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The Calibre 89 began its life inside the mind of movement designer Albert Pellaton. Pellaton cut his teeth at Vacheron Constantin, but went to Schaffhausen as IWC's Technical Director in 1944. For his first major project, Pellaton designed the Calibre 89, which would signify a renewal of production for the war-torn watch industry in post-war Europe.
Pellaton built the Caliber 89 on the skeleton of the Calibre 83, which had been IWC's workhorse movement since the early 1930s. The Caliber 89, in turn, owes its existence to the British Ministry of Defense, who set forth a new standard of specifications for military-grade timepieces. This standard, dubbed 6B/346, required a chronometer-grade, anti-magnetic movement. IWC (and Jaeger-LeCoultre, who also received the contract) met the antimagnetic properties by covering the movement with a soft iron cage. Though not the most complex movement in terms of construction, the Caliber 89 nevertheless combined state-of-the-art (for then) technology--such as double barrels and a newly-patented drive train for the sweeping seconds hand--with a plain, unadorned appearance that spoke to the movement's sturdiness and reliability.
While the Calibre 89 is most renowned for its use in the Mark XI pilot's watch, it made its way into a wide array of civilian-grade timekeepers, many of which sported the same spartan design language as their military brethren. Rather than redesign a movement for the new era of consumer-grade watches, IWC continued production of the Calibre 89 and fitted it into a range of simple, time-only watches for the modern man. From precious metal-cased dress watches to more utilitarian steel models, the mil-spec Calibre 89 took on a new life on wrists all across the world.
This particular Calibre 89, wrapped in a 36mm Staybrite steel case, was likely produced in the mid 1950s. The matte silver dial is indicative of the understated designs of the era. It's also signed by both IWC and Cartier, signifying that it was retailed by the well-renowned jeweler.
While the sportier Caliber 89-powered Mark XI garners more attention than its dressier twins, this watch provides a more affordable alternative. Whether you're in the market for a simple classy piece, or you're looking for an exceptional vintage daily-wearer with a revered history, this IWC Caliber 89 is for you.
Staybrite steel case is approximately 35mm (excluding crown). IWC Caliber 89 Manually-Wound Movement, circa 1950s.
Staybrite steel case is in very good condition, with slight signs of use and wear in keeping with its age, including some light scratches on the sides and on the lugs. Cartier-signed dial is in very good condition with crisp printing and no major signs of discoloration or hand drag. Luminescent elements on the hour markers have gained an even patina over time. Minute hand is missing lume. IWC crown; case-back shows some scratches and deep tool marks but is in otherwise good condition.
Includes one 18mm lizard analogs/shift strap with steel buckle.