The “International Watch Co.” (IWC) is the first and only brand of watches to be manufactured in north-eastern Switzerland, in the city of Schaffhausen. It was in this town that in 1868, the American engineer Florentine Ariosto Jones established a watch factory to supply the USA with timepieces. In 1850, he met the industrialist Johann Heinrich Moser, who became his company partner. .
In 1880, Johann Rauschenbach-Vogel took over the “Internationale Uhrenfabrik”, marking the beginning of the story of the International Watch Co. Only one year later, Rauschenbach died and his 25-year-old son took over the reigns of the company until 1905. Despite his short period with the company Johann Vogel played an important role as technical director and also designed the IWC calibres that were to be used until 1919.
The company was protected from being passed into the hands of the others by Urs Haenggi, a man in service with the company for over fifty years and who saw his job as “in the interest of the noble Rauschenbach family”.
At the beginning of the 20th century, IWC added the phrase “Probus Scafusia” to its watches. This acted as extra verification that the timepiece was a product of craftsmanship in Schaffhausen. Since 1903, this motto has come to represent the commitment of the brand to only producing timepieces of the highest quality.
In 1936, the IWC “Spezialuhr für Flieger” was founded, also known as IWC “Mark IX”. The first IWC watch was made for pilots but, in 1938, the demand from the Portuguese market for a large precision wristwatch led the company to release the “IWC Portuguese”.
During WWII, the city of Schaffhausen was mistakenly bombed by the American Air force. The IWC factory was also hit by a bomb, that luckily failed to detonate.
From 1955 to 1986, Hans Ernst Homberger took over the reins of the IWC; the third and last of the Rauschenbach heirs.
In 1955, the IWC Ingenieur was created; the first automatic wristwatch with a soft-iron inner case.
The 1970s and 1980s were a time of great change in the Swiss watchmaking industry, as it under went a period of fast technological advances (miniaturized electric batteries, invention of the transistor). The IWC took advantage of this wave of innovation by becoming financially involved in the development of the Beta 21 Quartz wristwatch movement. The final creation was presented to the public at the 1969 Industrial Fair in Basel.
Collaboration between the IWC and Designer F.A. Porsche began in 1978, and marked the launch of the first IWC watch compass. Following this, titanium was introduced as a material for use in watches and cases.
In 1985, the first perpetual calendar was introduced, marked by the release of the “IWC Da Vinci”. Five years later, in 1990, the first IWC Great Complication wristwatch with perpetual calendar, chronograph and minute repeating mechanism was launched.
Three years later, the “Destriero” was released to mark the 125th anniversary of the IWC in an edition limited to only 125 pieces.
In the new millennium the IWC introduced the 5000 calibre, a new automatic mechanical movement, fitted into the limited edition Portuguese Automatic.
Following this, the IWC produced the Portuguese Perpetual Calendar and the Aquatimer (the first of a new generation of divers’ watches) as well as re-launching the “Ingenieur” collection in partnership with Mercedes AMG and the Pilot’s Classics and Spitfire collection.
In July 2000, the IWC was taken over by the Richemont group, which continued the company’s Swiss ownership and professionalism.
The IWC takes particular care in the training of new employees, hosting a comprehensive annual training program, which can be read in the section Jobs/Education on the brand’s official website. Here, by filling in a membership request form, you can also become a member of the IWC “Community”.
IWC’s virtual universe includes a wide range of images, videos and technical information about the brand. For its most devoted fans, the website also offers a wide range of opportunities, such as pursuing advertising campaigns.
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