Books and Love can bend time, whereas Mankind is beholden, fortunately human-beings
can write books and make love, thus whilst we breathe we can master time.

Laurent Agneau
International Watch Company Literature - Three Books
Ratskunk - September 2001

Books are wonderful things, they relate our history, foretell our future and serve as companions in the present. If you are a book lover, as I am, and appreciate the International Watch Company and their timepieces, then I am confident that you will enjoy greatly the three IWC books: Toelke and King: IWC International Watch Company, Manfred Fritz: The Grand Complication and Reinhard Meis: IWC-Uhren Die Schaffhauser Und Ihre Geschichte.

Whether you are a long-time owner of a 19th century Jones Calibre, a vintage Mark owner, the owner of a 21st century GST Perpetual Calendar or just IWC window-shopping, there is something to be learned, discovered and enjoyed for all watch lovers in these books.
Pocket-Watch Jones Calibre
ca. 1870
Mark XI Pilot's Watch
ca. 1948
GST Perpetual Calendar
Ref. 3756 - ca. 2001
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Me and IWC

My IWC watches are the Portuguese Automatic Chronograph Ref. 3714 and the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Ref. 3750, both in stainless steel. I could easily displace the main subject of this article - the books - with praise for these timepieces, but I shall defer the accolades to a future review - suffice to say: they are wonderful watches.  I am also fond of IWC pocketwatches - IWC pocketwatches represent the art, technology and history of the International Watch Company - below is pictured a Calibre 77 from my quite small collection.

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Portuguese on Picasso Da Vinci on Pollock
Cal. 77 Dial View Cal. 77 Movement View
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Back to the Books

Although the total cost of all three books is not a trivial amount of money, more than likely one book will represent a fraction of what we spend on a IWC watch. I have purposely listed  the three books in the manner that if you only want to invest in one book then get the first, invest in two then get the first and second and if you are insane get all three - please note that this order is just my preference.

Some sleuthing may be required to locate these books, but a call to IWC-USA / IWC-Schaffhausen and a post on the official IWC Collectors Forum located on the IWC website or the TimeZone IWC Forum should yield good results.

For each of the three books I have included some scans (taken directly, albeit cruelly edited, from the books) to hopefully provide some flavor of the books to readers that are not familiar with them.

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Hans-F Toelke and Juergen King, IWC International Watch Co.
Published by Verlag Ineichen Zurich 1987 -  238 pages -  ISBN 3-906500-15-2
Depending on the source the English version ranges from U.S. $170 - U.S. $200

The wonderful cover of this book alone is worth the cost but only hints at the treasures contained within; centering on the pocket-watch, although featuring a section on wrist-watches, Toelke and King trace the history of IWC from Florentine Ariosto Jones' arrival in Schaffhausen to the quartz era. The first five chapters focus on IWC's early history, with subsequent chapters detailing the Jones Calibre, patented construction details such as pendant winding and the centre seconds hand, the Pallweber pocket-watch and the IWC automatic movement.

There are five illustrated sections highlighting the Jones and Seeland movements; the Pallweber; decorated cases and complicated watches; wrist-watches and dress watches and lastly a pictoral section on movements.

The back of the book contains a listing of movement serial numbers, calibres and production dates from 1885 to 1974. This is a quite useful resource for researching IWC watches. For example, if your movement number is 129 003 then referring to the movement table will tell you that your timepiece is a calibre 52 Lepine (open-face) 19 ligne 1894 model pocket-watch produced in 1895.
Jones Calibre (Lepine)
p. 73
p. 118
Jones Calibre (Hunter)
p. 74
Moon Phase Calibre 9721
p. 175
Calibre 63
p. 148
Calibre 9721
p. 177
Simple Calendar Calibre 9721
p. 176
Ingenieur Calibre 9520
p. 184
Manfred Fritz, The Grande Complication
Published by Edition Stemmle Schaffhausen 1990 - 240 pages - ISBN 3-7231-0437-1
Ordered directly from IWC-USA U.S. $125 available in German, Italian and English.

