It’s about time I shared you the latest addition to my small collection, the IWC Portuguese 5001-12 Laureus edition. However, this is not so much a watch review as it is about choosing between a limited edition and non-limited version of a watch.

IWC Portuguese Laureus limited edition box

Any hobby is better enjoyed with company, and watch collecting is no different. It allows us to exchange thoughts on new releases, compare watches in our own collections, and generally just have a good excuse to hang out whenever out paths cross. But having friends in such an expensive hobby can also be quite dangerous for your wallet, as you might find yourself lusting after watches you’ve never really considered before.

One such bad influence on me has been Nad Zakem, a well-known collector amongst the Paneristi and IWC online communities (see his feature on IWC’s “Experiences” series here). Nad first exerted his influence over me during my earliest years of joining the online watch community when he began posting photos of his Officine Panerai PAM 190 on the Hublot forum during a weekly “Wrist Shot Wednesday” thread. I didn’t quite get the whole Panerai craze at the time, yet Nad’s photos and enthusiasm for the brand compelled me to pick one up a few months later. The PAM 190 has become one of my all-time favorite watches in my humble collection; what you’d call a “keeper”.

The next watch that Nad attracted me to was the IWC Portuguese 5001-12, which he kindly let me try on during one of his many trips to Geneva.  Just like the PAM 190, I instantly became a believer. Its generous but well-proportioned case, its clean and balanced dial and of course its in-house 7-days automatic movement made it what I would consider the perfect understated smart-casual watch a niche I was looking to fill.

IWC Portuguese Laureus limited edition

So after much contemplation I decided to go for it, but the problem was, which one? Aside from the standard production models- and there are quite a few, I had witnessed a flurry of limited edition pieces in different case/dial combinations, making my decision that much more difficult. Some were certainly more appealing than others, but just when I was about to pull the trigger on one of the standard production models (steel with the silver dial and blued hands and markers, in case you’re wondering), a voice in the back of my head kept telling me that I might regret not going for a limited edition piece. One that particularly appealed to me was the Laureus edition from a couple of years back, with a gorgeous sunburst metallic blue dial and contrasting silver sub-dials.


IWC Portuguese Laureus case profile

In my earlier years, I would have said that any limited edition model is worth taking over a standard production equivalent. But seeing as how the very notion of what a limited edition is has been diluted by brands almost abusing the term, my perspective has changed. The Laureus edition was “limited” to 1000 pieces, which in retrospect is far greater than the annual production volume of many independent brands and watchmakers. So in the end, how would you define a limited edition? Is it 10 pieces? 50 pieces? 100 pieces? 1000 pieces?

It’s really of little consequence in the end. Sure, there’s a certain satisfaction in knowing that only X number of said watch will be produced and that you’ll be less likely to bump into one “in the wild”. There’s also the likeliness that your watch will retain its value better than a standard production piece; though this is never a given.

Now back to the watch. The reason I hesitated so long between the standard silver dial 5001 and the Laureus edition was the solid case back on the latter, which bears a laser-engraving of a “Team Spirit” themed sketch from the winning Laureus Sport for Good Foundation international children’s drawing competition. And while I appreciate what it represents for IWC and the Laureus foundation, they could’ve easily put this on the round insert on the rotor like they’ve done with the “Le Petit Prince” pieces and other more recent limited editions. I get the impression that such limited editions are made solely for existing IWC and 5001 owners, which may very well be the brand’s intention. As a first-time owner however, I didn’t see this feature as a plus.

IWC Portuguese Laureus engraved case back

But as much as I would like to be able to see the 51011 caliber and its pellaton automatic winding system in action, the beauty of the dial far outweighs the solid caseback, so that was a compromise I was willing to make. I finally decided to pull the trigger just before Xmas last year and i’m happy to say that I have no second thoughts. I mean, just look at that dial.

IWC Portuguese Laureus limited edition

IWC Portuguese Laureus blue dial

IWC Portuguese Laureus power reserve

So I guess the moral of the story here would be the cliché adage of “buy what you like”. Whether it was a limited edition or not, I still would have gone for the blue Laureus edition Portuguese simply because I like the dial better.

More information on