Roaring masses of water plunge over the gigantic rocks that are the world-famous Rhine Falls. A few kilometres upstream, in Schaffhausen, the Rhine glides at a more leisurely pace past the workshop windows at IWC. Here, more than 150 years ago, a company began a story that is still being written today.
At the tender age of 27, American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones had been deputy director and manager with the E. Howard Watch and Clock Co. in Boston, then a leading American watchmaker. At a time when most young men were trying their luck in the west, Jones went in the opposite direction. True to his adventurous pioneering spirit, he planned to combine the outstanding craftsmanship of the Swiss with modern engineering technology from overseas. Unfortunately, his business plan met with unconcealed scepticism from the skilled workers in the Geneva region and the remote valleys of western Switzerland.
THE EARLY YEARS
The heritage of IWC is deeply rooted in American pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship. Florentine Ariosto Jones, a watchmaker from Boston, founds the International Watch Company in 1868. He draws on the help of eminently qualified Swiss watchmakers, modern technology, and hydropower sourced from the nearby River Rhine to manufacture pocket watch movements of the highest possible quality. The Rauschenbachs, an industrialist family from Schaffhausen, take over the company following Jones’ return to the United States. During its early years, IWC produces pocket watches with a digital “Pallweber” display, as well as wristwatches for women and men.
Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841-1916), a watchmaker from Boston, Massachusetts, founds the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen. His aim: to produce high- quality pocket watches for the American market.
Construction of new premises and the current headquarters of IWC on the banks of the River Rhine. IWC has 196 employees.
Schaffhausen engine manufacturer Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel (1815-1881) acquires IWC.
Following the death of his father, Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk (1856-1905) takes over the helm at IWC.
Innovation: the first watches with a digital hours and minutes display (Pallweber system) leave the workshops in Schaffhausen.
Manufacture of the Magique, a pocket watch in a cabriolet case with a 24-hour display that can be used either as a hunter or an open-face pocket watch.
One of the first known wristwatches leaves Schaffhausen destined for the market. The company's small 64-calibre ladies' pocket watch movement is housed in a dainty case fitted with lugs for the wristband. The 63-calibre ladies' pocket watch movement is used for other wristwatches.
Emma Marie Rauschenbach (1882-1955), daughter of Johannes Rauschenbach, marries psychologist and psychiatrist Dr. Carl Gustav (C. G.) Jung (1875-1961). Her younger sister Bertha Margaretha marries Schaffhausen industrialist Ernst Jakob Homberger (1869-1955) the same year.
THE ERNST JAKOB HOMBERGER ERA
Following the death of Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk, Schaffhausen industrialist Ernst Jakob Homberger takes over the company. This era sees the birth of two watch families which are still true icons to this day. The first “Spezialuhr für Flieger” establishes the tradition of producing Pilot’s Watches in Schaffhausen, which, thanks to their unmistakable design, are still popular across the world today. As Portuguese importers order a series of large wristwatches with high-precision pocket watch calibres, the first Portugieser model leaves IWC’s workshops.
Following the death of Johannes Rauschenbach, Ernst Jakob Homberger takes over the management of IWC on behalf of Rauschenbach's heirs.
Two newly developed calibres, the 75 (without seconds) and the 76 calibre (with small seconds), are the first movements designed by IWC specifically for wristwatches.
Ernst Jakob Homberger acquires the holding of his brother-in-law C.G. Jung and becomes the sole owner of IWC.
IWC creates elegant, rectangular watches that contain the newly designed, tonneau-shaped 87 calibre.
IWC's first “Special Pilot's Watch“ is launched. It features a rotating bezel with an arrowhead index that can be used to register take-off times. It is also fitted with an antimagnetic escapement.
The birth of the Portuguese watch: two importers from Portugal order a series of large wristwatches with high-precision pocket watch calibres.
In response to demand, IWC develops the Big Pilot's Watch 52 T. S. C. with a central seconds hand.
ALBERT PELLATON JOINS IWC
The post-war years are characterized by the increased use of technology in people’s everyday lives. More and more appliances create magnetic fields which can negatively impact the accuracy of mechanical watches. It is during this time that Albert Pellaton becomes Technical Director at IWC Schaffhausen. Among his inventions are the extremely accurate 89 calibre, or the soft-iron inner case, which protects watch movements against magnetic fields. He also develops a particularly efficient bidirectional pawl-winding system, which shoots to fame as the Pellaton winding system.
The 85 calibre, designed by Albert Pellaton, features IWC's first automatic winding mechanism. The innovative pawl-winding system replaces the traditional reciprocal gearing and, at this time, is a patented proprietary development by IWC.
HANS ERNST HOMBERGER TAKES OVER
In the same year that Hans Ernst Homberger takes over at IWC, the first Ingenieur is launched. Its simple round design has since returned and become a distinctive feature of this sporty and elegant watch family. A few years later, IWC launches the first Aquatimer, and with it writes the first chapter in a success story of diver’s watches from Schaffhausen that continues to this day. The company also plays a key role in developing the first ever Swiss-made quartz movement “Beta 21”, which premieres in the first Da Vinci with a distinctive hexagonal gold case.
Hans Ernst Homberger becomes the company's last private owner. The launch of the Ingenieur with automatic winding.
THE VDO ADOLF SCHINDLING ERA
At the peak of the quartz crisis, IWC deliberately focuses on creating masterpieces of watchmaking art. With the world’s first watch case made from titanium, IWC lays the foundation for its unparalleled expertise in the area of materials. In the mid-1980s, the perpetual calendar from Kurt Klaus makes its debut in the Da Vinci family. Following seven years of development, IWC launches its first Grande Complication, and reaches the pinnacle of haute horlogerie. To mark its 125th anniversary, IWC unveils what is then the world’s most complicated mechanical wristwatch: Il Destriero Scafusia.
THE RICHEMONT ERA
After IWC becomes a part of Richemont, the company continuously expands its six watch families with precision engineering and exclusive design. In the Portugieser line, a double moon display is added to the perpetual calendar, while this mechanism features a digital display for the date and month for the first time in the Da Vinci family. IWC introduces the external/internal rotating bezel for the Aquatimer and launches its first watch with a bronze case. The Annual Calendar complication shows the month, date and day in the format used in the U.S. – a tribute to the company’s American founder.
Günter Blümlein (1943-2001), amongst other things Chairman of the Board of Directors at IWC, was an outstanding personality who had a decisive influence on the company's development."
Tweed.co is a brand founded in 2017 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland, by two watch designers who had worked together for many years for some of the most well-known houses in Swiss watchmaking and jewelry. The pair is supported by a team of creators, engineers, graphic designers and communications specialists, who are fully involved in producing all the accessories the house offers.