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REVIEW: the IWC 5001 Portuguese Automatic>>>>>>>

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Published on 02-06-2010 10:52 AM

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Review of the IWC 5001 Portuguese Automatic
By: John B. Holbrook, II


IWC is a manufacture who is well known among watch aficionados for its stalwart dedication to engineering, precision, and timeless elegance. IWC is also one of the few Swiss watch houses that was actually founded by an American. An engineer from Boston, Massachusetts, named Florentine Ariosto Jones established the “International Watch Co.” in Schaffhausen in 1868. IWC remains the only watch factory in East Switzerland to this day. IWC has a foundation rooted in pocket watches, later developing wristwatches for aviators. Today IWC employs 390 people, and is owned by the watch division of Richemont SA. In the years that have followed since 1868, IWC has created some legendary timepieces, such as the Davinci, the Portofino, and of course, the line from which comes the subject of this technical profile, the Portuguese.

The first thing that struck me about the IWC 5001 Portuguese is its size and legibility. The case diameter is 42.3mm, and the dial extends to nearly the same diameter. That, combined with the nice contrast of the blued Arabic numerals and swallow-style hands against the silvery white dial, provides excellent visibility. Clearly this watch was designed with the at-a-glance needs of an air-craft pilot in mind. In the 9 o’clock position, the watch has a second hand sub dial, with power reserve indicator in the 3 o’clock position, and a date display at 6 o’clock. A railway-style minute chapter ring encircles the outermost portion of the dial, and the dial itself is protected by a scratch resistant sapphire crystal.

The Portuguese 5001 case is stainless steel, with an attractive mix of both brushed and polished finishes applied. The clean lines of the case and lugs are broken only by the simple, yet ample-sized crown, signed by IWC. Adorning the watch is a gorgeous and supple crocodile strap in a deep blue hue. Connecting the strap is a well constructed single fold clasp, also signed by IWC. The 5001 case is rated for 30 meters of water resistance. The watch sits fairly high on the wrist, given the case’s height of 13.9mm. However, I found wearing the watch to be quite comfortable. The watch dresses up or down quite easily, but the dial color particularly complements a white dress shirt. Viewing the back of the watch case we see that IWC has treated us to a marvelous view of the 5001’s well decorated movement via a sapphire display back.


When viewing the 5001’s Caliber 50010 (manufactured entirely by IWC), one will immediately note the impressive rotor with gold medallion which powers the movement, which is called the Pellaton system. The Pellaton winding system is IWC’s exclusive and unique execution of an automatic winding system. It was developed in the early 1950s by Albert Pellaton (former IWC Technical Director). It differs fundamentally from traditional automatic winding systems (which transmit movement from the rotor via a wheel train to a gear system) with its use of a rocking bar, synthetic jeweled rollers on either side of a heart-shaped cam, and pawl system. While the Pellaton design sounds rather complex, the execution of the design is actually ingenious for its simplicity. The winding system has also been praised for its inherent shock resistance, as well as its ease of maintenance and durability. The Caliber 50010 runs at a leisurely 18,000 beats per hour — much like a pocket watch movement on which the 50010 is no doubt based. One of the advantages of using a pocket watch-sized movement is having room for a large winding spring, which gives the 50010 an impressive power reserve. While the spring no doubt is capable of providing a longer running time, it is interesting to note that the movement automatically stops after 168 hours (7 days) to eliminate the danger of isochronism error by having the spring fully unwind. The 44 jewel Caliber 50010 is also equipped with other components only found on the finest watch movements in the world, such as a Breguet overcoil, and a Nivarox 1 chronometer quality balance spring. Clearly great care has been taken to decorate the movement to an aesthet-ic level which matches the engineering prowess of the Caliber 50010.


Appropriately enough, the IWC 5001 Portuguese Automatic draws upon IWC’s most significant historical influences — pocket watches and aviator watches. Both influences are blended to create a magnificent timepiece which is versatile, functional, and horologically fascinating all at the same time. Schaffhausen has much to be proud about in the 5001, and the model is a worthy addition to the Portuguese line which dates back to the 1930s. The retail price of the IWC 5001 Portuguese is $10,900.00.

**Photos & Text Copyright 2010 WATCH TALK FORUMS. No part of this report can be reproduced outside of WATCH TALK FORUMS without the expressed permission of John B. Holbrook, II.

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REVIEW: the IWC 5001 Portuguese Automatic>>>>>>>
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