In this article, we will be discussing three affordable IWC watches that would make a great first luxury watch or an excellent addition to any collection. Every model comes from a different IWC collection and is a proud representation of what the brand stands for. Furthermore, they have all come to be seen as brand icons over the years.
As a major luxury watch brand, IWC is widely recognized for their immaculate designs and the high technological standards of their in-house movements. These universally popular watches are spread over six regular collections and one limited edition collection. The regular IWC collections are the Portugieser, Portofino, Da Vinci, Ingenieur, Aquatimer, and Pilot’s Watches. The Jubilee collection (read more about it here) contains all the limited editions released for special occasions.
IWC Mark XVIII
The first watch we’ve chosen is the latest model to come from the famous IWC Pilot’s Watches collection: the IWC Mark XVIII. It is part of a long line of IWC Mark timepieces that can be traced back to a watch from 1936. The ‘Spezialuhr für Flieger’ or ‘Special Pilot’s Watch’ was one of the first watches able to withstand the extreme conditions experienced when flying. This timepiece featured a black dial with high-contrast luminous hands and large numbers to indicate the hours. These features formed the foundation upon which the iconic look of every IWC Pilot’s watch is based to this day.
Like all the Mark watches that came before it, the Mark XVIII features the same iconic dial design: large numbers and large luminous hands. Every Mark watch since the Mark XII has also had a date display. The XVIII has a 40-mm case size and is powered by the automatic IWC caliber 35111 with a 42-hour power reserve.
The current Mark XVIII is available in a variety of color configurations. The most classic version has a black dial with contrasting white hour and minute markers and a black strap. There’s also the version with a white dial on either a black leather strap or a beige textile strap. Prices for the IWC Mark XVIII sit at just over 5,300 USD – a small price to pay for a legendary piece of watchmaking history.
IWC Aquatimer Automatic
The next watch in our list is the IWC Aquatimer Automatic. This Aquatimer timepiece has been part of the IWC catalog since its premiere in 1967. At the time, it was the first watch in what would eventually become a successful new watch family for the Schaffhausen-based brand. However, it wasn’t always smooth sailing. In 1970, IWC decided to redesign the Aquatimer. Unfortunately, the watch didn’t prove very successful, mainly because the Swiss watch industry had recently taken a heavy hit as a result of the Japanese quartz revolution.
IWC relaunched the Aquatimer in 1998 with the IWC Aquatimer GST Automatic 2000, thus beginning the Aquatimer family as we know it today. The newest member of the resurrected Aquatimer family is the IWC Aquatimer Automatic from 2014. The Automatic is the most basic of all the Aquatimer models and features a date display and an internal/external SafeDive bezel system for timing dives. The dial design is contemporary and functional: Its huge hour markers are ideal for diving. The automatic IWC caliber 30120 powers this timepiece and boasts a 42-hour power reserve.
The standard Aquatimer Automatic comes with the choice of a black or white dial, both on a black rubber strap. Regardless of which dial you choose, this timepiece costs just over 6,200 USD.
IWC Portofino Automatic
The final watch on our list of three affordable IWC timepieces is the IWC Portofino Automatic. The Portofino collection was released 1984. Its design was inspired by that of the IWC Lépine pocket watch from the 1970s. The name “Portofino” is a nod to the elegant lifestyle in the beautiful Italian fishing village of Portofino. Even though the Portofino collection doesn’t have as rich a history as the Mark XVIII or the Aquatimer Automatic, it has become one of the most successful lines of IWC watches and is popular among both men and women.
The release of first IWC Portofino in 1984 marked the brand’s revival of its rich history of creating classic, round, and functional cases with the looks of a traditional pocket watch. Over the next two decades, IWC would introduce a series of Portofino watches that not only had classic designs but also contained technologically advanced movements. That brings us to the current Portofino collection from 2011 and, more specifically, the Portofino Automatic. This timepiece retains the same beautifully elegant and minimalist design many people have grown to love. It also houses the automatic IWC caliber 35111 with a 42-hour power reserve.
The watch is available with a black or silver dial. The latter comes in two varieties: one with steel hands and markers and the other with gold hands and markers. All three are worn using a black alligator leather strap, which only further emphasizes the feeling of classic elegance. This watch demands around 5,300 USD. That’s all it costs to buy a statement of luxury and elegance inspired by the good life in Portofino, Italy.
There you have it: three very different yet very recognizable IWC watches that sell for affordable prices. All three are brand icons. Now it’s up to you to decide what story and design best fit your own personal style. With these possibilities, the choice could be quite a tough one…