It is not very often we get to offer a true historical immortal of the watch industry; with one such example being the IWC Portugieser. Collectors widely regard this as one of the most revered and distinguished wristwatches of the 20th and 21st century and it’s hard not to see why.
Before we discuss more about the Ref. 5441 that we have on offer here today, I think it is important to provide some context as to why the Portugieser is such an iconic and important model to IWC because the history behind this reference is precisely what makes this model so collectible and sought after by enthusiasts and connoisseurs alike.
In 1939, IWC received a request from its Portuguese wholesalers – Messrs. Rodriguez & Antonio Texeira, who asked IWC to make them a wristwatch that was sturdy, accurate, and larger in size (contrary to the smaller wristwatches that were in vogue at the time) and powered by a pocket watch movement. Little did they know, their order would eventually become one of the Maison’s most celebrated models of all time in the many decades that followed. IWC accepted the challenge and built a watch with a larger 42mm steel case, which was also then used to house one of the thinnest and most reliable pocket watch movements in production at that time - the Cal. 74. This led to the creation of the Portugieser, which eventually took on an identity as an icon in the world of watchmaking thanks to its unmistakable and timeless design featuring a large dial, simple and sober Arabic numerals, a small-seconds at 6 o ‘clock, a railway track chapter ring and a perfectly balanced looking dial.
Fast forward to 1993, when IWC was preparing for its 125th Anniversary Jubilee, the Maison decided to bring back one of their most celebrated but most infrequently produced models in their history in the form of the Ref. 5441. The Ref. 5441 was solely created in 1993 for the 125th Anniversary Jubilee with a breakdown of 1,000 pieces in stainless steel, 500 in pink gold, and 250 in platinum. To IWC collectors, this is as good as it gets. For the decades that followed, the Ref. 5441 became known as one of the most sought-after IWC references not because of the limited production numbers, but because collectors who managed to get their hands on one generally never let them go, and I can definitely see why that is the case here.
The Ref. 5441 is a beautiful timepiece. Fundamentally, it is a spitting image of the original and faithful to a fault – 42mm in diameter and 10.4mm in thickness, warm pink gold feuille hands and Arabic numerals, a small-seconds indicator at 6 o ‘clock, and powered by a 19-jeweled, manual-wound pocket watch movement that is now known as the Cal. 9828. It features rhodium plating, with Côtes de Geneve embellishment, a shock absorber device, a monometallic balance with compensation screws on the arms, a swan neck regulator, and a self-compensating Breguet balance spring oscillating away at 18,000 vph within the balance wheel. The Cal. 9828 also features an impressive 54-hour power reserve and is finished excellently.
The Ref. 5441 is a watch with a tremendous history behind its existence and we are absolutely delighted to be able to offer an example of this important reference in such great condition. If you are a collector of IWC watches, important historical references, or mid-century classical dress watches, this Ref. 5441 is a watch you simply would not wish to miss out on.