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IWC or International Watch Company is a Swiss luxury watch brand that boasts rare expertise in both robust military watches and classic dress timepieces. Founded in 1868 by Boston-born Florentine Ariosto Jones, the vision for IWC was to combine Swiss traditional watchmaking with American technology.
That theme is carried through the company’s broad range of watches today, which include robust watches fit for use in aviation and the military, everyday watches with sophisticated designs, and complex haute horlogerie pieces. IWC has become the choice brand of collectors who value expert engineering, timeless appeal, and meticulous attention to detail.
The vast variety of functions within the brand only means there is an IWC watch for every taste and occasion, whether its robust watches for professional or everyday use, or ultra-luxurious watches with the complexities of haute horlogerie. Explore our wide selection of IWC watches at SwissWatchExpo.com.
International Watch Co. or IWC traces its roots to 1868, when American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones travelled to Switzerland to make watch parts for the American market. His desire was to fuse the artistry of traditional Swiss watchmaking with new world production techniques.
With the help of watchmaker Johann Heinrich Moser, and drawing from the expertise of eminently skilled Swiss artisans, he manufactured high-quality pocket watch movements.
When Jones moved back to the United States, the company was handed over to the Rauschenbachs, an industrialist family from Schaffhausen. In its early years, IWC produced pocket watches with a digital “Pallweber” display, alongside wristwatches for women and men.
Following the death of Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk, Schaffhausen business magnate Ernst Jakob Homberger took over IWC. Under his leadership, two watch families were born, which are icons to this day. The first model called “Spezialuhr für Flieger” or “special clock for aviators”, established the tradition of producing Pilot’s Watches in Schaffhausen. Then, Portuguese importers commissioned large wristwatches with high-precision pocket watch movements – making these the first Portugieser watches made by IWC.
After the war, as the use of technology increased, more and more appliances created magnetic fields that affected the accuracy of timepieces. Albert Pellaton, then IWC’s Technical Director, invented a few mechanisms to address this problem. These include the 89 Calibre, a soft-iron inner case which protects the movement from magnetism; and the efficient pawl-winding system which eventually became famous as the Pellaton winding system.
In 1940, the Big Pilot watch was introduced in response to the demand for larger aviation watches. Then, towards the end of this decade, IWC launched the Pilot Mark XI, which was equipped with the brand’s now renowned anti-magnetic field.
In the 1950s, as Hans Ernst Homberger took over at IWC, three more emblematic watches were launched. First was the Ingenieur, which became known for its distinctive round design and advanced winding system. A few years later, IWC launched the Aquatimer, whose 200-meter water resistance paved the way for more diver’s watches from the brand. The company also played a key role in developing the first Swiss-made quartz movement, the “Beta 21”. This was debuted in the DaVinci line of watches.
During the quartz crisis, IWC’s head watchmaker Kurt Klaus, pushed the bold idea of making a mechanical perpetual calendar. This gave birth to the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar in the 1980s, which not only set the precedent for IWC’s entry to haute horlogerie, but also to the creation of the world’s first wristwatch made of fade- and scratch-proof ceramic.
In the 1990s, IWC marked their 125th anniversary with the creation of the Destriero Scafusia or “Warhorse of Schaffhausen”. The one-off limited edition of 125 pieces features a perpetual calendar, split seconds chronograph, minute repeater and tourbillon. In the same year, IWC launched a limited series of their famed Portugieser watch, thereby reviving the large-caliber wristwatches.
IWC became part of Richemont group in 2000, where the company continuously expanded their six watch families, with particular focus on precision engineering and exclusive design.
From robust tool watches like the IWC Pilot, Aquatimer, and Ingenieur, to the refined models such as the Portugieser, Portofino, and Da Vinci – IWC watches enjoy a cult-like status among the most discerning of watch collectors.
While the focus on aviation timepieces remains central to IWC today, their current catalog includes dress watches, dive watches, and grand complications. IWC’s collections span a range of styles far wider than that of many luxury watch companies, all while keeping the quality of each watch exceptional. Here are the families of watches under IWC’s current product line:
The IWC Pilot’s Watch celebrates the long-lasting relationship between IWC and the world of aviation. The company has been making pilot’s watches since the 1930s, all tailored to meet the functional requirements of aviation and the specific needs of pilots. IWC Pilot’s watches have earned fans beyond the industry, and are sought after by watch fans today for their extreme robustness and high versatility. The sub-collections within the IWC Pilot’s family are as follows:
The IWC Portuguese is a line of classically designed round watches featuring state-of-the-art technology. IWC first created the watch for a group of Portuguese businessmen who sought large-cased watches with high-precision movements. Today’s Portuguese collection ranges from automatic three-handed watches and dressy chronographs, to highly complicated perpetual calendars and minute repeaters.
The IWC Ingenieur is a collection of sporty-elegant timepieces. When it debuted in 1955, it was a groundbreaking design that featured a soft-iron case, which protected the movement against magnetic fields. In 1976, IWC commissioned renowned designer Gerald Genta to breathe new life into the Ingenieur’s design, resulting in the “Jumbo” design – a robust tool watch with amagnetic shielding.
Today’s Ingenieur watches come in more understated round cases, and feature three-hand, chronograph, and perpetual calendar models.
The IWC Portofino is a minimalist and sophisticated line of dress watches. Round cases made of polished gold or stainless steel emphasize its refined design, which pairs nicely with formal and evening wear. This collection comes in styles for men and women, with the latter having the option of diamond dials and bezels.
