Why This Iwc Watch Is Worth $28k
From alligator Birkins to fine art, we sell an abundance of high-value luxury pieces at The RealReal. These items are the pinnacle of craftsmanship and quality materials, so naturally they carry a higher price tag. But what makes a watch worth $28,000 instead of, say, $2,000? We consulted Senior Director of Fine Jewelry & Watches, Michael Groffenberger, to evaluate one of our most high-end items: an IWC Big Pilot Watch originally priced at nearly $40,000. “The value of this IWC watch is in its movement and in its rarity,” says Groffenberger. “By owning one, you’re owning a piece of IWC history.” Here, he breaks down why it’s worth the investment.
1. It’s limited edition.
“They’re never going to make more than 500 of these watches,” notes Groffenberger. “Think of the number of collectors in the world, and there are only 500 to be had.” Of this number, Groffenberger estimates that the U.S. receives 6-10%. If you do the math, you start to understand why this watch is so covetable — with 50 U.S. states, it’s unlikely that each state received even one.
“We’ll always check the number on the side of the watch to verify the authenticity for a limited edition IWC watch like this,” says Groffenberger. “It should match the number on the watch’s paperwork and box.”
2. It’s a collector’s item.
The watch’s details — like the original Pilot dial and the fish insignia on the crown — are inspired by IWC’s history. “IWC tried to keep this watch historically accurate, while giving it a modern movement,” says Groffenberger. “For example, in WW2, they designed IWC watches with the big onion crown, so pilots could adjust the time with gloves on.”
As for the fish, it was originally on an IWC Pilot crown to show that the watch was water-resistant, but then IWC started using their ‘Probus Scafusia’ trademark (which means “good, solid craftsmanship from Schaffhausen”). “If you have an IWC Pilot watch without a fish crown, it doesn’t mean it’s not authentic — if the previous owner sent it for service, IWC likely replaced it with the more modern, ‘Probus Scafusia’ crown,” says Groffenberger. “But it does make the fish more of a collector’s item.”
3. It has a 7-day power reserve.
“The 7-day movement is something you can only find in the best IWC watches,” says Groffenberger. “You can’t touch a watch with a 7-day power reserve for less than $10k-$15k.” Not only is it a feature that saves you time from having to wind your watch more regularly, but it’s also an easy way to differentiate between real IWC watches and counterfeits.
“Wind it and pay attention to the way the hands move,” suggests Groffenberger. “If the power reserve is functioning, then it’s most likely authentic.”
4. It’s platinum.
While the 7-day power reserve and design contribute to the cost of the IWC Pilot watch, platinum is also a coveted commodity. “Tooling platinum is difficult,” says Groffenberger. “Not only do they have to polish the platinum case, they’re also going to wear out their tools 4-5x faster.” That difficulty level figures into the watch’s value. (Groffenberger notes the buckle alone is worth $4k-$5k.) It’s also a big differentiator between an IWC watch and an imitation. “It’s rare that a counterfeiter would make a watch that’s platinum, so we always do an acid test.”
Fine Jewelry & Watches Expert Team Lead, Adriana Krakowski, agrees: “If the IWC watch was made within the last 20 years in Switzerland, it will have the Swiss hallmark of a St. Bernard above the strap with a mark for platinum purity. But I test the metal regardless of its hallmarks, so I have quantifiable proof of the purity.”
With IWC craftmanship, every element counts. “We check the case edges to make sure they’re beveled to the proper angle, we verify that the hour markers are applied properly — we look for anything strange that you wouldn’t normally see on an IWC,” says Groffenberger. “It’s all in the details.”
Interested in IWC watches? Shop our selection on The RealReal, plus more coveted fine watches.
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