International Watch Company (IWC) is a Swiss high-end watchmaker from Schaffhausen in Switzerland. The company was established in 1868 by an American engineer and watchmaker, Florentine Jones. From its foundation, IWC has been creating masterpieces of haute horlogerie that combine precision engineering with exclusive design.
In intention to produce the watches of the highest quality and design, the Swiss manufacturer is one of the major competitors in the international sales of top-quality wristwatches. IWC embraces the broad range of the company’s watchmaking expertise: from robust watches for everyday wear to professional sports timepieces and the complexities of haute horlogerie.
The company is also notable for being the only major Swiss watchmaker located in easternSwitzerland, as the majority of the well-known Swiss watch manufacturers are based in western, French-speaking part of the country.
The official IWC’s motto established in 1903 is Probus Scafusia, meaning “good, solid craftsmanship from Schaffhausen”. Behind the motto lies the desire to manufacture precision timepieces that will be a joy to use and that will retain their value well into the future. The company’s philosophy is based on a passion for watchmaking, perfect craftsmanship and persevering enterprise.
All potential customers who decide to purchase IWC timepieces could expect not only accuracy, functional design and a long service life but also the kinds of advanced technical features that only a few watch manufacturers worldwide are able to provide. Each watch is professionally finished by watchmaking masters with trained eyes, nimble fingers and precision instruments.
From development to testing, assembly and service, all IWC products must endure a long, hard road from prototypes to finished products. Firstly, every watch is exposed to the various rates of acceleration. In the climate test, the watches are placed in a test chamber where they have to withstand temperature changes from –20 to +70 degrees Celsius and up to 95 percent relative humidity. These tests comprise the entire spectrum of thermal conditions on the earth (from the Arctic to theSahara).
Also, some parts of the watch are produced as early as the design phase, aiming to check the minimum requirements for those components subjected to uncommonly high wear and tear.
For corrosion and UV tests, the IWC puts its products for two weeks in a saline bath at 37 degrees Celsius. This insures that the selected materials will not corrode in a daily use or even in aggressive salt water. Also, glasses and dials are exposed to strong ultraviolet light for days on end and must not show any change of color, while divers’ watches have to prove their impeccability in dirty water.
Boston watchmaker, Florentine Jones, made the decision in the 1860s to establish a manufactory in Switzerland. In 1868, he founded the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen where he found ideal conditions, such as modern factory premises, a hydropower plant to run his machines, centuries-old horological tradition and lower wages of the workers. His first intention was to make movements and watch parts for the American market.
However, Jones was not well-funded and he eventually had to give up control of the company. After him, four generations of the Rauschenbach family owned IWC with varying names, and over the years, the company changed ownership many times and experienced both successes and failures. Nowdays, the IWC is a strong participant on the world stage of luxury timepieces.
The company’s excellent reputation was established right from the beginning with the very first Jones caliber. The movement was named after its founder. The IWC’s innovative spirit was demonstrated back in 1885 by Pallweber pocket watches with their revolutionary digital displays for hours and minutes. By the end of the 19th century, the first IWC’s wristwatches equipped with the 64-caliber pocket watch movements appeared. Today, some modern movements incorporated in IWC watches are based on movements supplied by ETA and heavily modified by IWC. Like all high-end automatic timepieces, IWC watches lose or gain about 4 seconds a day.
IWC is the official timekeeper of the world’s greatest race – the Volvo Ocean Race. It is a yacht race around the world, held every three years. The race that spans every ocean, five continents and nine months, represents an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endurance. The Swiss watchmaker also takes its economic, social and ecological responsibilities seriously. As a company that enjoys worldwide success, IWC corporate philosophy has resulted in several partnerships and social commitments.
IWC continues to be a premium brand in the international luxury watch segment. Though the company has experienced much financial fluctuation over the years, excellence has won out and now they have a secure spot in the global market with over 1000 sales outlets worldwide, including more than 35 company-owned boutiques in cities, such asGeneva,Dubai, Hong Kong andMoscow. IWC is an active member of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH. Since 2000, the Swiss manufacturer has been a part of the Swiss Richemont Group.
IWC incorporates six watch families: the Pilot’s Watches, the Portuguese, the Ingenieur, the Aquatimer, the Da Vinci and thePortofino, as well as the Vintage collection which comprises six modern watch reinterpretations inspired with the company’s past.