IWC vs. Rolex: How to Make the Right Choice

IWC vs. Rolex: The Founding

Hans Wilsdorf founded Rolex in 1905. By this time IWC, short for International Watch Company, had already been through three brilliant hands in its first three decades of business. Yet, despite the flux in leadership, IWC remained steadfast in their commitment to the highest quality standards. This was a stark contrast to Rolex, whose fearless founder led the brand until his death. Although IWC and Rolex have followed very different paths in the field of watchmaking, that commitment is what they share.

IWC vs. Rolex: An IWC Big Pilot

IWC was founded in 1868, and everything about the brand was unconventional for the time. It established offices in eastern as opposed to western Switzerland where other manufacturers resided. IWC is Swiss watch company; however, Florentine Ariosto Jones, an American, founded it. He saw an opportunity to integrate the classic Swiss watchmaking style with American engineering techniques he learned working with Howard & Co., one of the leading watchmakers in America. People began to take note of IWC’s watches, then, Jones abruptly sold the company and returned to America.

1905 and the Early Years

1905 was a significant year for both Rolex and IWC. Rolex had its start that year, and IWC named its fourth leader, Ernst Jakob Homberger. In the years to follow, both brands focused on the creation of movements for wristwatches. Rolex’s efforts quickly paid off with the development of the first wristwatch to be certified as a chronometer in 1910, and IWC developed their first two calibers in 1915, the 75 without seconds and the 76 with small seconds.

During the mid-1900’s, both brands unveiled what have come to be some of their most iconic models. IWC debuted the first Portuguese in 1939, the Big Pilot’s Watch the following year in 1940, and later the Aquatimer in 1967. Rolex released the first Datejust in 1945, followed by the Submariner in 1953, the GMT Master just a year later in 1954, and finally the Day-Date in 1956.

IWC vs. Rolex: A Rolex Submariner

The 1960’s were a key time for the watch industry as a whole and these watch brands. Rolex lost their beloved founder Hans Wilsdorf in 1960, and the decade marked the dawn of the quartz crisis. IWC contributed to the development of the Beta 21 quartz movement, debuting it in a model called the Da Vinci. Rolex began to use quartz movements in some of their Oyster models. However, they remained steadfast in their production of automatic movements as well.

The Recent Years

In more recent years, both brands have continued to dominate the industry. They have accomplished this by producing some of the finest wristwatches on the market. IWC has a reputation for maintaining a strict hold on its operations and procedures. They keep records of each and every watch that leave the factory and allow customers to contact them for further information on their timepieces. In addition to engineering some of the highest caliber watches, Rolex has also focused on carving out its place in sports and pop-culture. They cultivate high-profile partnerships across a range of industries, keeping them relevant. Rolex and IWX are distinctly different. However, they are tied by the common thread of a deep commitment to the tradition of fine watchmaking.

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Caitlyn is the founder of Grey Ghost, a New York City-based boutique content marketing agency with a passion for artists, entrepreneurs, small businesses, and startups. She believes in quality over quantity, creative thinking, and, above all, using language as powerful tool to build lasting connections.

Latest comments
  • I owned Rolex deep sea Dweller and IWC Perpetual watch time keeping of IWC was much better than rolex. Rolex gained about 5 minutes or more every month where as iwc stayed pretty much accurate

  • I think this is a good reading, two iconic brands that ARE.very diferent, but I am more iwc

  • For 80 years the IWC PORTUGUESEr models have set the standard in simplicity and elegance. By contrast, the rolex submariner line, including even the DAYTONa, is clunky and of so nuveau.

  • My head says Rolex for resale value, because there is a bigger market out there for used Rolex, due to their massive marketing.

    my heart says IWC and as i once read, “You buy a Rolex to impress your car salesman. You buy an IWC to impress your watch maker.”