IWC – Comprehending three illustrious letters
The first time you see these three letters, which stand for the International Watch Company, they might appear restrained and unspecific. Yet, what they represent is a laid back certainty that IWC knows exactly where it comes from and what type of position it has achieved for itself over the years in the world of watches. It’s the kind of confidence a brand can only emanate that’s produced one top-shelf icon after another. The Portugieser has achieved the kind of fame other brands can only dream of as it was one of the very first, larger sized dress watches altogether. The divers’ watch Aquatimer fought tooth and nail against Omega and Rolex while chasing the world’s lowest ocean depth records. The Ingenieur forms, alongside the Patek Philippe Nautilus and the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak, the third cult timepiece designed by the famous watch designer Gerald Genta. However, what IWC is really known for is its legendary Big Pilot in its Mark series and its legacy is mirrored in both the variety and diversity of its compilation of timepieces.
The history of IWC can be fairly quickly summarized. In his quest to combine both American pioneer spirit and Swiss tradition, Florentine Ariostos’s path lead him all the way from Boston to Schaffhausen, with only the ambition of inventing a series of accurate pocket watches. Times have certainly changed since then, but a large part of IWC’s initial drive and enthusiasm carries on well in today. One might believe IWC watches are modest timepieces, due to the reserved brand acronym. However, it definitely isn’t true considering IWC made the most complicated (at the time) produced watch series in the entire world. Today, it places a large emphasis on elaborate chronographs and hand wound watches with a significant amount of power reserve. It’s not trying to be imposing, even when the brand concentrates its efforts on watch dimensions starting around the 42 mm mark. It’s a brand that ensures a smooth transition for the icons of its past to assume their rightful place in the present day.
IWC – The Collection
The Portugieser is a real dress watch icon and best represents high quality dress appropriate timepieces in the 40+ size range. Many Portugieser models come equipped with an in-house movement and some newer versions have a power reserve of up to 8 days.
DISCOVER PORTUGIESER WATCHES
The Aquatimer diving watch mesmerizes with a fresh and unmistakable design that makes it really stand out from all of its contemporaries. Particularly, the raised outer ring and ergonomic shape are the Aquatimer’s defining features. It comes equipped with either a manufacture movement or an ETA based calibre.
DISCOVER AQUATIMER WATCHES
Next to the Aquatimer, the Ingenieur forms the second pillar of IWC’s sporty watch workmanship, that doesn’t belong to the pilots’ genre of timepieces. The Ingenieur has a long history with Gerald Genta, who worked on its design. It’s a model that presents itself in exciting shapes and colours.
DISCOVER INGENIEUR WATCHES
Hardly any other brand is so closely connected with pilot’s watches as IWC. Even today, the famous models of the Mark series and the Big Pilot’s watch make up IWC’s core DNA. New models like the Top Gun Miramar are very convincing with their large-size, military-pilot appearance. IWC also knows how to make an understatement that’s equally attractive with its recently launched Mark XVIII.
DISCOVER PILOTS WATCHES
The Portofino collection builds an important part of the Portugieser collection. Its main feature is that it’s a very elegant timekeeper (originally conceived as a boat clock) that is also well-equipped for any sporting challenge. Just like the Portugieser, the Portofino collection also has a manufacture movement, often with a multi-day power reserve.
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IWC broken down into numbers
2: Two sailors from Portugal
IWC realised early on that the advantages of a pocket watch movement could also be incorporated in wristwatches when it constructed its first Big Pilot. Its oversized calibre had been originally intended for wristwatches.
26: Twenty-six letters in the German alphabet
IWC is the single most important, German speaking Swiss watch manufacturer, not least of which is because both Breitling and Omega are principally located in German speaking Solothurn. However, German is also used by both brands as their official language.
1: A direct relative of C.G. Jung
It’s true that the famous psychologist and psychiatric Carl Gustav Jung was once a partner at IWC. This is because the oldest daughter of its owner, Emma Rauschenbach, was his wife. Perhaps Jung would have eventually taken over the leadership position of IWC if he hadn’t been so pre-occupied with researching the depths of the human psyche, but rather with the management of balance sheets and marketing strategies. Either way, it was ultimately the husband of the youngest daughter and not C.G. Jung that took over the job position.
5: Five screws as design elements
Not only did Gerald Genta design the Patek Philippe Nautilus as well as the Royal Oak from Audemars Piguet, but also the IWC Ingenieur. It’s the third icon in the roster of famous pieces from this legendary watch inventor. While the Royal Oak has eight screws on the bezel, there’s only five on his design of the Ingenieur.
125: One hundred and twenty five ETA based pieces
The worldwide most complicated mechanical wristwatch, the Destriero Scafusia, was created on IWC’s 125th anniversary in 1993. It’s equipped with a tourbillon, a double chronograph, a minute repeater, as well as a perpetual calendar. The legendary Destriero Scafusia is limited to 125 pieces and it’s a prime example that an ebauche produced in-house (the watch’s movement is based on an ETA/Valjoux 7750) isn’t always the deciding factor when judging the innovation and know-how that’s been invested into a watch’s calibre.
A Chronology of IWC
1868: Florentine Ariosto Jones, a watchmaker from Boston, founded IWC (International Watch Company) near the German border in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
1936: IWC presents its first Pilots’ watch.
1939: The Portugieser collection is launched.
1940: The Big Pilot is presented for the first time and a legend is born. Even today, the Big Pilot is still one of the most popular models from IWC. This watch benchmark continues to be one of the most sought after models of the last 10 years on the used market.
1948: The legendary IWC Mark XI pilot’s watch is released. The classic watch incorporated the legendary manufacture calibre 89, which has been assembled into innumerable, elegant, three handed timepieces.
1954: The IWC Ingenieur is launched. It incorporated the first automatic calibre with Schaffhausen origins, which could be wound in both directions.
1969: As one of the first Swiss brands, it launches a quartz controlled movement that ticks inside an IWC Da Vinci.
1976: Gerald Genta designs the Ingenieur SL with the reference 1832 and a divers’ helmet is used as its template. As standard practice in most of his designs, screws haven’t been hidden away, but rather have been integrated into the watch’s overall design.
1987: The IWC Novecento is released. It’s one of a few square shaped watches with a water resistant case, a perpetual calendar, and powered by an automatic movement.
1993: The Destriero Scafusia is created on the 125th birthday of this brand. At the time, it’s the worldwide most complicated mechanical watch that has a tourbillon, a rattrapante chronograph, minute repeater, perpetual calendar, as well as other complications.
2000: IWC becomes a part of Richemont.
2004: A new edition of the Aquatimer is released.
2010: A brand new Portugieser collection is launched. Among its numbers are a sporty Portugieser Yacht Club as well as a Portugieser with a flying tourbillon and retro date display.
2011: The Portugieser Sidérale Scafusia is released and comes equipped with several complications, but the real highlight is its tourbillon. The escapement is constantly fed energy which keeps its vibration amplitude constant. A similar concept in the constant force escapement movement was created by Girard Perregaux in 2013.
2020: A smaller, 40mm IWC Portugieser Automatic finally sees the light of day.