IWC Borgel (1916)

This is an 18 carat gold Borgel-cased International Watch Company watch dating to around 1916, making it exactly 100 years old. The Borgel company produced a special type of case without a case back - instead the movement is fitted into a threaded carrier ring, which screws into the case. This affords much improved protection against the elements and especially against water getting into the case and damaging the movmement.

The watch was made by the famous Swiss manufacturer IWC, it’s powered by their excellent calibre 64 movement which was probably the finest machine-made movement manufactured at this time. The construction and finishing are superb - the steel work in particular has all the sharp edges broken and polished to the highest standards. The time keeping in turn is excellent, certainly better than any other watch I’ve worked on from this period.

The hallmark on the case dates the watch to 1915/16 (“U”), right at the height of the first world war. All early watches from this period tend to be referred to as “trench watches” irrespective of any military provenance. However in this case there is an intriguing engraving on the back of the case, which des point to probable ownership by a soldier: The engraving reads “NB In memory of his Godfather Col. Abbot Robinson”, so one can assume that Col. Abbot Robinson was the original owner of this watch.

There is a small amount of information available about Col. A. H. Robinson - he was an officer in the Leicester Yeomanry and acted as commanding officer for a year from 1915 - 16. Certainly this would be an interesting starting point for further research into the watch’s history (the referenced I could find are here:

The watch has been fully serviced and adjusted, it’s running very well and keeping good time (within about 10 seconds per day, which is superb for a watch this old). The case has been cleaned, but as with all out vintage watches we have left it unpolished, the case has the usual marks of wear. I have left the existing strap with the watch - it’s certainly still serviceable and to my mind looks better with the watch than a modern strap would. The watch comes with our standard 12 month guarantee.

Please see vintage watch care advice here.


Case diameter: 32mm
Case material: 18 carat gold
Strap width: 12mm
Time keeping: grade A

Related Items