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IWC, short for the International Watch Company, is a leading Swiss luxury watch manufacturer. Their pilot's watches are iconic timepieces, although they also have famous dress watches such as the Portugieser or the Portofino. More

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IWC: Superb Swiss Quality Since 1868

IWC, short for the International Watch Company, is a leading Swiss luxury watch manufacturer. Their pilot's watches are iconic timepieces, although they also have famous dress watches such as the Portugieser or the Portofino.


  • Luxury watches with in-house calibers
  • Long tradition of creating pilot's watches
  • Elegant collections like the Portugieser and Da Vinci
  • Featuring complications like tourbillons and flyback chronographs
  • Stainless steel, gold, and platinum cases

In Service of the Royal Air Force

IWC was founded in 1868 and has gone through many ownership changes, finally landing in the Richemont Group, which also owns companies such as Cartier and Dunhill. A large part of IWC's fame can be attributed to an important 20th-century invention: the airplane. During the Second World War, IWC began producing the 52-caliber T. S. C. Big Pilot's Watch with an in-house caliber and central seconds. The watch could be worn over a flight suit. It had a case diameter of 55 mm and weighed 183 grams, making it the largest watch ever made by IWC. This watch lives on in the new Big Pilot's Heritage Watch 55, which pays homage to the original timepiece.

The Mark 11, IWC's most famous pilot's watch, followed in 1948. Members of the Royal Air Force used the watch for 30 years. Its current successor is the Mark XVIII, a simple 40-mm three-hand watch made of stainless steel. Thanks to a black dial with white indices and baton hands, it's easily legible.

IWC produces around two dozen different pilot's watches. One series is named after the pilot and author Antoine de Saint Exupéry, another after the legendary British aircraft Spitfire. The Top Gun series, on the other hand, is anchored in the age of jets. Some models are split-seconds chronographs. They have a dragging counter-hand (rattrapante) which allows you to time interval periods. These watches can be identified by a third push-piece at 10 o'clock.

IWC Ingenieur: The Technical Timepiece

Another series with a technical focus is the Ingenieur. Some models are dedicated to Formula 1 racing drivers such as Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. The Ingenieur Automatic is considered one of the most well-known watches with its special soft-iron inner case designed to offset the influence of magnetic fields. It has a rather conservative design and a standard size of 40 mm. Other Ingenieur models have a more futuristic look and follow the trend of larger watches with case sizes of 46 mm. The Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon is primarily made of platinum and ceramic. Its in-house caliber 94800 has an impressive power reserve of 96 hours, a power reserve display, a countdown display showing phases until the next full moon, and double moon phase displays for the northern and southern hemispheres - in addition to a tourbillon. The watch has a limited run of 50 timepieces.

IWC Aquatimer: For Divers

It's almost obligatory to have a high-quality diving watch on offer if a manufacturer wants to be considered a first-class Swiss luxury watch brand. IWC has the Aquatimer. Its most advanced model is the Automatic 2000, which is waterproof to 2,000 m (200 bar). IWC introduced the first prototype in 1982 as a service watch to be used by mine divers. The 46-mm case is made of titanium, making it lightweight and robust. The Aquatimer Expedition Charles Darwin is made of an unusual valuable material, bronze. Another version of the Aquatimer, the Deep Three, has a mechanical depth gauge. All Aquatimers have a mechanical external/internal rotating bezel that prevents the wearer from accidentally moving the inner bezel, which records dive time.

IWC Portugieser: The Classic Dress Watch

The International Watch Company showcases another side of themselves with the Portugieser, the Portofino, and the Da Vinci. The Portugieser is a classic, elegant timepiece. It was first produced in the 1930s when two Portuguese merchants requested a large, precise watch from IWC. Models are available in stainless steel, red gold, and platinum. Watch experts consider the Portugieser Chronograph (reference number 3714) to be one of the most successful watches of its kind. The Portugieser allowed IWC to compete on a level with luxury brands like Patek Philippe. The Portugieser is available in many different varieties, including models with a perpetual calendar, minute repetition, or a moon phase indicator. Calibers with tourbillons are also present in the collection. Unlike other conservative dress watches, the Portugieser uses Arabic numerals for hour indices instead of Roman numerals.

IWC Portofino: The Elegant Timepiece

The Portofino is not so stylistically different from the Portugieser. It's named after the picturesque Italian town of Portofino, located near the city of Genoa. The simplest version of the watch is a two-hand watch without a date display and a case made of either 18-karat red gold or stainless steel. It features the manual, in-house caliber 59060. A power reserve display on the caliber is visible on the reverse side. The similar automatic version with caliber 35111 has an additional seconds hand and date display. There are also versions with multiple complications, such as a chronograph or moon phase indicator. Some models experience an increase in value due to diamond-set dials and bezels.

