On paper, watch design is an unlikely prospect for Jatin Malhan. The 15-year-old hails from the Jalandhar district of Punjab, India, where 70% of the population work in agriculture and earn about 20,000 rupees [AUD$360 AUD]. But Jatin is also a goalkeeper for the Youth Football Club Rurka Kalan (YFC), which has evolved into a community grassroots organisation that strives to empower underprivileged children and adolescents.
Last year, YFC took part in a drawing competition, organised by the Swiss watch brand, IWC, as part of its work as a global partner for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. Every year since 2006, IWC has invited young people to submit an artwork that reflects the foundation’s goals of promoting tolerance, fostering community spirit and supporting gender equality through sport and education. The winning artwork from the competition is immortalised by IWC into a commemorative caseback engraving of their annual limited-edition watch to support the foundation.
This year, Jatin’s drawing – of eight hands joining together in an expression of unity – won out, which means it’s now emblazoned on the new Portofino Chronograph 39 Edition “Laureus Sport for Good”.
IWC’s annual releases with the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation are invariably handsome watches distinguished not only by their engraved casebacks but by their rich blue dials. This year, IWC opted to give one of their elegant Portofino Chronographs the Laureus treatment. This model was scaled down in 2021 from 42mm to 39mm, with these more classic dimensions making it a little more elegant on the wrist. At the same time, however, the inclusion of the chronograph function means that this is a watch that will always retain a vaguely sporty demeanour while still passing muster in a formal setting.
As the third Portofino – and sixteenth IWC watch – that’s dedicated to Laureus Sport for Good, the watch does, of course, feature the typical Laureus blue dial that comes in a slightly desaturated tone that’s delivered here with a sunburst finish emanating a satin-like sheen. That backdrop is particularly eye-catching in this instance as it offers a beguiling contrast with the rhodium-plated hands and applied hands that are housed with a stainless-steel case.
Visually, the dial also provides a pleasing sense of symmetry with the vertical stacking of the sub-dials and the removal of the day/date complication that was present on the 42mm Portofino Chronograph. On the flipside, Jatin’s engraving on the caseback also happens to one of the most aesthetically bold and pleasing that IWC’s partnership with the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation has yielded in recent years. Goalkeepers usually strive to keep more clean sheets, but the decision to besmirch one with this drawing was an inspired move by the teenager.
There’s no doubting that IWC’s patronage of the Laureus Sport For Good Foundation is an admirable initiative. But what’s great about these annual releases is that they invariably stand up on their own merits as highly desirable pieces (last year’s was a particular cracker). The fact that they’re only available in a limited-edition run of 1,000 pieces only makes them more desirable with the caseback engravings adding a heart-warming touch.