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Aquatimer Automatic 2000
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IWC: Steeped in Swiss Watchmaking Tradition
IWC Schaffhausen is among the world's most famous luxury watch manufacturers. Their pilot's watches have achieved cult status and the Portugieser collection allows this brand to show off its haute horlogerie capabilities.
5 Reasons to Buy a Watch from IWC
- A storied Swiss manufacturer founded in 1868
- Iconic models, including the Pilot's Watch, Portugieser, and Da Vinci
- First-rate craftsmanship
- Materials like stainless steel, gold, titanium, ceramic, and bronze
- Tool and dress watches for men and women
Luxury Watches for Every Occasion
The storied Swiss luxury watch manufacturer International Watch Company, better known as IWC, is one of the titans of the industry. Based in the town of Schaffhausen, this company enjoys widespread fame thanks to their pilot's watches, which they've been producing since the mid-1930s. Every model has cult status: from the 1936 Spezialuhr für Flieger (special watch for pilots) and the legendary IWC Mark 11 to modern collections such as the Spitfire and Top Gun.
However, their dress watch collections, such as the Portugieser, Portofino, and Da Vinci, are classics in their own right and delight watch fans the world over. The same is true of the Ingenieur and Aquatimer collections. Each timepiece only adds to IWC's fantastic reputation.
Every IWC collection is a masterful blend of tradition and modernity; for example, the Ingenieur features cases made of ceramic, bronze, or titanium, and the Aquatimer has an intriguing internal-external bezel system. What's more, precise movements are a given with IWC watches. While most timepieces use an in-house caliber, IWC also offers watches with refined versions of ETA or Sellita base movements.
How much does an IWC watch cost?
|Portugieser Grande Complication||209,000 USD||20 complications|
|Portugieser Perpetual Calendar||29,500 USD||Perpetual calendar, moon phase|
|Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph||25,000 USD||Perpetual calendar, chronograph, moon phase|
|Big Pilot's Watch 7-Day Power Reserve||12,000 USD||168-hour power reserve, date|
|Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Double Chronograph||8,200 USD||Double chronograph, date, ceramic case|
|Ingenieur Chronograph||7,300 USD||Chronograph, date|
|Aquatimer Ocean 2000||7,200 USD||Water resistant to 2,000 m (6,562 ft), date|
|Portugieser Chronograph||6,300 USD||Chronograph, date|
|Ingenieur Automatic||4,200 USD||Date|
|Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII||3,800 USD||Date|
Detailed Price Information for Pilot's Watches
The Pilot's Watches collection is by far the largest IWC collection. Models in the Heritage and Classic lines are direct descendants of classic vintage timepieces. These watches range from 40 to 55 mm in diameter and are outfitted with ETA, Sellita, or in-house calibers. A simple, three-hand Mark XVIII costs around 3,700 USD, while intricate chronographs demand up to 12,500 USD.
You'd be forgiven for mistaking the Spitfire series for one of its sister models. However, upon closer inspection, it quickly becomes clear that it's a distinct line of watches. First, the cases are made of either stainless steel or bronze. Moreover, current Spitfire models come exclusively with in-house calibers , which provide these timepieces with a chronograph function, second time zone, perpetual calendar, or moon phase display. Prices largely depend on the set of complications, but generally fall between 5,600 and 34,000 USD.
The IWC pilot's watches in the Top Gun series look particularly modern. Their dials are very similar to those of other models, but their ceramic cases set them apart. At SIHH 2019, IWC presented the Top Gun Mojave Desert. While most Top Gun timepieces have shiny black cases, this model's case resembles the sand of its namesake desert. The Top Gun is available as a three-hand watch or a double chronograph and sells for 6,700 to 12,500 USD.
IWC regularly releases limited edition pilot's watches in honor of French pilot and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Most of these models have extremely intricate finishes and are made of gold or platinum. You can purchase a simple three-hand timepiece for as little as 4,500 USD. Be sure to have around 10,000 USD on hand for a watch with a double chronograph or annual calendar. If you're interested in the edition with a tourbillon and moon phase display, expect prices well above 225,000 USD.
Anti-Magnetic Classic: The Ingenieur
Similar to the pilot's watches, the IWC Ingenieur marks a milestone in this brand's history. At its release in 1955, this tool watch was one of a handful of timepieces with protection against magnetic fields. This was possible thanks to an additional inner case made of soft iron. The Ingenieur received a boost in popularity in the mid-1970s when Gérald Genta, a legendary watch designer, put his own spin on it. A slightly barrel-shaped case, round bezel with a porthole design, and integrated bracelet defined this collection for years. Prior to the redesigned Ingenieur, a similar design had already appeared on Genta's other famous watch: the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak. The current Ingenieur collection has returned to the classic round design of the original Ingenieur with reference number 666.
There are numerous variations of the Ingenieur available. There is a stainless steel three-hand watch, a chronograph, and even an 18-karat yellow gold timepiece with a perpetual calendar. Prices range from 4,100 to 46,500 USD. Those looking for models from the 70s and 80s will find plenty of interesting choices on the pre-owned market. Depending on the watch's condition, you'll encounter prices between 3,800 and 9,500 USD. Models from the 50s and 60s are also common and demand anywhere from 5,600 to 11,000 USD.
