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IWC Steel Calatrava Cal. 83 w/ Articulated Lugs

IWC needs no introduction to watch enthusiasts. However, while the brand’s contemporary success and popular modern offerings are a perpetually hot ticket, they have an incredibly rich history that’s loaded with unexpected, innovative, and unique designs.

In this episode of our series Under the Radar, Craft + Tailored’s in-house obscurity obsessive, Tyler Vanes, takes a good look at an enchanting example of IWC’s innovative past, a pre-MCM Calatrava model rendered in steel that features both the brand’s important Cal. 83 movement and a clever articulated lug design. 

While the unique lug design and this watch’s handsome dial are the first things you’ll notice, it’s the movement this watch packs that’s a real point of interest for many horology and watch history nerds. The Cal. 83 is the movement that transitioned IWC from pocket watches to wristwatches and is the lesser-known, but highly influential manual-wind in-house movement that IWC debuted in 1939. Much like the more well-documented Cal. 89, the Cal. 83 was used in dress pieces and an incabloc was created for the military Mark X watch, and really helped to shape the future of IWC’s designs.

Visually, this fascinating model features a case that was considered quite oversized for its time at 35mm, but its elongated and articulating lugs make it feel and wear more like a 40mm watch, but one with an incredibly ergonomic fit around the wrist. It’s an unconventional and attractive design that would only come from this era, and offers all the charm of a pre-’50s watch – especially with the silver dial’s beautiful black Breguet numerals – but with a wrist presence that will satisfy those accustomed to modern watches, or those looking for a vintage look to fit a large wrist. Between it’s unexpected combination of visual traits, the important horological history its movement packs, and its heritage as an IWC, this watch is truly a sleeper and worthy of its “under the radar” designation. 

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