A Personal Pocket Watch Collection


 Michael Friedberg



For several years, I have been collecting watches made by International Watch Company of Schaffhausen, Switzerland. My goals have never been to collect all models nor to have in all instances the rarest examples. I consider pocket watches as intrinsically beautiful art objects and also as prime examples of the heritage of Swiss horology.  As such, my small collection is essentially a personal indulgence, reminding me of a classical tradition reflected by one watch manufacturer over more than a century.

In assembling these watches, I attempted to develop some collecting principles. In general I searched for archetypical examples, representative of IWC's history.  Stylistically, I looked for interesting casework and dials. IWC's name on the dial was a requirement, as was excellent condition.

By sharing this collection, I hope to introduce others to certain fundamental models of IWC pocket watches. If you have questions, please post them on the forum that I moderate for IWC at www.iwc.ch. These watches are not for sale.


Jones Calibre

The first movement made by Florentine Aristo Jones, the U.S. founder of IWC in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, was the Jones Calibre. While full records do not exist, reportedly approximately 26,000 Jones calibre movements were produced from 1869 to 1874.

This example, presumably from the early 1870s, is noteworthy because of the fine finishing of the movement (which were produced in varying grades), as disclosed by a glass display back, and intricate casework. The condition is virtually as new.

For a case image, click here

For a movement image, click here

Elgin I

The Elgin I movement represents a transition within IWC production, and was produced in several variations from 1879 to 1887. The variations technically are Calibers 32, 33, 34 and 35. One IWC collector affiliated with the factory surmised that at least some of the movements may not have been made in Schaffhausen.

This example has an elaborate gold hunter-style case, that also may not have been produced in Switzerland. The style used for IWC's name, including abbreviation of "International", also is notable.

For a case image, click here

For a movement image, click here


Pallweber watches were made by IWC from approximately 1885 to 1887. The so-called Pallweber movement is actually the Elgin II calibre. Reportedly 14,940 examples were made as the Calibre 42 (Pallweber III). A few other Pallweber movements were made by IWC as prototypes or as ladies' watches. Named after its inventor, the movement had both jump-hour and jump-minute indications.

This example has a silver case. Particularly noteworthy is the fact that the dial is signed "International Watch Co.", since IWC's name sometimes did not appear on dials of this model. Not all digital watches of this type were made by IWC. The patent subsequently was licensed to Cortebert and also competing systems were developed by Gedeon Thommen, Kaiser and others.

For a movement image, click here
IWC Calibre

In 1888, IWC introduced its IWC Calibre movement, which evolved to the famous Calibre 52 in 1893. With various modifications, this movement survived until 1940. Almost 300,000 examples were produced over this 54-year span, which far exceed any other IWC pocket watch movement.

This is a particularly special example. Sold in Paris in 1893, it is one of  20 that were made with an exceptionally elaborate case. It then was brought to Brazil and became owned by a wealthy land baron in the jungle. By descent, the watch then was owned by a Jesuit missionary in the Amazon until it was sold. For details regarding the provenance of this watch, please see the article From Schaffhausen to Paris to Brazil.

            For a case image, click here 

For a movement image, click here

Calibre 52

As mentioned above, the Calibre 52 movement was produced in numerous variations for over a half-century. This early example is both typical of the production, yet atypical in at least two ways. Its dial, with italicized Breguet numerals, is less common, and the styling of IWC's name in a semi-circle is rarely seen.

The Calibre 52 was a large, thick and sturdy movement of three-quarter plate design. Its height was variously 5.2, 6 or 6.5 mm and it most commonly was made in 19 ligne size (43.15 mm). It usually was produced with 16 jewels. It had a bimetallic balance plus screws. Like all IWC mechanical pocket watches, it had a Breguet overcoil.

For a movement image, click here
Calibre 57

I always considered the Calibre 57 as a less-expensive Calibre 52. Both used  a three-quarter plate design, the size variations were identical, most parts were interchangeable, and the Cal. 57 was introduced shortly after the  IWC Calibre. While much less expensive at the time, it still was an excellent movement, with a bimetallic balance, a Breguet overcoil, and either classic lever or fine adjustment. Approximately 120,000 were made from 1890 to 1931.

This particular watch, with a silver case,  was first sold in Vienna in 1927. I especially like the design: absolutely classic and clean, but with some fanciful accents, including  special Louis XV-style hands and a 24-hour chapter ring, with those numerals in red. 

Calibre 73

A "finger-bridge" movement, this calibre and its companion Savonette-style Calibre 74 were  frequently found in cases with intricate gold work, most commonly in the late 1920s. This watch was first sold in Vienna in 1929.

 Approximately 52,500 examples of the Calibre 73 movement were made from 1913 to 1930. The movement had 16 jewels, was relatively thin at 4.2mm high, and was 38 mm in diameter (16 3/4 ligne).

For a movement image, click here
Calibre 77

Considered by some collectors as among the most beautiful of IWC movements, this model is somewhat infrequently found. Only 10,500 examples of this "finger bridge" movement were produced between 1917 and 1921. Most of these were made for the U.S. market and many have U.S.-made Cress Arrow cases.

The Calibre 77 came in 16, 17, 19, 21 and 23 jewel versions; the later ones represent unusually high jewelling for IWC, although no 23-jewel example has been found today. The movement is relatively thin at 4.3 mm in height, and has a diameter of 38 mm (16 3/4 ligne).

This particular watch, which uses a particularly well-finished 21 jewel movement, has a Greek-motif gold case, with blue enamel for accents. The Grecian style  was popular in the late 1920s.

For a movement image, click here
Calibre 67

This movement is frequently found in less expensive pocket watches. While it might be considered as a less expensive model, it still is a fine movement. The Calibre 67 was made from 1933 to 1958 in 23,400 examples. It is a relatively thick movement at 5.5 mm in height, and had a diameter of 41 mm (15 ligne). It was offered in 15 or 16 jewel variations.

This example, like several others that I have seen from the 1930's, has a steel case. Aside from its minute indications on the outside chapter ring, this example is a typical basic pocket watch of its era.

Calibre 97  

The Calibre 97, and its companion Calibre 98 Savonette movement, are examples of classic pocket watch design. It is a relatively thin (4.3 mm high), full-bridge movement. Introduced in 1930, with various modifications it survived for over 40 years.

This one from the late-1930's has a thin but very high quality 18k gold case with intricate engraving on the caseback.  The gold dial has a late-1930s Art Deco appearance, which is especially known today since the style also was used by IWC in its 1993 Jubilee Portuguese wristwatch.


For a caseback image, click here
Calibre 972  

IWC produces pocket watches even today, with two models in its most recent catalog. These "contemporary" models utilize traditional movements, such as the the Calibre 97 (see above) but upgraded with shock resistance as in this Calibre 972 example.

This watch, which has a steel case, was produced in 1982 and sold in Germany.

Calibre 982 Schützenuhr 

Starting in the 19th century, special IWC watches frequently were awarded as prizes in Swiss national marksmanship competitions. This silver hunter-cased watch was produced as a prize in the 1990 competition held in Winterthur, Switzerland. The edition was limited to 100 numbered watches.

The Schützenuhr cases were elaborately engraved or produced with intaglio, as can be seen from the image of one side of the case. The movement here is identical to the Lépine-design Calibre 972, except that it is a Savonette or hunter-style design (with subsidiary seconds at a 90 degree position to the winding stem).

For a case image, click here

Copyright 2003. All rights reserved.

Michael Friedberg