Published, Vervemagazine.in July 8, 2016
The first Special Pilot’s Watch left the IWC (International Watch Company) factory in 1936. It was the start of a unique relationship between IWC Schaffhausen and flying.
Today, 80 years later, Verve speaks to the IWC historian, David Seyffer, about the tradition of the Pilot’s Watch and about becoming an IWC collector.
What does 2016 mean for IWC?
“Eighty years (of the pilot’s watches) – and we have now really made happen with a huge collection! With a different variation, really to please all needs or tastes of watch lovers but still hold onto the main characters of the heritage of the Pilot’s Watch.”
IWC at one point targeted the next male generation with the ‘father and son pilot’s watches’ – is this still a trend and has your target customer changed now?
“I do not think so. Interestingly, I have met people, where the man had the Big Pilot’s watch and the woman was wearing the son’s edition. Today, the youth knows and appreciates the nostalgia associated with the mechanical watch. With all that is going on in the world, people want something out of history.”
If there is one vintage IWC watch that any collector must own which would it be?
“I would really recommend (since it’s on my wrist) the Mark XI. The reason: it’s affordable as a collector’s piece, and we have huge quantity of spare parts if it comes for servicing. The movement, Caliber 89, is like an all-running system. It’s impressive how precise these movements are which are made in the 1940s, 1950s, and it has really a cool-looking feeling. So if somebody wants to start with collecting wristwatches, this is really a nice timepiece to start with.”
Approximately, how much would it cost?
“This depends on editions. You could potentially find a vintage watch within 4-5 thousand dollars, but then if it is a rare piece and is in good condition, possibly used by BOAC, then it could go to 15 thousand dollars or so. Also, authenticity…are they all the parts 100% authentic or not?”
If somebody in India wanted to buy one of the vintage watches, where would they go? How could they check the authenticity?
“Now we are living in the world of international business, so you can really get it everywhere. For example, if you find a nice offer on the Internet. But, then it’s the point of the authenticity. IWC offers a ‘certificate of authenticity’: you send your watch to IWC; there is a team of 3-4 watchmakers (and myself) and if everything looks fine, then you get an official certificate. Also works for people who want to sell antique or heritage timepieces. Interesting for all are the auctions (worldwide from the famous auction houses) where you may find a MARK XI Pilot’s watch!”
If you could get a carte blanche to create a pilot’s watch based on the history that you are so well versed with, would it be very different from what the brand currently has?
“Not really…because this year’s collection is so strongly related to the original design. Probably a small change I would recommend, as a conservative person, would be to skip the date, to make the watch look like a Mark XI.”
What is the one takeaway that you would leave a new watch buyer with when it comes to IWC’s rich history and tradition?
“IWC is located on the eastern part of Switzerland, therefore the design is different. It’s this east German-Swiss approach with the watch – you can find it in the way the bracelets are made. And in the way the cases were made. And of course, traditionally, what IWC was always about: precision and quality.”
Who is the IWC watch collector?
“The typical watch collector is in a certain way, a freak, highly knowledgeable, with a diverse background. We have very, very rich people and we have students who save every cent they earn just to get a historical timepiece, or a new timepiece. Bottom line is, the interest to learn as much as possible about the watch. Recently, in the collector’s meet, there were people from the USA, Europe. And, there was Captain Vishal who flies Air-India A-330 for several years and guess what he wears—An IWC Pilot’s watch! So you see, meeting people from all over the world, and really with that passion, feels great!”