Opposed to the fanciful cover of the Toelke and King book, the cover of the Fritz book is all business.  As its title suggests, The Grande Complication is centered on the development and execution of the IWC Grande Complication, currently IWC Ref. 3770 (18 ct. or platinum on leather strap) and Ref. 9270 (platinum on platinum bracelet).

A tour de force of mechanical engineering the Grande Complication is made up of 659 parts and has the following functions: Chronograph, Minute Repeater, Perpetual Calendar, Four-Digit Year Display, Perpetual Moon Phase Display, Day-Month Display,  the calendar being mechanically programmed for the next 500 years.

But The Grande Complication is more than the mechanics inside the watch, it is about the company inside the watch, it tells the tale of a single watch within the historical context of the International Watch Company from its beginings in 1868 to the modern era. Though one-hundred pages are wholly dedicated to the technical details of the Grande Complication, the remaining hundred-plus pages discuss the philosophy, processes and people that are part and parcel of all IWC timepieces.

Sections in the book include: Florentine Ariosto Jones; a showcase of IWC's finest watches; technical chapters on the chronograph, minute repeater, perpetual calendar and the basic movement Cal. 79091; the Grande Complication team of watchmakers and much more.
Two fold-out supplements (the books refers to them as plates) are included with the book: Plate A is the minute repeater and Plate B is the perpetual calendar. These plates, or diagrams, display each of the above mechanisms and label their parts.
Chapter I
The Superlative
Chapter II
Who was Mister Jones?
Chapter III
The Challenge
Chapter IV
The Watchmakers from Schaffhausen
Chapter V
Technology Writ Large - and Small
Chapter VI
Behind the Scenes
* Please note the Manfred Fritz is also the author of "Reverso, The Living legend" - ISBN 3-89466-034-1.
Reinhard Meis, IWC-Uhren Die Schaffhauser und ihre Geschichte
Published by Carinthia 1985 (German edition only) - 168 pages
Ordered directly from IWC-Schaffhausen CHF 75-

A joy of a book. IWC-Uhren is available only in German, but this should not dissuade one from obtaining the book - the watches speak for themselves. As with the Toelke and King book, IWC-Uhren concerns itself mainly with pocket-watches, though there is an addendum, which has some wrist-watches, namely Porsche-Design watches such as the Ref. 3330 Ultra Sportivo and the Ref. 3700 Titan-Chronograph.

The preface,  is devoted to IWC history from F.A. Jones through Hans Ernst Homberger. Interesting in this section are the 19th century IWC trademarks - two of which are illustrated below.

The chapters: Die šlteren Kaliber 1-51 (the earlier calibres), Die neueren Kaliber 52-98/982 (the later calibres), Die Gehaeusedekorationen, Schuetzenuhren and Dienst- und Beobachtungsuhren illustrate a parade of IWC pocket-watches and their movements including the Jones and Seeland calibres; calibres 52, 65, 73, 82, 97 and more; decorated pocket-watch cases; Shooters and Scorers watches; and Service and Observation watches.

As IWC-Uhren is graced by well over one-hundred pictures of historical images, pocket-watches, wrist-watches and their movements, it would take great restraint not to love this book.
ca. 1888   p. 21 ca. 1890   p. 21 Large Wrist-Watch p. 157
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Calibre 52 - p. 67 Ref Einzeiger-Taschenuhr p. 151 Pocket-Watch p. 102

Your International Watch Company timepiece tells you the minutes and hours, maybe the day, maybe even the phase of the moon, but Toelke and King, Fritz and Meis provide you the provenience and heritage of the wrist-watch on your wrist or the pocket-watch in your pocket, they connect you to the philosophy and the process of manufacture, the genius of the persons behind the watchmaker's bench and on a rainy day they are just plain fun to look at. After reading these books, one cannot help but to appreciate their IWC timepiece just a little more with the knowledge that glancing down at the present time spans more than a century of history and in a split-second you have traveled from 1868 to the 21st century.

Factory Building of the International Watch Company - Toelke and King
Appreciation to the following persons:
Michael Friedberg for his editorial assistance and kind comments.
Norbert Huebner for his German language assistance.
Antonio Marcone for editing my Portuguese scan.