Dispatch from Lisbon: Hodinkee Goes to Sea With IWC

With Portugal’s history of world exploration and maritime prowess, as well as the history of IWC’s best selling Portuguese line of watches, it made perfect sense to have a nautical themed event around the launch of the new Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph. Today was the centerpiece of the launch activities, a day of sailing in the Atlantic and an evening cocktail gala, complete with Portuguese fado music, requisite speeches and product presentations.

This morning after a breakfast that included the ubiquitous Portuguese ham, we were shuttled to the marina in the nearby port town of Cascais. There we boarded a former Volvo Ocean Race yacht for six hours of tacking, jibing, coming to and coming about. An expert crew of French sailors, including four-time round-the-world sailor and Rolex Fastnet Race winner, Sebastien Josse, taught us the basics of nautical navigation – the use of a sextant in celestial navigation, dead reckoning and coastal navigation. All skippers were sporting the new Portuguese Yacht Club Chrono, which, to this reporter, looks even better in the steel (and gold) than it does in the publicity photos.

Speaking of watches (this is a watch blog after all), do you know how your wristwatch can be used as a compass? If you find yourself lost in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s quite simple. Hold your watch horizontally, so that the hour hand points in the direction of the sun. The imaginary line that bisects the arc from the hour hand to the 12 o’clock position is due south. Easy huh? Yet another reason to avoid digital watches.

Slightly sunburnt and with wobbly sea legs, we donned suits and cocktail dresses and were shuttled to a converted warehouse space by the Lisbon docks for an elegant evening of food, music, wine and watches. After preliminary libations and a product movie, Maxime Ferté of IWC opened the evening by welcoming us to the “Tribute to Portugal” and was followed by other IWC dignitaries and Portuguese football legend Luis Figo with brief remarks before a fado quartet serenaded the crowd, who were eating canapés and ogling the Portuguese collection, which was displayed around the room.

By evening’s close, with my navigational skills fresh in mind, I safely charted a course back to my hotel room for a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s tour of Lisbon (and probably some more ham). For now, “boa noite."