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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Alas, the time has finally come, as I have procured enough funds to purchase my next watch. However, I am torn between two choices, namely the IWC Portuguese 7-Day and the Dornbluth Regulator. Both watches deeply satisfy my desire for silvered dials and heat-blued hands.


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Unfortunately, while I have seen the IWC several times, I have not had the pleasure of seeing a Dornbluth Regulator, or any Dornbluth for that matter. However, from my reading and for the most part, I think both the IWC and the Dornbluth have characteristics that place them on par with each other. In my opinion:

Movement: The IWC Cal. 51011 is likely the more technical of the two, given the Pellation winding system and 7-day power reserve, but the Dornbluth is also quite complex as it requires significant modifications of the Unitas base to display the regulator-type dial with center seconds and power reserve. Aesthetically speaking, I feel that both are terrific in their own way; the Portuguese with a more utilitarian look vs. the Dornbluth with a very German ¾ plate and various embellishments such as gold chantons, blue screws, hand-engraved balance cock and Geneva stripes. Although I have never seen the Dornbluth caliber in person, I do have a feeling that the regulator caliber would evoke a greater emotive response vs. the IWC caliber.

Case: I think both cases are finished to a high degree, with IWC setting the bar between the two. However, based on some Dornbluth owners comments, it would appear that Dornbluth can match IWC; perhaps this may be true if rumors that Fricker does indeed make the cases for Dornbluth. Again, as I’ve never held a Dornbluth I can’t verify this.

Dimensions: While the IWC Portuguese and Dornbluth regulator are similar in diameter with measurements of 42.3mm and 42mm, respectively, I think the IWC wears bigger given its very small bezel. For me, having wide wrists, I feel that this is a plus and really helps to focus the attention of the wearer/viewer on the dial. The question remains, how does the Dornbluth wear?

Dial: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I lust after both of them. Interestingly, IWC and Dornbluth take very different approaches in their dial aesthetics. The main difference, other than the layout, in my opinion is the use of applied Arabic numerals in the IWC vs. engraving (ie. flat) numerals in the Dornbluth. Another difference may be “in the glitter” of the silvered-dials but, again, I do not have a first-hand comparison.

Exclusivity: Hands down, I am sure that the Dornbluth is the more exclusive. I believe that the total number of Dornbluth Regulators is only in the 50-60s. That said, I have only met two people who own the IWC Portuguese in the many years that I have lusted for this model.

After sales service: No matter which watch I will choose, either one will be a life-long keeper. As such, maintenance servicing is quite important to me. I have read on several fora that IWC’s after sales service is… sub-par. However, as a JLC owner, I have found the service at Richemont to be adequate. On the Dornbluth side, I have heard amazing stories of being able to switch dials and complementary polishing with servicing from several members. The problem is, Dornbluth is a family run business, so what would happen if the unthinkable happened to Dirk Dornbluth?

So what say you? Which watch should I get and why? Also if there is anyone who owns both please comment and share side-by-side photos as this would greatly help my decision!
 

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I have two points to add to your already excellent analysis:

- Don't disregard the fact that 5001 is a very thick watch. I don't know about Dornbluth. How high the watch sits might have an impact on how comfortable the watch wears.

- Regulator is an interesting complication but can get a bit tiring to look at. I, for one, can't see the purpose of this complication.

I have to say your decision making process is very thorough. I think its the time you put all reasoning and logic aside, put both of them on your writs and pick the one which looks better. If I have to pick one, I will take 5001.

best of luck.

ali
 

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IWC because of the quality of the Samuel Pellaton winding system, 8 days of power reserve and it has the date too.
 

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Dornblueth = 42 mm x 11.5 mm
IWC = 42.3 mm x 13.9 mm (~+1.5 mm over the regulator)

I have two points to add to your already excellent analysis:

- Don't disregard the fact that 5001 is a very thick watch. I don't know about Dornbluth. How high the watch sits might have an impact on how comfortable the watch wears.

- Regulator is an interesting complication but can get a bit tiring to look at. I, for one, can't see the purpose of this complication.

I have to say your decision making process is very thorough. I think its the time you put all reasoning and logic aside, put both of them on your writs and pick the one which looks better. If I have to pick one, I will take 5001.

best of luck.

ali
 

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You have done a thorough job going through the pros and cons. It will honestly come down to which one makes you smile more. What you have not said, is what you already own to give the new purchase some context?

For what it is worth, I have always wanted a Portuguese, but every time I place one on my 7.25" wrist, it is too large for my taste. There is something about the size of the dial (in-situ) and the thickness of the case that just does not feel right on me (might be just fine on you). It is however regarded as an icon among mechanical watches. In regard to reading a regulator dial, you get use to it very quickly (or at least I did), Another thing you need to consider is that you may need to wait 7-8 months for Dirk to make your watch (ah patience...)

Bob
 

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Yes, it does...:)
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you for all the comments, and please keep them coming.


Regarding the thickness of the IWC, it IS a big boy but it fits (snuggly) under my shirt sleeve; thus, this point isn’t a deal breaker. As for comfort, for me the IWC is reasonably comfortable, although I have not worn it for an extended amount of time.
Because I have seen and worn the IWC, I think it represents a ‘safe bet’ with good connotations - I think that if I settled on the Portuguese I would be very happy with it. However, the Dornbluth is a wild card as it represents something different in terms of form and manufacture…again, unfortunately I can’t see it so I can’t confirm my thoughts on it.