The IWC Da Vinci was introduced in 1969, and was launched together with the first Swiss-made quartz caliber, the Beta 21. First created in a hexagonal shape, the Da Vinci was redesigned into an elegant round watch in the 1980s, with distinctive hinged lugs. The Da Vinci has been IWC’s playing field for numerous innovations and milestones, including the integrated perpetual calendar module and the world’s first wristwatch made in black ceramic.
Today’s Da Vinci collection offers a series of more complicated models including perpetual calendars, flyback chronographs, and tourbillons.
IWC uses serial numbers to document their sale and manufacture. Each watch has a unique serial number that can assist in knowing your watch’s production date and in authenticating the timepiece.
The IWC serial number can be found either on the case, the case back, or the movement. Below are the published serial numbers for IWC watches and their year of production.
|YEAR OF PRODUCTION||SERIAL NUMBER SEQUENCE|
|1880 – 1886||0 – 10,000|
|1886 – 1890||10,001 – 50,000|
|1890 – 1899||100,000 – 200,000|
|1899 – 1903||200,001 – 300,000|
|1903 – 1907||300,001 – 400,000|
|1907 – 1913||400,001 – 600,000|
|1910 – 1915||463,601 – 620,800|
|1914 – 1924||600,001 – 800,000|
|1924 – 1929||800,001 – 900,000|
|1935 – 1940||940,001 – 1,013,200|
|1945 – 1950||1,092,401 – 1,200400|
|1950 – 1955||1,200401 – 1,335400|
|1960 – 1965||1,513,001 – 1,778,800|
|1970 – 1975||1,970,201 – 2,275,000|
IWC has stood for innovation and excellence in watchmaking. Their vast range of styles are sought after by collectors who seek iconic designs and sophisticated engineering. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about IWC.
IWC watches are made with the most exquisite materials, so a counterfeit will always appear lesser in build quality. Closely examine the build of the watch, the detail on the dial, and the most minute details such as numbers and fonts. If you see any sign of imperfection on your IWC timepiece, it is likely a fake.
We always advise clients to do research beforehand so you can check if the details on your watch are in tune with the model’s supposed features.
The best way to avoid fakes, and to guarantee the authenticity of an IWC watch, is to purchase only from a reputable retailer who can provide proof of authenticity.
IWC watches hold their value well, and there are two major factors behind this. The first is that their watches are made with exceptional craftsmanship, so they are unlikely to wear easily or need a significant amount of repair. The other is that IWC only has an annual production of 70,000 watches – a small number compared to other Swiss luxury watchmakers. This ensures that the demand for their watches will almost always outpace the supply. Putting more emphasis on high-quality watchmaking than on high quantities secures the value of IWC watches.
The intervals between each service vary depending on how the watch is used and the conditions under which it operates. IWC generally recommends a complete service every five years to maintain its performance and accurate timekeeping. A full service includes rigorous testing of the timekeeping accuracy and waterproofing. However, there can be signs that your watch needs maintenance sooner rather than later. Read on for Signs It’s Time for Watch Maintenance.
As robust as your watch may be, it is composed of hundreds of tiny mechanical parts that need routine maintenance to keep its performance and value. At SwissWatchExpo, we stand ready to provide care for your treasured timepiece. Our state-of-the-art service center offers a full range of services, from basic maintenance to major repairs and restorations – all performed by expert watchmakers. Here’s more information about our comprehensive Repair Services.
The service cost will depend on the model and material of your IWC watch and its current condition. We provide repair and maintenance estimates free of charge. When you send us your timepiece, it will first be inspected by our master watchmakers, who will draw up a detailed cost estimate based on your request, and the current condition of your watch. Only after you approve the cost will we begin with the repair process.
Established in 1868, IWC is a brand steeped in history. The broad range of the company’s watch expertise – from aviation and military watches like the Pilot, to haute horlogerie pieces like the Da Vinci – have determined IWC’s heritage and contributed to its global success. The most seasoned collectors seek out IWC models from the past not only for their place in horological history, but because they can keep time even decades after.
Today, IWC continues to find ways of pushing the technological development for their watches. Aside from creating modern iterations of their old icons, they also introduce new production techniques to achieve new standards in complexity, and improve their watches’ accuracy and resistance to wear.
If you’re on the hunt for vintage and historic IWC watches, then the pre-owned market is the best place to source them, as authorized retailers exclusively carry current models. The secondary market opens you up to a vast range of styles to choose from – from current productions, to rare and vintage references, limited and special editions, and discontinued models.
Buying pre-owned also lets you enjoy significant discounts. Watches are very similar to other mechanical products such as cars, in the sense that as soon as they leave the showroom, they lose a good chunk of their value. Buying pre-owned means you avoid taking the hit of the initial depreciation, and are left paying its true market value. Some rare vintage watches do appreciate over the years, but in general, a pre-owned watch will cost less than a brand-new timepiece.
Buying pre-owned doesn’t always mean buying old or discontinued models. If it’s a current style that you want, or would like your watch to be as new as possible, you can also find mint and excellent condition models in the pre-owned watch market. Some are even kept unworn and are sold in their original packaging.
At SwissWatchExpo, we are committed to deliver our watches in “like new” condition, whether they are vintage styles or current production pieces. Each watch is inspected and restored by our master watchmakers and will not leave our workshop until it runs and looks like new.
Our guiding principle is that buying pre-owned lets our clients enjoy the maximum value possible. If you’re in the market for an IWC timepiece, our experts are ready to help find the right watch for you.