Calibre 56, sometimes known as the “Schaffhausen” calibre, was a Savonette movement (with the winding mechanism and therefore the crown at 3 o’clock). It was first manufactured in 1889, a year after the debut of Calibres 52 and 53. Initially, this movement was paired with the Calibre 57, a Lépine version that was introduced in 1890.
Another Savonette movement of similar design, Calibre 58, was introduced in 1889. That calibre, too, subsequently was paired with Calibre 57. Both Calibres 57 and 58 were known as “Americaine” calibres, for reasons not known today.
Calibre 57 in many ways was a less expensive Calibre 52. Both used a three-quarter plate design, had identical size variations, and most parts were interchangeable. While watches with the Calibre 57 movement were priced less than those with a Calibre 52, the Calibre 57 still was an excellent movement. It had a bimetallic balance, a Breguet overcoil, and either classic lever or fine adjustment. 119,430 were made from 1890 to 1931; in addition, 19,100 Calibre 58s were produced.
Shown here is a typical Calibre 57 Lépine watch. It has a less expensive gold-filled case, and a classic dial with Breguet style numerals and hands. Also note the engraved dust cover, showing IWC’s Grand Prix award from the 1906 Milan exposition, Esposizione Internazionale del Sempione. The engraving reflects marketing and does not make the watch more special than other IWC models.