Just a few kilometres upstream from Rhine Falls in Schaffhausen, IWC watches are forged from initial pencils sketches to exquisite life-long timekeeping companions. Pioneers, adventure-seekers and members of elite watch-collecting circles have been enjoying these exquisite wristwatches for centuries. IWC Schaffhausen crafts its timepieces using benchmark-setting standards and now celebrates over 150 years of successfully tracking seconds, minutes, hours and months in the form of elegant dress watches, sophisticated complications and professional pilot’s watches.
The story behind IWC watches started in 1868 when an American engineer and watchmaker travelled to Switzerland and founded the “International Watch Company”. He intended to make watch parts for the American market, but that all changed when he met with watchmaker Johann Heinrich Moser and continued to build on the company, drawing expertise from eminently skilled craftsmen from all over Switzerland. The company was then passed through the hands of the Rauschenbach family before it was taken over by Schaffhausen industrialist, Ernst Jakob Homberger. After World War II Albert Pellaton, who become Technical Director at IWC Schaffhausen, created the remarkably accurate Calibre 89 – a prominent time within IWC Schaffhausen’s watchmaking heritage. It included a soft-iron inner case which provided the movement with superb protection from damage caused by magnetic fields. Other inventions included the pawl-winding system which soon found fame as the Pellaton winding system.
Before this, however, the 1930s put IWC Schaffhausen on the map for creating indispensable tools for the aviation industry. In 1940 the Big Pilot watch came along and towards the end of this decade – the Mark 11, armoured with the brand’s renowned anti-magnetic field.
The 1950’s introduced the Ingenieur model with an advanced winding system, a simple dial and striking hands. Today these wristwatches are crafted from innovative materials that include ceramic and titanium, demonstrating the company’s advancements in material research and development. The IWC Yacht Club sums up the 1960’s. These models grew in popularity in time for the luxury steel sports era, which saw designs like the 200-meter water-resistant Aquatimer skyrocket.
During the quartz crisis, the IWC Da Vinci rescued the company from one of the most turbulent times in the history of the Swiss watch industry. By avoiding heavy investment in technology, the Da Vinci was a popularised model that answered the need of those desiring a reliable and self-sufficient timepiece.
Scroll to the 1970s and IWC’s first titanium watch was developed, as was a sophisticated bracelet system that used a solid pin, held inside each bracelet link by a push button lock. The design enabled the pin to be locked regardless of how much damage it was subject to for improved robustness and wearability. Today, some of the best pilot’s watches are found in IWC’s compelling catalogue of expertly crafted wristwatches namely the Spitfire and Top Gun models. The Portugieser watch is another popular collectable, based on the design of a hunter pocket watch calibre.
Whether a fan of the purist’s Portofino watch or the rugged aesthetics of the IWC Aquatimer diving tool – each collection from this Swiss watch manufacturer enjoys a cult-like status, with enthusiasts from all over the world seeking out novelties old and new made by this profound technical innovator.