By Isaac Wingold
This year at the annual Watches & Wonders show, IWC has done something quite unexpected. Schaffhausen’s own has unveiled what is, unofficially, its very first women’s collection – an intriguing and bold move from the dive and pilot watch dominated brand. Referred to as the Portofino “Midsize”, IWC hopes to broaden its market to those who prefer smaller sizes or more delicate and jewel-adorned designs. With a large number of models within the collection, there will surely be a piece to tickle the fancy of the most discerning of women.
IWC’s Portofino collection has already been wildly successful for the brand. It has long represented an expression of subtle and pure taste, and actually has been popular with both men and women. Through this new collection, the brand will appeal considerably more to women, through the feminine details such as diamond-set bezels, and mother of pearls dials to be offered.
Within the collection, there will be three new 37mm models offered in seventeen different versions. A variant with a moonphase complication will be available, in addition to the standard automatic version, and the stunning Day & Night – a version for the jet setting that incorporates a second time zone complication. All of these will be available in a variety of materials, including white gold, red gold, and stainless steel, with the option of a diamond-set bezel. Santoni, the revered Italian shoemaker, will be providing ultra high quality alligator straps for each piece.
Its most likely that this introduction is a response to the current market trends, and increasing popularity of women’s watches, but this introduction is also reminiscent of pieces throughout the brand’s history. At the initial introduction of the Portofino collection back in 1984, IWC offered both the standard offering, and a smaller option, coming in at 34mm. As those who collect vintage IWC pieces know, the jeweled variants of several models have always been quite rare, thus increasing the demand for similar pieces.
IWC has for the most part been a brand dominated by rugged, men’s sports watches. The introduction of its first unofficial women’s collection truly represents a sea change for the brand’s way of thinking, and as we’re fast approaching 2015, it’s arguably about time. Hopefully more brands will follow in their footsteps, and introduce women’s collections that are as strong as the Portofino Midsize collection. Well done IWC!