Most of us like to think that progress is linear. Experience, however, teaches us that, like crowds of people rushing through an airport, it is rather more like Brownian motion – the random movement of particles suspended in a fluid. In other words, things can go backwards or sideways just as easily as forwards.
This is particularly true in the world of watches, where the latest object of desire is just as likely to be the reiteration of an old classic (with a twist – naturally) as a technological leap forward.
Take IWC’s Portofino Hand-Wound Monopusher. This may be the first time that IWC luxury watch for sale has presented a single-button chronograph but, traditionally, single pushers were used on pocket watches to start, stop and reset. It performed these functions admirably, but was to be overtaken by its double-pusher parvenus thanks to a simple weakness – with only one button you couldn’t pause your timings.
Unlike its predecessors, however, when it comes to its chronograph function, the new Portofino Monopusher is the very model of discretion, with the pusher integrated into the crown with only the most modest of protrusions signalling its presence. Despite the discretion, this is no shrinking violet, with a case that measures a substantial 45mm – the size allows it to boast an eight-day power reserve.
A hand-wound movement is now also a rarity, thanks to the convenience of self-winding – ie, automatic – versions. However, the hand-wound movement does allow for a greater power reserve. And, personally, I find the very action of winding a watch rather soothing, which more than beats the stress of missing your train when you – very occasionally – forget to do so.