servicing and repair. So that’s worth keeping in mind.
The current reference Portugieser Automatic 7-Day is the IW5007. In steel it retails for US$12,700. On the secondary market, you can pick up complete set for around US$10,000 – US$11,000. By contrast, the earlier Ref IW5001 will run you somewhere between US$7,000 – US$9,000 in steel. Depending on dial colour, condition, papers, etc.
Now, you’re never going to make money on this watch but that’s kind of the point. The secondary market has already priced in the discount on retail. Plus, if you’re savvy, this is the type of watch where you can negotiate an even better deal with the seller. But at the same time, it’s not like you’re buying a lemon. If you like the style, etc. then this is a watch you will enjoy for many years to come. And you can own it right now. No fictitious waiting list, or any of that silliness. Not to mention that warm sense of self-satisfaction knowing that you paid well below retail. It’s not to everybody’s tastes but it’s worth thinking about if you’re in the market for a versatile dress watch.
Check out the full range of IWC Portugieser watches available from WatchBox here.
Technical Specifications: IWC Portugieser Automatic 7-Day Ref IW5001
- Case: 42.3mm x 14.1mm – steel – polished and brushed finises – see-through sapphire glass back – waterproof to 30 metres / 100 feet.
- Dial: Available with black or silver-plated dial – central hours and minutes – small seconds on sub-dial at 9 o’clock – power reserve indicator on sub-dial at 3 o’clock – date via aperture at 6 o’clock.
- Movement: 51011 Calibre – IWC-manufactured movement – Pellaton automatic winding system – rotor with 18-carat gold medallion – 168 hour Power Reserve (7 Days) – 3 Hz – hacking seconds.
- Price: Discontinued/approx. US$7,000 – US$9,000 preowned.
This article by TheWatchLounge has been sponsored by our partner WatchBox.