IWC – these three letters represent premium tool watches that are known to have a robust, sleek, and masculine aesthetic. The luxury brand from Schaffhausen is fully authorised to use the motto “Engineered for Men” due to its long-lasting tradition in manufacturing bold wristwatches for professional occasions. Discover more about the milestones in the history of IWC and learn about the five key models in the collection today.
The success of IWC started with the same pioneering spirit that the brand is famous for today: The American watchmaker and engineer Florentine A. Jonas chose to leave behind his life in the USA and seek out a new adventure in Switzerland. Here, he launched the International Watch Company – short for IWC. At the time, Switzerland offered premium conditions for market entry due to an abundance of qualified watchmakers as well as superior loan conditions compared to the USA.
IWC initially began manufacturing pocket watches and eventually moved on to create wristwatches. Before long, the company manoeuvred its path to focus on an element that they are recognised for worldwide today: In 1935, IWC introduced the first tool watch to the market – a pilot's watch with a black dial, bold indicators, and luminous materials. In addition, the timepiece featured a rotating bezel and an arrow to better indicate the time.
In 1940, the first IWC Big Pilot with a case size of 55 millimetres was manufactured for the German Air Force. The watch featured the same aesthetics typical of aviator watches today. In 1948, the legendary Mark-series was introduced, featuring pieces like the Mark X that was developed and manufactured to cater to standards set by the British Air Force.
The year 2000 marked the syndication of IWC with the luxury goods group Richemont. Since then, the company has continued to create numerous tool watches that can be utilised in varying circumstances – be it underwater, up in the air, or surrounded by strong magnetic fields. Despite the utilitarian configuration of these watches, IWC models also retain a luxurious charm. It is most likely the combination of style and function that perpetuates the popularity of the brand on a global scale.
The IWC Portofino owes its name to a small fishing village near Genoa, Italy. The model exudes a strong elegant aesthetic compared to the rest of the product range from the Swiss manufacturer. The characteristics of the Portofino demonstrate a sophisticated and cultivated presence on the wrist, reminiscent of the light serenity of its Italian namesake. The model is available in different versions, including a three-pointer watch or a chronograph in steel, yellow gold or rosé gold. For nearly every kind of taste or preference, IWC offers the perfect Portofino model.
The Portugieser is one of the most popular models from the IWC collection. This, however, was not always the case. The IWC Portugieser originated thanks to two Portuguese businessmen who approached IWC in 1938 in need of a marine chronometer that could be worn on the wrist. The International Watch Company welcomed the opportunity to fill a gap in the watch market and, as a result, the Portugieser was born. The watch featured Arabic numerals and a bold 38.25 mm case, which was an incredibly large proportion back in the 1930s. Therefore, the watch was not in high demand during that time. Towards the end of the 1990s, however, when larger watches began to increase in popularity, the IWC Portugieser became an icon among watch fans worldwide. Today, the model is an integral component of the IWC selection.
Aviator watches are highly recognised and associated with IWC since the brand has been manufacturing professional timepieces for aircrafts since the 1930s. A closer look at the Pilot’s Watch collection today demonstrates an extremely broad product range: Aside from the heritage models which are available in different case sizes, IWC also offers typical aviator timepieces, including the Mark series, the Big Pilot and the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph. In this regard, it is impressive that most all aviator watches from the IWC collection today have evolved into icons in the luxury watch market today.
The Aquatimer collection has endured since 1967 and convinces thanks to its innovative features, including, for example, an internal rotating bezel, a mechanic depth gauge or a rattrapante. The internal rotating bezel is one of the key brand characteristics of the IWC Aquatimer: Most diving watches have an outer diving bezel with which you can set the diving time. The bezel of the Aquatimer, however, is located beneath the watch crystal and can be set with a second crown.
As technical progress prevailed in the 1950s and scientists and engineers increasingly found themselves in magnetic environments, IWC introduced its first IWC Ingenieur to the market in 1954. The soft-iron inner case of the watch model offered protection against magnetic fields up to 80,000 ampere per metre. The IWC Ingenieur reached a milestone between 1989 and 1993 with the reference 3508: The watch, which was designed by the legendary Gerald Genta, was protected against magnetic fields up to 500,000 A/m.
Today, IWC is a renowned luxury Swiss watchmaking brand that is coveted by watch enthusiasts and collectors alike. Our latest Watch Talk video features the famous German actor Lucas Gregorowicz trying on key pieces from the IWC collection. Watch the video to find out which models are his favourite and why:
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