IWC Watches – Features and Quality
If you’re a fan of luxury timepieces, you’ll be familiar with the International Watch Company, best known as IWC. The company is located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, and was founded in 1868 by an American who was interested in creating Swiss-made watches for the U.S. market.
The company was founded there to take advantage of what was then a surplus of available watchmaking talent. Over the years, IWC watches have become among the world’s best sellers, largely because they create quality timepieces with imaginative features and good build quality.
Many of their models are limited editions; some are literally unique. While it’s quite possible that you won’t know anyone who wears IWC watches, rest assured that if you buy one, people will remember you.
Read on for the full IWC watches review.
Styling and Features
Care and Maintenance
Where to Buy
IWC Watches Build Quality
The build quality is exceptional. They use stainless steel, titanium and gold in their cases, and the face is protected by hard sapphire crystal. Movements are Swiss-made mechanical and water resistance is available in some models up to 300 meters or so. Many models feature screw-down crowns to ensure that they remain watertight. These are high quality, limited production wristwatches that should, with proper care, last for decades.
As is to be expected with luxury timepieces, the movements are finely crafted, Swiss-made mechanical movements, mostly of the automatic variety. In addition to standard timekeeping, a number of the company’s watches feature “complications” or features that are over and above what one would normally expect to find in a wristwatch. These are examples of the watchmaker’s art and very few timepieces, even in the luxury category, include these difficult-to-manufacture features.
If you like unusual features, you’ll love this brand. They like to show off their watchmaking prowess, and as a result, you’ll see lots of interesting features in their timepieces. Sure, you’ll find the time and the date and chronograph features, but you’ll also find models that display the full four-digit year, phases of the moon, the depth of the water in which you’re currently swimming, and a perpetual calendar, among others.
Not all models have all of these features, of course, but that’s just a partial listing of the sorts of innovative features one can find in IWC watches. As a further example of the company’s technical prowess, you can even find IWC watches that feature a tourbillon.
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As is typical with products from a century-old company, you’re going to find more traditional styling in this brand. Sure, there are some sports models in the product line, but most of what they offer wouldn’t look out of place in 1955.
That’s not criticism; there’s a lot of demand for wristwatches with solid, time-proven styling. The company leaves the bright colors, odd shapes, and truly unusual designs to others and simply continues to produce elegant, reliable timepieces that will look good with sportswear, a business suit or a tuxedo.
Displays are all analog, as you might expect, and models are available with cases in steel, titanium, platinum and gold. The company loves producing limited editions, and models are often introduced in quantities of 500 or less; sometimes even less than 50. On rare occasions, they even produce a model that’s literally unique, to be auctioned off for charity. If you buy, you’re unlikely to encounter the model you buy ever again, even if you happen to hang out with others who own the same brand. If you value uniqueness, then this brand is probably a good fit for you.
As these are highly accurate, delicate timepieces, these watches do require some additional maintenance beyond what one might expect from lesser brands of wristwatches. You should wear your watch at least once a month to keep it running properly, and it’s best to store it in a watch winder to keep it running smoothly and keeping accurate time.
Additionally, IWC watches recommends that you send the timepiece back to them every five years or so for a servicing. This will involve disassembling the unit and examining the parts for wear. Worn parts are replaced, the internal parts are lubricated, water seals are replaced and the watch is then reassembled and tested for both accuracy and water resistance. You should have your watch checked by a jeweler every two years or so to ensure that the watertight seals remain intact. Otherwise, you should store your watch in a cool, dry place when it’s not being worn.
You’ll find a two year warranty against defects in materials and craftsmanship with your purchase, which we find to be roughly the industry average. Defects are quite unusual, as they are tested quite extensively at the factory, so it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll have a problem. In addition, the servicing that the company recommends every five years probably includes a warranty of its own. Please inquire of your seller if this interests you.
As these are handmade, extremely complex timepieces, it won’t surprise you to discover that prices range from moderately to extremely expensive. We’ve seen models priced as low as $4000; that will get you a high quality and attractive timepiece with a stainless steel case. Platinum, titanium, and gold will cost more, of course, and the price is also determined by availability.
Many of the company’s products are quite limited in production, and as a result, we’ve seen prices as high as $250,000 for a few models. The company has quite a lot to offer in the $8000-$20,000 range, so don’t be scared off by the super-limited models.
Collectors love this brand, so it’s not uncommon to see them change hands for sky-high prices on the secondary market, especially for older models or long-unavailable limited edition products. We’re not suggesting that you should buy for speculation purposes, but if you buy one today and it goes up in value tomorrow, we doubt that you’ll complain.
As with most luxury timepieces, the distribution and pricing is strictly controlled by the company, who likes to sell their wristwatches via company-owned boutiques and a select few retailers. In the United States, the company has exactly four boutiques and perhaps two dozen additional retailers.
Because of this, you’re not going to see a whole lot of flexibility on pricing, though it is possible, on occasion. to them at a discount. There are a few online retailers who stock them, as well. You may have to shop around if you’re looking or something specific, as many models are limited in quantity and distribution of those items tends to be a bit random.
IWC Watches Summary
If you like great build quality and a variety of innovations and mechanical complications, you’ll really like IWC watches. Their styling is traditional, as is their manufacture; they’re all about really complex mechanical movements. They’re not inexpensive, but then again, few companies make watches that have some of the features you’ll find in IWC watches. If you like the unusual, you’ll be really happy with these.