Calibre 77

Considered by some collectors as among the best looking of IWC movements, this Calibre is found somewhat infrequently. Only 10,500 examples of this “finger bridge” movement were produced between 1917 and 1921. Most of these were made for the U.S. market and have U.S.-made Cresarrow cases.

The Calibre 77 came in 16, 17, 19, 21 and 23 jewel versions; the later ones represent unusually high jewelling for IWC, although no 23-jewel example has been found today. The movement is relatively thin at 4.3 mm in height, and like Calibres 73 and 74 it has a diameter of 38 mm (16 3/4 ligne). It also beat at 18,000 vph and had a bimetallic balance with screws.

Despite similar specifics to its predecessors, Calibre 77 represented a departure for IWC. Unlike IWC’s three-quarter plate movements and its prior finger bridge ones which have brass bridges and cocks, the Calibre 77 uses nickel finishing. The earlier IWC movements generally had undecorated plates and bridges, but the Calibre 77 usually was finished with Geneva stripes and was more highly jeweled that its predecessors.

Given all these changes and the fact that most Calibre 77 watches were cased, and then sold, in the United States, it can be speculated that this fancier movement was designed to compete in a different market.

This is a classic example of a Calibre 77 watch with a fancy “Cresarrow” case from the United States, and a Schaffhausen-made Calibre 77 movement. The movement has 19 jewels, rhodium plating, Geneva stripes –all departures from the undecorated brass plates and 16 jewels of most earlier IWC movements. The case has a Grecian motif, with intricate details that are enamel filled, and the stylized dial reflects an early Art Deco influence.

This Calibre 77 watch is an exception to the norm. It has a very rare shaped case with elaborate details. The movement, although 19 jewels, has undecorated plates in comparison to the first example. This watch was produced in Schaffhausen, as indicated by the “Probus Scafusia” stamp on the inside case back (not shown here). It is rumored that only about 600 Calibre 77 watches were cased in Switzerland, with most or all of the others being cased in the United States.

As mentioned, most Calibre 77 pocket watches were sold in the United States with cases by Cressarrow, supplied by the U.S. distributor Henry Blank & Co. When casing-up the watches, dials were supplied also, and they differed frequently from those used by IWC Schaffhausen. In the United States, the watches were often marketed as “International” , with a different font, and this Calibre 77 example reflects such a dial.

Shown here is another rare Schaffhausen-cased Calibre 77 in silver, with a typical fancy case and movement decorated with Geneva stripes. It was sold by the retailer Freccero in Montevideo, Uruguay. In many respects, the case, dial, hands and movement contrast with the U.S. cased “International” shown above.