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 Germany, 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. Interestingly, 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.
We usually steer away from redialed watches. Most of the time they are done with little care for design and quality. This watch took us a bit by surprise though. It is most likely a redial but it seems to be an older redial and one that was done by somebody with a vision to create something that IWC never produced. The grooved star style art deco dial seen on this watch is a big departure from what IWC was producing but creates a completely new aesthetic the fits the watch nicely. The caliber 853 IWC watches that were produced are generally seen with very simple Calatrava style dials. The dial appears to be of good quality and most interestingly to us the watch crown features a three-star motif most likely from a Benrus three star that we think complements the dial just perfectly. We love perfectly preserved watches, but the hot rod styling applied to this watch shows an alternate vision that somebody had for this watch. One that we think turned out very cool.
The 34mm solid 18k yellow gold case is in good condition. It shows signs of a previous polish and some light scratching. The caseback is in good condition and looks to be original while the crown is a non-original replacement that is likely from a Benrus 3 star. An apt choice given the star motif on the dial.
The Dial and Hands
As mentioned above this is likely a redial but one that was done a long time ago. The art deco star motif brings an interesting dimension to the watch that we appreciate. The hands are correctly styled for the era but are likely also non-original.
This watch features an IWC caliber 853 hand wound movement. The watch is running and the service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Manual, IWC Cal 853|
|Case Material||18k Yellow Gold|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|