International Watch “Detective”

1941 International Watch Co. in 14ct Gold.

Interesting 1941/2 IWC with it’s elegant Calibre 83, 6 bridge-design movement, 14k gold cased Gents watch.  After some investigation it is in a 14kt Gold case, possibly supplied to or produced in Hungary during the war as it shows the Hungarian Assay mark for 14kt Gold (580/1000) – this is a stamped left facing Wolf’s head + the number 4.  This stamp is repeated on the right hand top lug exterior.

The watch is in excellent condition both due to it’s age and considering the time it may have been produced as WW11 raged across Europe.  My detective work will not be fully complete until I can determine the Case Maker/Sponsor mark but it’s certainly intriguing.
The IWC Cal 83 was produced between 1939 and the early 1940’s and regarded as a transitional movement between the pocket watch and the wrist watch.  I also note that this case style has straight sides and straight thin lugs and appears to have precedent as it’s reminiscent of No 58 and some others in IWC’s 1941/2 Blue Catalog.  Within this catalog it is obvious when comparing the available model there were a few “mix & match” combinations of dial layouts and case designs over this period.  This watch case could also be an IWC design imported into Hungary for separate metal assessment and subsequent matching to the movement.  However this is conjecture and more detective work may be needed.

Brushed 14ct Gold sided case with polished bezel and curved snap on back

Note the Hallmarked 14k gold symbol on the top lug and the large “onion” crown.  Gold hands and seconds sub-dial on what may be a very well preserved original dial – as there are a few small spots on the dial background but only noticeable under magnification.  The case diameter is almost 33 mm without the Crown, so larger than many at the time and I’m very pleased that it wears “larger” and looks good on my average wrist.

Lovely Cal. 83 manual wind signed International Watch Co movement, showing little signs of age.

The strap is a high quality water resistant Hirsch leather 18mm to fixed wire fittings between lugs which were common at the time.  No spring bars here and replacements straps must be open ended types to fit.  Note the nicely decorated case back interior which has case number, case makers mark, service marks and the 14k gold mark of Hungary.  The movement looks in great condition and shows virtually no signs of wear which is always a bonus.  Regarding the strap I personally feel the color doesn’t show the watch to best advantage so I’m considering changing this for a black lizard – see last image.

Note In keeping with the servicing tradition of watchmakers throughout the world, there are marks on the inside of the case which would appear to indicate it was serviced in December 1962 and again in November 1976. (there may be an earlier one but it’s too indistinct to read).  Considering manufacturers of mechanical watches tend to recommend servicing every 3 years I suppose it’s not too bad!

1941/2 International Watch Company Cal.83 to 14kt Case

1941/2 International Watch Company Cal.83 in 14kt Case and lizard strap.

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3 thoughts on “International Watch “Detective”

  1. Thanks for this interesting post! I was wondering whether you had any further luck identifying the case maker. I ask because I have an IWC with a Cal. 62 movement from 1941 which was almost certainly purchased in Hungary (it was my grandfather’s and that is where he was living in the 1940s). The case also has the wolf’s head mark as well as a mark that looks like “ML” and a number (99444) which does not correspond to an IWC case number. I’ve been trying to find out more about it, but without success so far.

    • Hi,
      Very difficult to find out information on imported watches/cases during the war period. In fact it’s tricky enough in non war periods with Swiss watches. The case marks could well have a “sponsor” mark as opposed to a Case Maker’s mark and without records almost impossible today to find out any definitive data. In the case of my own watch, I didn’t manage to progress any further and had to accept it is what it is and a testament to some watch retailer still managing despite the odds to continue in business! If the case number doesn’t feature with IWC, then it’s probable it is a Hungarian case suited to fit the movement (probably the same situation with my own watch). Unfortunately I’ve found no listing anywhere of Hungarian Makers and believe me I tried. I had to accept a degree of success with the Wolf’s head mark, which took some finding I can tell you.
      Sorry for the negative reply, but like many watch investigations, the records, if any, are long gone. Which is why old catalogs and sometimes even old watchmakers shop rubbish can be surprisingly productive – but even these have almost dried up. I wish you luck. . . . .

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