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.
Throughout the 1950s and 1960s IWC made a lot of time only and time and date watches. These watches came in both stainless steel and in solid gold with a wide variety of dial configurations and in their Ingenieur line with anti-magnetic properties. During this time the calibre 85X series of movements were IWC’s engine of choice. The 852, 853, and 854 movements trace their history to the calibre 85, which is a defining movement in the history of IWC. The movement was designed by IWC’s then Technical Director Albert Pellaton, and the winding system he developed for the movement still bears his name to this day. If you are looking for a special occasion gold dress watch from a world renowned brand at a reasonable price then you just hit the jackpot.
The 34mm 18k yellow gold case is in very good condition. The edges of the case are extremely sharp and show no signs of overpolishing. Like most of the 85X watches from IWC the case design is rather austere yet elegant and this watch is no exception. The acrylic crystal is in very nice condition with no major flaws to note.
The Dial and Hands
The dial, while featuring a beautiful design is the downfall of this watch. There are two hand shadows that are most likely the result of prolonged exposure to the sun without the watch running. Outside of this fault the dial is quite nice and the applied hour markers and numerals present nicely. The hands appear to be correct and are thought to be original.
This watch features an IWC Cal. 8531 automatic movement. The watch is winding smoothly and running. The service history is unknown.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Automatic, IWC Cal. 8531|
|Case Material||18k Yellow Gold|
|Band Material||Leather Strap|
|Clasp Type||18k Yellow Gold Buckle|