IWC Steel Cal. 89

IWC Steel Cal. 89

Every watch has a history, a hidden lineage that guides it and makes it into the interesting and desirable timepiece we are so often in search of today.  Sometimes the lineage is apparent, the bloodlines of icons that have resisted change for decades.  Other times, as is the case with this IWC, the horological DNA is hidden from view by an otherwise humble and reserved veneer.   

Despite a slough of impressive timepieces from the Swiss manufacture, the International Watch Company is likely best known among vintage enthusiasts and collectors for a handful of monolithic designs that have become part of a benchmark of quality and innovation - the Portuguese, the Ingenieur and the Mark XI Pilot's watch.  

Bracketed by the brand's other successes, the Mark XI, which first went into production in 1948, was borne out of the rubble of World War II.  Though many of the brand's factories lay in ruins, they rose to the challenge of producing an updated mil-spec watch for the British Ministry of Defense.  The watch needed to be simple and robust and capable of greater standards of timekeeping.  IWC responded with the Calibre 89 manually-winding movement, casing it in a soft iron inner sarcophagus and a 35mm stainless steel case.

The Mark XI was tried and proven, the Caliber 89 being lauded as one of the most robust and reliable movements of the era.  But as Europe repaired itself, the focus moved away from war-time production, shifting instead to the production of timepieces for the average citizen. 

Rather than redesign a movement for the new era of consumer-grade watches, IWC continued production of the Calibre 89 and began fitting 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 steel case with faceted bombay-style lugs, was likely produced in the mid 1950s.  The matte silver dial, which has taken on a light speckled patina that highlights the applied stick markers and matching gold-toned sword hands, is indicative of the understated designs of the era and works to further conceal the legendary drivetrain inside.  

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 - and with its Mark XI brethren drawing big numbers, this watch is a proposition that shouldn't be ignored.     


Stainless Steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). IWC Calibre 89 Manually Winding Movement. 1950s.

Includes one 20mm Cask Strap and two 20mm nylon straps by Crown & Buckle.

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