Da Vinci: The Extravagant Timepiece

The elegant Da Vinci immediately stands out from the other IWC collections with its tonneau-shaped case. Comparable watches are available from competitors such as Cartier and Jaeger-LeCoultre, both of which also belong to the Richemont Group. Vintage Da Vincis with a round case exist; they are simple three-hand watches with a date display and stainless steel case. However, the Da Vinci is also available in versions with intricate complications and rose or white gold cases, such as the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. Its mechanical chronograph movement 89800 has many extras, such as a perpetual calendar, leap year indicator, flyback function, and a large, double-digit date and month display. The case is made of 18-karat rose gold.

Buying Advice

Are you interested in buying a luxury watch from one of the biggest names in Swiss watchmaking? For years, IWC has been creating watches beloved by collectors and experts alike.

The watches in the Mark X series have an excellent reputation as pilot's watches. A well-maintained Mark 11 from the 1950s goes for around 7,000 euros, making it twice as expensive as a new contemporary Mark XVIII model. The larger pilot's watch with a split-seconds chronograph costs around 8,000 euros. The purist aesthetics of these watches can be traced back to their functions; they're designed to be used as cockpit instruments by pilots.

The diving watch Aquatimer is an interesting alternative to Rolex's Submariner and Omega's Seamaster. Prices start at 4,000 euros for a new stainless steel entry model. Red gold versions of the Deep Three with a titanium case cost over 12,000 euros.

The Ingenieur covers a wide price spectrum. The robust, Spartan-like Ingenuier Automatic is a completely different watch than the complicated Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month, which has more of a Hublot feel. Vintage Ingenieur quartz watches are available for 2,000 - 3,000 euros. A new Automatic starts around 4,500 euros. The most expensive Ingenieur models cost over 10,000 euros. The higher price tags are due to intricate calibers with multiple complications and the use of materials such as ceramic and carbon.

If you're looking for a more classic dress watch, then the Portugieser or Portofino are good choices. A new, stainless steel Portugieser chronograph starts around 5,000 euros. With a tourbillon or a rare complication like a minute repeater, the price rockets to 70,000 - 80,000 euros. Red gold or platinum cases are standard in this price range.

Some older versions of the Portofino are comparably more affordable, as they're powered by quartz movements. You can find well-maintained vintage models for less than 2,000 euros. A new Portofino Automatic costs around 3,000 euros, although it isn't powered by an in-house caliber. Instead, the 35111 caliber, which is based on the Sellita SW300-1, ticks away inside this watch. A white gold Portofino with complications like a moon phase indicator or a chronograph costs around 20,000 euros.

The Portugieser and the Portofino aren't IWC's only stylish dress watches. The tonneau-shaped Da Vinci is also a classic, elegant timepiece. The Da Vinci didn't always have a tonneau shape, however. You can find vintage models with round cases and quartz movements for around 2,000 - 3,000 euros. At the upper price range of the Da Vinci series are the new Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month timepieces with red gold cases, which are available for around 27,000 euros. If you want a Da Vinci with a platinum case, you should plan to spend over 30,000 euros.

The History of the International Watch Company

IWC has a unique history, as it's a Swiss company founded by an American. The founder, Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841 - 1916) was a watchmaker and engineer in Boston. He had a leading position with the watch manufacturer E. Howard & Company. However, Jones was searching for a way to combine Swiss watchmaking with modern American finishing techniques. He was attracted to a company based in Switzerland, where the wages were comparatively low at the time. The Bostonian traveled to Europe and met with the industrialist Heinrich Moser, who owned a hydroelectric power station in the town of Schaffhausen am Rhein. The name of this town is still written on the dials of IWC watches to this day.

Moser also produced watches and the two became business partners. Jones founded the International Watch Company in 1868. At first, he rented a few rooms from Moser in a factory, but eventually he moved into his own building. The business did not do very well; exporting to the USA turned out to be difficult due to high import taxes, and there wasn't enough demand. IWC failed and Jones bowed out of the company. A bank in Schaffhausen took over the business and in 1874, IWC became a public limited company.

In 1880, after another bankruptcy, Johannes Rauschenbach bought the company. His family ran the business for decades and across generations. Even the founder of analytical psychology, Carl Jung, became a shareholder in the business when he married Emma Rauschenbach. In 1929, his brother-in-law, Ernst Jakob Homberger, bought his shares and began running the company. His son, Hans Ernst Homberger, superseded him in 1955. He was the last Homberger family member to run IWC. The Quartz Crisis, increasing gold prices, and the falling dollar resulted in H. E. Homberger selling the failing business in 1978 to a German company, VDO Adolf Schindling AG. The company was well known for their speedometers. That same year, VDO acquired another Swiss company, Jaeger-LeCoultre. In 1991, when VDO became a part of the Mannesmann Group, both luxury watch companies went as well. The phone company Vodafone purchased the Mannesmann Group in 2000. Vodafone passed IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Lange Uhren GmbH (!{man- alangesoehne,A. Lange & Söhne}) from Glashütte to the Swiss luxury goods concern Richemont. IWC is still part of this concern to this day. Other manufacturers such as Panerai and Baume & Mercier are also members of the Richemont concern.

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