IWC Cal.88 18ct 1946 36.5mm – 1st Edition!


100% Genuine & All Original

Fully Restored, Serviced and Guaranteed

A Beautifully Well Cared for Rarely Used Example

Oversize 36.5mm Diameter Case, excluding the Crown

Very High Grade Cal.88, 17 Jewels Manual Movement

First Edition from the First Year of Production of this Movement

Original Yellow Gold ‘Dauphine’ Hands and Subsidiary Seconds Dial

High Quality 18ct Yellow Gold Case with Bold Oversize Lugs

High Quality Crocodile Strap and plain Gold Plated Buckle

Simply Stunning Condition From Every Aspect

High Quality Hardwood Presentation Box

VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee

VGWL 12 Months’ Warranty Included*

Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery

Free UK Special Delivery

Sold 10th July '19
VGW Reference: IWC738
Price £3,550 Sold


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It is said that owning a vintage IWC is something everyone with a serious interest in vintage watches should aspire to. A strong statement perhaps, but a little time spent researching IWC and their 1950s & ’60s watches, will very likely lead one to the same conclusion. In essence, this is because during the 1940s, IWC determined it would design and produce some of the very best movements ever, and quite simply, this is what they achieved! The craftsmanship, technical excellence and sheer beauty of their exquisite movements and cases, manufactured during the ‘golden age’ of watch-making, has never been beaten – perhaps equalled occasionally, but never beaten!

An IWC is often referred to as a ‘watchmaker’s watch’. This is simply because watchmakers love them, both to work on and to own. This is due to the design, technical excellence and in particular, the sheer beauty of their watch movements.

The watch case here is quite exceptional, being oversized at almost 37mm diameter and having bold oversize lugs, with the more sought after, subsidiary seconds dial at 6 o’clock. Not to mention, of course, the amazingly good condition, but this is just what lies on the surface. Underneath the hood we find a truly iconic movement, the Cal.88 which has certainly stood the test of time, remaining in production for both civilian and military use for over 40 years!

This watch is also one of the very first production watches with this movement, having been released very early in the first year of production.

The Movement

The IWC Calibre.88 subdial movement was introduced concurrently with the IWC Calibre.89 centre second movement, which was otherwise identical. Many consider these to be the greatest manually wound movements of the 20th century. Originally developed in the early 1940s by the genius in watchmaking, Albert Pellaton, the movement was designed to meet the most demanding and highly rigorous specifications of the British Ministry of Defence. Each movement went through a 44 day testing period in five positions and ranging in temperature from -5° to +46°C. It was produced for military use continuously for over 30 years and became ‘The standard’ for military grade timepieces”. The movement also became an IWC mainstay for the commercial market, remaining in production until the mid-1990s!

We have touched on the craftsmanship and sheer beauty of IWC movements above. Some examples of the extra care and attention are the finishing applied to the bridges or plates, characterised by a series of arc-grained bars etched lightly onto bridges or plates, creating a wave-like effect. This is known as a ‘Geneva Wave’ finish. Furthermore, all the edges of the plates are beautifully bevelled which is very difficult and time-consuming to achieve. Lastly, each of the ruby jewels is set in brass ‘chantons’ which are then screwed into the plates rather than setting the jewel directly into the plates. This is the kind of detail which sets IWC apart.

The movement has been fully overhauled by our Master Watchmaker. This means stripping the watch down to all its component parts, careful inspection under high magnification, replacement where necessary with only genuine IWC parts, then careful reassembly, oiling and adjustment to manufacturer specification, before final calibration in 5 positions. This watch winds, sets and runs accurately and reliably within +8 seconds per day, averaged over 5 positions and also has a 44 hour power reserve when fully wound. Please bear in mind this is outstanding for any watch of this age. We are therefore highly confident in offering a 12 months warranty with this watch movement*.

The movement is all correctly signed ‘International Watch Co’ and ‘Swiss’ with both the Calibre number and the serial number 1121876 which dates this watch to very late 1945 / early 1946. This makes this the earliest example we have seen of this watch movement, released very early in the first year of production.

*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.

The Case

The very high quality, oversized 18ct yellow gold watch case measures 36.5mm in diameter, excluding the crown. This is exceptionally large for the period and the design and craftsmanship here really is something special. The stepped bezel improves the profile and adds character to the watch, making it seem slightly larger than it actually is. The beautifully bold oversize lugs have flowing form and significantly elevate the status of the watch. This is all nothing less than pure class.

The high polished full thickness case-back has never been inscribed. The main case body, bezel and case-back are all in beautiful condition with no scratches, dings or other damage visible to the naked eye, therefore the case has simply required a professional clean and gentle hand-polish, to bring back the almost new look of the watch.

Inside the case back, we find the case is all correctly signed ‘International Watch Co’ ‘Swiss’ with the IWC brand, Swiss Geneva 18ct hallmarks and the case serial number 1154100.

Please note, as ever, our standard advice applies: vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.

The Dial

The rarer calibre 88 movement means this watch carries a subsidiary seconds dial, which makes this watch much more sought after. It is beautifully understated, in slightly off-white with gilt hour indices matched with the original gilt ‘Dauphine’ hands. Usually, we will restore the hands of a watch of this age as they are often in quite poor condition. Here however, the hands are in top original condition and so we have left these alone and untouched as we feel this enhances the character of the watch.

The dial is signed with the infinitely more attractive, earlier, International Watch Company, Schaffhausen signature.

This is the original dial which has been sympathetically restored to the very highest standards by the best vintage watch dial restorers in the UK.

The Strap and Buckle

The watch is fitted with a new, high-quality black crocodile strap which we feel suits the watch perfectly. However, if a different colour or different style strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to provide your choice, free of charge. Please take a look at the 19mm straps at our partner’s website here.

The Box and Papers

Although there are no original papers with this watch, the movement, case numbers and hallmarks all match, dating the watch to 1946. A detailed written receipt with 12 months’ warranty* and a separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of the watch, will be provided at the time of sale, along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than totally authentic, or not as described, Vintage Gold Watches of London will offer you a full refund, at any time”.

The presentation box shown in the photographs is included in the sale.

In Conclusion

This is a truly exceptional example of a 1946 IWC 18ct dress watch which is ready to wear and completely practical for everyday use. If treated with care it will make an excellent investment and heirloom piece. IWC will always command huge respect in the high end watch market and consequently, prices are always rock solid. We are therefore sure this will make a great acquisition for any collector to wear, or simply to treasure and enjoy!

A word about our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well known stores in West London which are very successful, charging between two to three times the price you see here. We therefore consider our prices to be very fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.

We are happy to accept PayPal as this is the quickest method of payment. However, if you would like to pay by UK cheque or by UK bank transfer we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% transaction saving to you. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or Bank Wire Transfer, we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.

Please note, we also welcome part exchanges, along with outright purchases of similar watches for us to restore, service and list and can also offer Watch Service, Watch Repair & Watch Restoration, please see here.

If you have any questions please call us on 020 7727 7095 or 07515 949 250 or on +44 7515949250 if calling from overseas.

We are here, ready, available and awaiting your call!

Finally, please enjoy some time spent viewing our other fine Vintage Gold Watches!

Thank you