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IWC and the Golf Club SL Mystery

Le 21 June 2016

Between 1965 and 1985, IWC wanted to create a “subdivision” of its Yacht Club collection, called SL, for a reason still unknown. Multiple ranges and models were inspired by the Yacht Club ref. (1) 811 A/AD (to be precise). Today there are now 7 Yacht Club “subdivisions”: the IWC Vintage as well as the Portugaise, Da Vinci, Portofino, Aquatimer, Ingenieur and finally the Pilot watches.

IWC Golf club SL Lifestyle

A little anecdote…

Launched in 1965, the Golf-Club SL… didn’t have a name! In the catalogues, people could only find it under its reference, 1931. In 1975 it was finally renamed the Polo-Club SL along with its sister !

But back to our watch of the day: from a purely commercial point of view, a few of the SL collections were flops… Which makes them even more desirable today ! Only around a thousand Golf Club timepieces were sold.


The Golf Club SL is the only IWC model whose reference number is engraved on the edge of the handles instead of inside the caseback, where it is usually found.


Different models of the 34mm version existed: either with a C.8541B or C.854B caliber, with or without the date window and with two possible dials, either brushed silver or polished black. Many options for a small-sized watch with a big personality.

Who would wear this watch ?

The watch dial has many classical inspirations, with its indexes and watch hands somewhere between a stick and dagger design (everything is original with this watch!). But with the classic look also comes a discreet but present sporty side with the Luminova of those same indexes and watch hands, along with the cushion-shaped steel case. And it’s that sportiness that lets you try out many different styles with this model… Be it on the wrist of a glass blower who has just inherited his grandfather’s shop along with his watch, entering into the glass-maker world and all the meticulousness and knowhow that is required, or on the wrist of your best friend’s father who always seemed cold and a tad too classic, until the day when you discovered his watch, and you understood that he may not be exactly who you think he is…

A mystery is still lingering…

What does SL stand for ? The answer remains unknown to this day, as no IWC paper trail has explained it. Certain theories claim that it’s the acronym for Sports Line or for Steel Line, as the first versions of the Polo Club SL and the Golf Club SL were mounted on handmade steel bracelets.

And that’s far from the only mystery of this watch… An urban legend claims that the Golf Club SL was also conceived by a certain Gérald Genta. Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer… Let the speculation continue…

IWC Golf club sl watch wine

Technical characteristics:

  • Movement: 8541 mechanical caliber, automatic winding
  • Rotations/h: 19,800
  • Size: 34mm
  • Glass and caseback: sapphire
  • Case: stainless steel
  • Dial: satinated rhodium

Watch hands: T-shaped stick with luminescent matter