IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde (Ref. IW504601 & IW504602)

The Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde combines the magic of a floating tourbillon with the logic of a date hand that reverts to its starting position and the power of a 7-day in-house calibre. In 2015, this exclusive timepiece is even more attractive to look at.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the Portugieser watch family, IWC has given the Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde (Ref. 5046) an additional touch of luxury.

The new arched-edge front glass makes the watch appear both slimmer and more elegant. The horns have also been ergonomically optimized to make the watch more comfortable to wear on a slimmer wrist. Another new feature is the exclusive alligator leather strap by Santoni: a fitting accessory for the Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde. The dial of the platinum version is silver plated while the red gold model is fitted with a slate coloured dial.

IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Retrograde (Ref. 5046)

The reverse side of the watch with its see-through sapphire glass back is also more attractive. The narrower and partly perforated solid red gold rotor with its “Probus Scafusia” relief engraving provides a generous view of the IWC-manufactured 51900 calibre.

IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Retrograde (Ref. 5046)

Moving clockwise round the dial of the Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde, we encounter three milestones in IWC’s illustrious history: at “12 o’clock” is the minute tourbillon first unveiled in 1993; next, at “3 o’clock”, the 7-day power reserve display of the in-house 50000-calibre family launched in 2000; and finally, between “6 o’clock” and “9 o’clock”, the retrograde date display created in 2010 exclusively for the Portugieser.

IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Retrograde Ref. IW504602

The tourbillon, which makes the “12” appear to come to life, gives the watch not only its name but also a touch of mystery. Set in a mirror-finished ring, it forms the visual centrepiece of the entire dial. The complication is mounted on one side only and therefore known as a “flying” tourbillon.  This creates the illusion that the balance is floating in midair against the deep black background but also allows us to see the “whirlwind”, as its name translates literally, at work.

Originally, the tourbillon was designed for use in pocket watches, where it offset the gravitational error inevitable in an oscillating system with a balance and spring, and the resulting deviation in rate. To achieve this, the balance, pallet and escape wheel are mounted in a tiny cage that rotates around its own axis once every minute. This filigree work of art consists of 82 parts and weighs 0.635 grams: a masterpiece of haute horlogerie, made in Schaffhausen.

The second eponymous complication, namely the retrograde date display, was clearly not intended to be hidden, as its uncompromising presence suggests: the semicircular arc from 1 to 31, which has a similar design to that of the railway track style chapter ring, takes up a full quarter of the dial.

This unusual type of display not only gives the wearer a very special feel for time: unlike a classic date disc, it has the additional advantage that the tourbillon is not concealed by the date disc. Not least of all, the moment at the end of each month when the large hand reverts instantaneously to its starting position is a remarkable event in itself. In months with fewer than 31 days or when the watch has not been worn for a while, the date display can be advanced rapidly using the crown until it jumps back to the 1st of the month. Doing this does not involve resetting the time.

On the right-hand side of the dial, the 7-day power reserve display indicates how much energy remains in the IWC manufactured 51900 calibre.

Technical details

Model: IWC Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde
Ref. IW504601 ∙ IW504602

IWC-manufactured calibre 51900
Mechanical movement
Pellaton automatic winding
Glucydur® beryllium alloy balance with high-precision adjustment cams on balance arms
Breguet spring Rotor made of 18-caratred gold
Jewels: 44
Power reserve: 7 days (168 h)
Weight of tourbillon: 0.635 g

Power reserve display
Retrograde date display
Flying minute tourbillon

Case, dial and strap

  • Ref. IW504601: Case in platinum, silver-plated dial, black alligator leather strap by Santoni, folding clasp in platinum
  • Ref. IW504602: Case in 18-carat red gold, slate-coloured dial, dark brown alligator leather strap by Santoni, folding clasp in 18-carat red gold

Glass: sapphire, arched edge, antireflective coating on both sides
Water-resistant: 3 bar
Diameter: 44.2 mm
Case height: 15.3 mm
See-through sapphire glass back

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.