Be sure to set aside around 4,400 USD for a current three-hand Aquatimer in stainless steel. That price climbs to about 6,300 USD for chronograph models. Limited editions like the Aquatimer Sharks and Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month in 18-karat rose gold often sell for between 11,000 and 38,500 USD. If you prefer the look of the vintage model with two crowns from the 60s, you'll need to have around 22,500 USD on hand to purchase a well-maintained timepiece. Versions from the late 1990s and early 2000s offer more affordable alternatives. They also have two crowns, but only cost 2,200 to 3,400 USD.
The Portugieser and Portofino: Classic, Elegant, Complicated
The Portugieser (German for "Portuguese") and Portofino collections embody classic elegance. The Portugieser traces its roots back to the 1930s, when two Portuguese businessmen commissioned IWC to make a wristwatch that housed the most precise pocket watch movement possible. Since then, it has become its own extensive collection of timepieces with the finest finishes and sophisticated complications. The watches in this collection feature a range of complications, including chronographs, perpetual calendars, minute repeaters, and tourbillions – the Grande Complication features an impressive 20 complications.
This collection's various chronographs change hands for anywhere between 6,200 and 13,000 USD. You'll need about 4,500 USD more to purchase the Portugieser with an annual calendar. The variant with a perpetual calendar or tourbillion requires an investment of 29,000 to 40,000 USD. The model with 20 complications is in a league of its own and demands around 206,000 USD.
IWC's designers were rather restrained when developing the Portofino collection. These timepieces exude simple elegance, making them the perfect dress watch for any occasion. The collection contains classic three-hand watches, chronographs, watches with moon phase and power-reserve displays, and even tourbillon watches. Automatic Sellita movements or manual in-house movements lend these watches their accuracy. The Portofino collection has something for everyone. Its cases range from 37 to 45 mm in diameter and come in stainless steel or gold. Some models are even studded with diamonds.
Stainless steel three-hand timepieces change hands for 3,400 to 4,500 USD, and the gold editions cost about double that. The same goes for the series' chronographs: The steel version sells for about 5,600 USD, while its golden counterpart costs some 11,300 USD. The collection's top model with a moon phase, gold case, and diamonds can cost up to 30,000 USD.
Da Vinci: The Versatile Dress Watch
Even though IWC has been sporadically producing watches under the "Da Vinci" name since 1969, they didn't give them their own collection until 2017. Da Vinci watches are always changing: Some models are round, others are rectangular, and some are barrel-shaped. What's more, they aren't strangers to intricate complications. In the current Da Vinci collection, you'll find round 18-karat rose gold or stainless steel watches, both with and without diamonds. Similar to the Portofino, the Da Vinci is a great option for men and women alike due to its 36 to 44-mm case size. In terms of complications, you can choose from a perpetual calendar, chronograph, tourbillon, or moon phase display.
You can purchase a modern stainless steel watch with three hands for as little as 4,500 USD. Pieces with a chronograph function demand about 11,500 USD. Gold models with diamonds and complications like a perpetual calendar sit at the upper end of the price range. Expect to pay between 24,500 and 36,500 USD for one of these timepieces. At the opposite end, you'll find vintage watches with prices starting around 1,100 USD.
The History of the International Watch Company
IWC Schaffhausen has had quite a turbulent history. American watchmaker and engineer Florentine Ariosto Jones first came up with the idea for this brand. Jones was born in New Hampshire in 1841 and fought in the Civil War. After the war ended, Jones went to Boston and began working at one of the leading watch manufacturers, E. Howard & Company, where he quickly rose through the ranks.
Jones wanted to introduce modern engineering technology from the United States to the Swiss watch industry. After traveling to Switzerland, the young American met industrialist Johann Heinrich Moser, who owned a watch factory and hydropower plant in the town of Schaffhausen am Rhein.
In 1868, Jones rented a few rooms in Moser's factory and founded the International Watch Company. He ended up building his own factory soon thereafter. Despite Switzerland's relatively low labor costs, IWC generated little profits. Demand was too low and import duties in the United States were too high. The company eventually went bankrupt, and Jones' watch factory fell into the hands of the Schaffhausener Handelsbank (commercial bank). In 1874, the bank converted IWC into a stock company.
After filing for bankruptcy again in 1880, Johannes Rauschenbach purchased the company. This marked the beginning of a much calmer phase of IWC's history. The business remained in the same family for several generations. Famed Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung was a shareholder for a period of time. In 1929, his brother-in-law, Ernst Jakob Homberger, purchased his shares. Homberger's son, Hans Ernst Homberger, took the reins in 1955 and was the final member of the Rauschenbach family to run IWC.
The quartz crisis, high gold prices, and a weak dollar all led to Hans Ernst Homberger selling the business to a German company in 1978. Another tumultuous era was on the horizon for IWC. They were now under the control of VDO Adolf Schindling AG, which was best known for producing speedometers. VDO had already incorporated another traditional Swiss watch manufacturer earlier that same year, namely Jaeger-LeCoultre. In 1991, VDO merged with the Mannesmann corporation, taking both companies with them. The telecommunications firm Vodafone bought the Mannesmann group in 2000. Not looking to enter the watch industry, Vodafone sold IWC, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Lange Uhren GmbH (A. Lange & Söhne) to the Swiss luxury watch conglomerate Richemont. IWC remains part of the Richemont group to this day, alongside brands like Panerai and Baume & Mercier.