IWC, Portofino and baseball are now strongly tied together by Lee Seung-yuop – a Korean baseball player. Serving 23 years as a major league player, Lee Seung-youp is a popular and legendary sport figure in Seoul. He had held an Asian home run record and a number of other achievements. In addition, Lee’s magnificent performance during 2008 Summer Olympics had also lead Korea to win Olympic gold. So, he is a person whose image sticks with high performance, precision and achievement – exactly the things IWC emphasizes.
‘S.Y. Lee’ Portofino features bright blue on the face, a color chosen by Lee. The sportsmen has also picked some other features to achieve a sensation of purity, clear and open mind – qualities he thinks are important and also qualities he shares with IWC. The back side of the watch has a signature of the athlete engraved.
This limited-edition model has 56 pieces available only at IWC boutiques in Seoul. Before IWC created limited-edition for athletes 3 times, and only once for a single market. It was 2012 Muhammad Ali edition for the US. The very fact that a global brand like IWC decided to launch a special edition for a much smaller market like Korea reflects brand’s popularity among customers and its strong market standing.
The number of pieces 56 has a symbolic meaning. This is the record set by S.Y. Lee with 56 homes. Two models from the series were sold at the action – No. 1 and No. 36 (this number Lee wore on his back as a player). No 1 was auctioned off for 13 000 000 Korean won (~10,150 Euro) and the final price for No 36 was 11 500 000 Korean won (8,900 Euro). Chronograph model from Portofino collection on average retail in Seoul at 7 500 000 Korean Won, so there was 40-50% premium for the auctioned timepieces. Money received from sales of two models were meant for the Baseball Fellowship Foundation that Lee had created and where he currently serves as a chair. An honorable cause indeed! Nice hat-trick from IWC team!