Unmistakable originals of chronometry are the undisputed specialty of the IWC Schaffhausen watch factory in Schaffhausen, in north-east Switzerland: the famous Da Vinci, with its perpetual calendar, is one such. These naturally included the first Grande Complication for the wrist, but also the super-antimagnetic Ingenieur and the diver's watches, which are capable of withstanding water pressure even down to a depth of 2000 metres - and the only diver's watches with a mechanical depth gauge. From IWC come the professional Pilot's watches. Equally unsurpassed are the exquisite pocket watches, which have been built at IWC since the year of its foundation in 1868.
It was no accident that an American engineer from Boston, Florentine Ariosto Jones, established the International Watch Co. in Schaffhausen of all places in the year 1868. The factory on the Rhine - situated far from the watchmaking centres of West Switzerland - is indebted to this American for its name and its existence. There he found a newly constructed hydroelectric power station for his machines. Ideal conditions for his passion to build perfect mechanical movements for an international market. He also found watchmakers whose profession already had a long tradition in Schaffhausen. The State Archives in Schaffhausen include an entry dated 29 January 1583 relating to the Guild of Pyrotechnicians, Gunsmiths, Watchmakers and Hoistmakers to the City Council. This proves that the watchmaker's trade must already have existed in Schaffhausen at the time. In fact, the beginnings of the Schaffhausen watchmakers' art can be traced even further, as far back as the year 1409, when a monk from the neighbouring monastery in Rheinau built the striking clock of St. Johann's church.
Originals of chronometry appeared soon after the company was established, for example in 1885 the Pallweber system pocket watch with its digital display, today a sought-after collector's item. At the end of the 19th century, IWC was one of the first watch manufacturers to recognize the potential of the new and increasingly fashionable wristwatch, for which it developed entirely new movements. It also continued to build original pocket watch movements into wristwatches when the market in the thirties demanded large, extremely accurate wristwatches. This is how the Portuguese line came into being - a trendsetting wristwatch in a king-sized format until today.
IWC was involved when watches had to learn to fly with the pioneers of aviation and today offers a comprehensive range of professional pilot's watches, which are fitted with special protection against magnetic fields. And in the fifties the company not only led the competition in the race to introduce the first automatic movements, but also developed, in the so-called Pellaton winding mechanism, an unsurpassed winding system that it still uses exclusively today in its large automatic factory movements.
The special position of IWC is rooted not only in history, but also in geography. It remains the only watch factory in East Switzerland to this day. It is precisely for this reason that the factory regards the need to ensure a qualified succession in the manufacture of mechanical watches as both a commitment and a passion. Apprentice training leading to the Federal Final Diploma as Horloger complet has been the performance standard at IWC since 1950. This led us to set up our own training centre in 1968 with capacity for 15 Apprentices and two advanced training places. New training legislation came into effect in 2001, which offers budding watchmakers more flexible opportunities.
In the severe turbulence in the Swiss watch industry at the end of the seventies under its inspired manager, Günter Blümlein, this is the period in Schaffhausen when the points were set - contrary to the electronic spirit of the time - to take the company onto the track of mechanical watches, innovation and technically exacting men's watches. And from this conception of ourselves there grew the eye-catching advertising message: IWC. Since 1868. And for as long as there are men. Because men's watches have also been a subject of interest to women for a long time.
The craft perfection, the training of its specialists, the renunciation of mass-market products: all of these are in keeping with the old-established principle of IWC. To make watches for small numbers of people, but watches of the highest quality. That is also the reason why, if carefully maintained, our watches last for decades. And why today they are rare items, which fetch collector's prices throughout the world.
Leading impulses for the mechanical watch come from IWC. With its 390 employees, the company manufactures these sought-after pieces. Since the year 2000 IWC has belonged to the watch division of Richemont SA.