Genta-designed (likely, actually no one seems to know for certain) and Germanically-gorgeous, IWC’s Yacht Club II was something of an acquired taste. Released to defend Schaffhausen’s grounds at the outset of the quartz crisis, the model was available as an octagonal automatic or buzzing electric crystal. The quartz models sold at premium and, as this was decidedly a luxury Swiss watch, most sales leaned in that direction in period. All of which means that today, the automatic category of Yacht Club IIs are an elusive chase.
When I say elusive, the Yacht Club II is almost always found with a quartz calibre. This rare specimen was released alongside Genta’s work for the Ingenieur line, and intended to be a part of a future ‘Club series’, marketed toward hobbyist activities. There were to be Golf ‘Club’, Polo ‘Club’, and I’ve even heard talk of a Motor ‘Club’ which was never borne. These club watches would stand alongside Ingenieur, Aquatimer, and Portuguese professional pieces as sort of weekender alternatives. Complex brand strategy? Somewhat. And that’s before mentioning that these came in two metals (plus two-tone), two dials, two sizes, and two calibres each with its own reference. Unlike the Ingenieur, the Yacht Club II was designed to be worn on rubber with its integrated bracelet as an option. IWC had accidentally done an Aquanaut a good few decades early.
This 3211 marks it out as a Jumbo 38mm case, executed in steel. There are a few very elusive auto-jumbo gold pieces floating about, some more special than others like the 9109 Lapis for the Sultan of Oman. But it’s safe to say any auto Yacht Club II is a tough hunt, particularly the collectible large case. Unlike the smaller case which uses an ETA ebauché, this Jumbo variant utilized a base JLC 889. That is a top of the market ultra-thin, shock absorbing, ball-bearing rotor automatic. Unlike much of 70s IWC, scholarship on these pieces is quite scarce. They simply were not produced in large numbers and have only just re-entered collector zeitgeist. This is slowly changing and I’m glad to contribute here, if only to flag a bit of IWCs history which may be about to get much more popular.
This example is strong in every respect. It comes with the black rather than rhodium dial, including a gilt handset with tritium plots. The steel case is full with brushed and polished surfaces proud. There’s a lot of interesting layering on this case and it all appears quite well preserved here. The correct signed fish crown is a particular favorite of mine. It comes on a Hirsch rubber strap but with its original signed buckle as a naked watch from a well-regarded small retailer.
Find this Yacht Club II here from Watchurbia for 15900 EUR.