IWC watches

Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC has a reputation for technical innovation and has a long history of producing watches for pilots and the military.

IWC Mark 11 RAF watch

This rare British military IWC Mark 11 RAF pilots bracelet watch dated 1948 sold for £10,000 at Watches of Knightsbridge in November 2019.

When Florentine Ariosto Jones, a watchmarker from Boston, USA, founded the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen, Switzerland in 1868 his initial aim was to produce high quality watches for the American market but his company ended up doing far more than that.

Key dates

Here are key dates in IWC's history, including when its major watches were first issued. These watch brands continue to be made today, and both recent and older IWC watches can be found at auctions on thesaleroom.com.

1880: The company was acquired by engine manufacturer Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel who was succeeded by his son as leader of the company the following year.

1899: IWC made its first wristwatch, a ladies watch.

1936: IWC's first special pilot's watch was issued. Fitted with a rotating bezel with an arrowhead index that could be used to record take-off times, it was also anti-magnetic.

1939: Two importers from Portugal ordered a series of high-precision large wristwatches. The IWC Portuguese watch was born.

1940: IWC issued the Big Pilot's watch. It had a simple design and was very large, enabling pilots to see the time at night easily.

1944: IWC made the W.W.W. ('Watch, Wrist, Waterproof') for the British army.

1948: The Pilot's Watch Mark 11 was launched.

1955: The Ingenieur watch with automatic winding was launched.

1967: IWC issued its first diver's watch, the Aquatimer. The Yacht Club Automatic watch was also unveiled at the Basel Watch Show.

1969: The Da Vinci watch became the first IWC wristwatch to incorporate a quartz movement.

1984: The Portofino watch was developed.

1994: The Pilot's Watch Mark XII was launched.

IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar

This IWC Portofino Perpetual Calendar is an 18-carat gold wristwatch from about 1990. It sold for £3200 at Dreweatts in March 2020.

Buying at auction

If a new IWC watch is too pricey or doesn’t provide the classic style you are looking for, a second hand one at auction could be just the thing. Plenty of examples with a range of dates are available to buy at auctions on thesaleroom.com.

Many auction houses hold regular specialist watch sales or watches and jewellery sales, while others include a selection of watches within a bigger auction, making it easy to find plenty of IWC watches at any time of year.

With so many examples on offer you will always find plenty to suit your budget.

Price range

Condition, age and rarity determine the prices that second-hand IWC watches will sell for at auction.

The entry-level price for a good example at auction is typically around the high-three figures. At the top end, a rare IWC Mark 11 can fetch £10,000 or more.

What to look out for

Check the auction house’s lot description. It will typically state whether the IWC watch you are considering bidding on is in working order or needs repair. Some watches may have been repaired in the past in which case some of the parts, for example, may not be the originals. That would make it less desirable for a specialist collector and thus more affordable for you.

The lot description will also usually detail condition issues such as any scratches. These may often be typical wear and tear for a watch that was worn every day by its previous owner or they may be more severe.

IWC Yacht Club automatic watch

This IWC Yacht Club automatic watch from about 1969 has scratches consistent with it being worn over a number of years and sold for £1100 at Gardiner Houlgate in Corsham in February 2020.

You can request a condition report from the auctioneer if it is not already in the lot description. Attending a viewing in person will also enable you to try on the watch you are considering bidding for and inspect it for yourself close-up.

Auction houses with a watches department will employ a specialist you can contact to discuss your requirements and answer your questions.

What to do next

Decide how much you’d like to spend and use the search facility on thesaleroom.com to find IWC watches coming up for sale.

You can filter your search by, among other things, price and by location of the auction house to narrow down your selection.

To research recent prices at auction to see how much different IWC watches sold for you can also try out the Price Guide.

If you are new to bidding check out our guide to buying at auction – it’s easy once you know how.

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