All said, one day I will take the leap of faith with Dornbluth, but is today the day to jump?! I think I need more proof (or rather I'm begging to be convinced), so please if you’ve owned either or both of them, please comment!
 

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I thought Dornbluth manufactured in-house movements???
 

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Thank you for all the comments, and please keep them coming.


Regarding the thickness of the IWC, it IS a big boy but it fits (snuggly) under my shirt sleeve; thus, this point isn’t a deal breaker. As for comfort, for me the IWC is reasonably comfortable, although I have not worn it for an extended amount of time.
Because I have seen and worn the IWC, I think it represents a ‘safe bet’ with good connotations - I think that if I settled on the Portuguese I would be very happy with it. However, the Dornbluth is a wild card as it represents something different in terms of form and manufacture…again, unfortunately I can’t see it so I can’t confirm my thoughts on it.


All said, one day I will take the leap of faith with Dornbluth, but is today the day to jump?! I think I need more proof (or rather I'm begging to be convinced), so please if you’ve owned either or both of them, please comment!
I would not take a "leap of faith" on a ~$10K watch. If you are brave enough or rich enough to do it, you are lucky man!
 

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:roll: Apples v lemons.
No need to be so dismissive of the OP. This seems to be your go-to reply (or pears, carrots, etc.) when someone wants an opinion about watches. With eye rolling. The choice doesn't have to be between two nearly identical watches for it to be a valid choice. In fact I too would struggle to decide between these two. So in response to the OP I say it's hard to go wrong here. These are two splendid watches and no matter which one you choose you will still want the other. I wish I had this choice to make; please let us know which way you go and post pics! (If it's my money I probably end up with the 5001...by a hair.)
 

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That's my normal reply when comparing such two dissimilar watches and it will not change.
No need to be so dismissive of the OP. This seems to be your go-to reply (or pears, carrots, etc.) when someone wants an opinion about watches. With eye rolling. The choice doesn't have to be between two nearly identical watches for it to be a valid choice. In fact I too would struggle to decide between these two. So in response to the OP I say it's hard to go wrong here. These are two splendid watches and no matter which one you choose you will still want the other. I wish I had this choice to make; please let us know which way you go and post pics! (If it's my money I probably end up with the 5001...by a hair.)
 

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Just get what you want more hehe but I'll probably go with the other guys and get the 5001 bec of the brand and in-house mvt.:-!
 

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A few years back I found myself in the same position of choosing between these two watches. Ultimately I went with the D&S as I liked the idea of getting a watch made in a small shop which will produce significantly fewer watches each year than IWC. Don't get me wrong, I would still LOVE to get the 7-day PR (or a 2011 Portofino 8 day PR!) but I have had ZERO regrets with my choice.

I had many emails back and forth with Dirk during the process of creating my watch and while the only customization I did was having my initials discretely engraved, having those communications made for an even better buying experience. Plus, the communications back to me were with very little delay, which in my mind, shows the kind of service that he wants to provide. While I haven't had need to send it back (although I will likely do so pretty soon, just for routine maintenance), based on what I have read on many occasions, I expect that his customer service would still be of a high quality.

As for the watch itself, it really is amazing. The dial's engravings have a crispness to them so it is very readable and the silver grain results in a nice shimmer when in sunlight. The hands are perfectly suited to the watch with a nice deep blue from the heat treatment that is applied.

The case is also stunning, with its combination of brushed and polished parts and an embossed crown that is a perfect match. While it is a fairly large case, it sits very comfortably on my wrist (6 3/4"), not looking out of place as some large cases tend to be. I imagine that it would be a good fit for a larger wrist as well, possibly even a better fit.

Lastly, the movement truly is beautiful to look at and I often found (and still find) myself taking the watch off just to stare at it. Knowing that so many of the parts are made or modified in-house (I vaguely recall that it is around 70%) makes it seem more *custom* than it truly is.

Of course the finish work is what really draws the eye and the reaction from watch aficionados or from those who tell time solely via their mobile phone is the same...one of amazement. I don't think I need to go into all the details since they have either already been mentioned or can be found via a search. Just know that this is one of those movements that you can come back to over and over, lingering longer than you should!

To wrap up a far too lengthy post, I can say that my D&S Regulator truly is an amazing piece and while a person could NOT go wrong with anything from IWC (especially the Port 7PR), I can't imagine anyone being disappointed in buying from Dirk. Whether you buy 'as-is' or work with him on customizations, his watches (and this one in particular) will bring a smile for a long time! Definitely a :-!.

Jeff
 
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I faced a similar dilemma earlier this year when purchasing my 40th birthday present - choosing between an IWC and Dornbluth. I decided on the Dornbluth (99.3 #76).

Why? I liked the idea of having the only 99.3 in the country; a watch that is unique.

I am blown away with its beauty and am very happy with my choice; even after another trip back to the IWC store.

Good luck with your choice. I'm sure you will not be disappointed either way.
 

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You know, I thought the Dornbluth was preferable to the IWC, and ended up emailing Dornbluth.
I haven't heard a peep out of them and that was 4 weeks ago.
Not a good portent
 

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I think it must be summer vacations for them. Pretty much all companies close shop in summer in Europe (especially western/northern Europe). From what I've heard from other Dornblueth owners, Dirk is excellent at doing customized touches (if possible) for them and haven't heard anything bad about communication either.

You know, I thought the Dornbluth was preferable to the IWC, and ended up emailing Dornbluth.
I haven't heard a peep out of them and that was 4 weeks ago.
Not a good portent
 
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