International Watch Company or IWC has called Schaffhausen home since its founding in 1868. If Schaffhausen sounds German to you it’s probably because it sort of is, the town sits in a chunk of Switzerland surrounded on three sides by Deutschland, and German is the official language of the municipality. Florentine Ariosto Jones, an American watchmaker, traveled to this relatively remote town in the Rhine Valley to establish a company utilizing Swiss expertise and American industrial prowess—in 1868 IWC was born to do just that. An industrialist family by the name of Rauschenbach took over the company in 1880 and steered IWC for the next four generations. Under the Rauschenbach’s leadership, IWC most famously, in 1939, created an oversized wristwatch at the request of their importers in Portugal; this would slowly be referred to as the Portuguese. One year later, in 1940, the Big Pilot was born, and shortly thereafter utilized by the German Luftwaffe in WWII. Don’t worry, IWC was also a part of “The Dirty Dozen,” manufacturing W.W.W watches for the British Army during the war as well.
After the war, in 1948, IWC’s first Mk 11 was produced. A now iconic military watch design, the Mk 11 was powered by IWC’s caliber 89. This movement became the backbone of the company, notably used in some of the most beautiful and well-made dress watches of the era, right up there with Patek or Vacheron in finishing. From these extremely strong roots, IWC continually reinvented itself to survive the many shocks to the watch industry such as, in 1969, contributing to the development of the Beta 21 movement as the Swiss response to quartz movements and teaming up with Porsche Design in the late 1970s and 80s.
Long past were the days of sole Rauschenbach family ownership when in 2000 IWC’s parent company was acquired by luxury goods giant, Richmont. Many of the offerings we see today in the catalog were introduced, in some form, shortly after this acquisition. A clear focus began in 2002 when the brand introduced the first Big Pilot’s Watch. From there, abundantly clear has been IWC’s mission to reinvent classic watches from their past in very modern applications.
IWC, having proven the calibre 89 time and time again as a robust and reliable movement, opted to not update the movement, and rather just to take the movement and case it in simple, time only watches that better fit the style of the time. That is the genesis of this particular watch. You can find versions of these watches in various cases with simple and decorative lugs and in both precious metals and stainless steel like this version. Unfortunately the original dial finishing that IWC applied to most of these watches has not stood the test of time and as a result most of these watches, including this one, have had their dials refinished but it does not detract from their beauty or overall feel.
The stainless steel case of this watch would have been considered oversized for the time but now wears very modern at 36mm. Condition is excellent with no major flaws to note but having seen a light polish at some point in its life. The highlights of the case are the Bombay-styled lugs and slim case height both of which add to the watch wearing very nicely on the wrist.
The Dial and Hands
The dial and hands of this watch are in very good condition. As noted earlier the dial, like many of these watches, has been refinished but the work was done well. The hands are thought to be original and match those seen on other examples of the time.
This watch is powered by manually wound IWC calibre 89. The watch was recently serviced by the owner and is running well.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, Calibre 89|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Perlon Strap|