Cal. 853 Pellaton IWC Calatrava in Yellow Gold
Watches from IWC which predate their major sports lines are a bit under the radar today. This simple three-hander proves the point. Exquisite 35mm proportions, a restrained dial, vintage IWC script signature, alpha hands, competent automatic calibre . . .I could go on. Yet, little ink has been spilled on behalf of this period in IWC’s history. While they may not be as practical as an 812 Aquatimer or have the kind of lineage that a 666 Ingenieur started, these numerous dress offerings from zee Germans offer outsized value and elegance.
This 18k gold example underlines the elegant bit. The dial doubles this effort, with applied baton indices and minimal text. The 35mm case has aggressively downturned lugs and a slim crown, both of which I’m certain will mean an immensely comfortable wear. At 6, a simple ‘SWISS’ signature with no fuss on either side.
Under the skin here lies an early iteration of IWC’s ingenious Pellaton winding system. Albert Pellaton, IWC’s technical director in-era, engineered the calibre 853 to transfer power from a bi-directional rotor straight to the mainspring, much more efficient than other automatics of the time with their gear trains and often uni-directional winding. A handful of modern IWCs still utilize it. Most will be familiar with Pellaton calibres in the 666 Ingenieurs and 812 Aquatimers mentioned above. However, before the huge successes of either, a range of more discreet three-handers were offered. This is one such watch, a discreet sibling for those who don’t have anything to prove or the need to shout about themselves.
This example has a dial which has aged with a beautiful light eggshell spotting, not too much and not too little texture. Its case is full with hallmarks still visible on lug back. The inner caseback has a serial engraving and the watch was serviced in 2020. It comes from a well regarded Japanese retailer.
Find this Pellaton Calatrava here from Special Dial for ~1600 USD.