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A Closer Look at The IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Edition 'Orlebar Brown'

IWC Portugieser

Summer 2020 might be a very different proposition to the summers we’re used to, but there’s some good news on the horizon… something most of are all too in need of. Kicking off the summer season in style is IWC’s latest release, a marine-blue-dialed timepiece created in partnership with British “resort swimwear” brand Orlebar Brown. Dubbed as ‘resort wear for the wrist’, the IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Edition 'Orlebar Brown' combines the classical elegance and superb functionality we’ve come to expect of IWC with the attention to detail and playful sense of fun Orlebar Brown brings to the mix. Ready to find out more? Here are ten little facts to get you going.

1. The Brand

If you want to understand a watch, you have to understand its maker. And IWC is one heck of a maker. A luxury Swiss watch manufacturer located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, IWC (or IWC International Watch Co. AG, to give them their full title), has been around since 1868. In that time, it’s grown into one of the country’s most coveted brands (which, considering we’re talking about the same country that gave us Rolex and Patek Philippe, is saying a lot). Renowned for its use of pioneering technology and its commitment to maintaining the highest environmental and sustainability standards, each new piece it releases is met with anticipation and open wallets… something that is very much proving to be the case with the Portugieser Yacht.

2. The Partner

Why stick with one great brand when you could have two for the same price? With the Portugieser Yacht, IWC has decided to call on the talents of Orlebar Brown, a British based purveyor of luxury men’s swimwear, shirts, and one-of-a-kind designs. Self- proclaimed ‘pioneers of poolside style’, the brand was founded in 2007 by Adam Brown. Brown’s inspiration for the brand came after he spotted a distinct lack of style in the male attendants of a poolside birthday party – and a prominence of, as Forbes notes, ‘briefs, board shorts, and shapeless boxer- style shorts’. After deciding there had to be more to leisurewear than that, he set about creating the first pair of Orlebar Brown swim shorts. Since then, the brand has become the ‘go-to’ for men looking for sharp, stylish resort wear that somehow manages to marry surf culture with classic tailoring.

3. The Collaboration

IWC and Orlebar Brown might make very different products, but the values that underpin both brands are remarkably similar… with just enough of a difference to keep things interesting. And that’s what makes this new collaboration between the pair so interesting, not only to us, but to the brands themselves “IWC and Orlebar Brown are united by their passion for craftsmanship, innovation and quality,” IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr says of the collaboration. “Orlebar Brown has reinvented elegant leisurewear and has proven that men can look good in casual outfits. The company continues to set standards when it comes to comfort, quality and functionality.”

4. The History

The IWC Portugieser Yacht might be all-new for summer 2020, but it’s got history for miles. The Yacht Club collection (of which it’s part) may have made its debut as recently as 2010, but its lineage can be traced all the way back to 1967. That was the year IWC released Ref. 811, a robust, three-hand and date piece that appealed to those that, as notes, were looking for a sportier alternative to the Ingenieur. Fast forward to the quartz crisis of the late 1970s, and designer Gerald Genta revisited the idea, replacing the original bezel with an octagonal alternative and releasing a thousand highly covetable (and now highly collectible) mechanical pieces. Today, we see many of the same ideas represented in the IWC Portugieser Yacht… even if they have been giving a very contemporary makeover.

5. The Size

As writes, the size of the Yacht Club has fluctuated widely over the past decade, veering from a hefty 45.4mm in 2010 to a much more modest 43.5mm in recent years. With the Portugieser Yacht, IWC seems to have hit on the perfect balance, coming in as it does with a diameter of 44.6mm and a height of 14.4mm.

6. The Style

There are two things you expect of an IWC watch: masterful functionality and superb aesthetics. The Portugieser Yacht doesn’t disappoint on either score. Powered by IWC’s self-winding Caliber 89361, possessing a stonking 68-hours of power reserve, and coming with water-resistance of 6 bar, there’s no doubting its capability. Thanks to its sleek 44mm stainless steel case, magnificent sapphire exhibition case-back, and harmonious, balanced elegance, there’s little doubting its beauty, either.

7. The Price

If you’re yearning to add the IWC Portugieser Yacht to your collection as soon as possible, then you’re in luck. The piece is already available in IWC boutiques and from authorized retailers… although make sure you have plenty in your wallet before hitting the shops. At $12,100, this is no pocket-money buy.

8. The Spec

If you’re going to put down $12,100 on a watch, you’re going to want to know that watch is going to last the distance. Fortunately, that’s exactly what the IWC Portugieser Yacht is built to do - as a quick look at its impressive spec very much attests. Keen to find out more? Then here it is: Case: 44.6mmm diameter x 14.4mm height. Stainless steel or two-tone steel and rose gold. Sapphire crystal front and back with anti-reflective coating both sides. Dial : silver-plated or blue. Applied Arabic numerals. 30-min and 12-hour elapsed times in sub-dial at 12 o'clock. Small seconds with date in sub-dial at 6 o'clock. Leaf-shaped hands and hour markers with lume. Movement: IWC in-house calibre 83691.

9. The Editions

If variety is what you want, variety is what you get with the IWC Portugieser Yacht. The piece is available in three distinct versions: a two-tone steel and 18k rose gold model (Ref. IW390703) and two steel models (Ref. IW390701 and IW390702).

10. The Corresponding Capsule

Got the watch? Then you’re going to need the clothes to match. If you love what IWC and Orlebar Brown have managed to do with the Portugieser, you’re likely to love the corresponding capsule collection from Orlebar Brown just as much. As Robb Report notes, the capsule, like the watch itself, embodies sophistication and classic elegance, with a firm focus on razor-sharp tailoring and flawlessly precise detailing.

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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