The History of IWC Schauhausen (International Watch Company) Watches

IWC History

It all began in 1868 when American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones founded the "International Watch Company" (IWC) in Switzerland with the idea of ​​using highly skilled Swiss craftsmen and modern equipment from abroad to produce high-quality watch parts and components for the American market.

He then met Johann Heinrich Moser, a watchmaker in Schaffhausen who made pocket watches primarily for the Russian Tsar. An industrial innovator, Moser had just built a hydroelectric power station in Schaffhausen on the Rhine. The station provided cheap energy that only a few people had access to - just what Jones needed. He founded IWC there.

Jones was not only a great businessman, but also a great watch designer, and his first mechanical pocket watch, the "Jones caliber", has some impressive properties.

A few years after its founding, the ownership of the "American" watch factory passed into Swiss hands, but the production philosophy "Probus Scafusia" (=Schaffhausen excellence) remains unchanged to this day.

In 1880, Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel bought the company. The Rauschenbach family has run IWC ever since for four generations. Johannes Rauschenbach died just one year after the acquisition, but his son, Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk, who was 25 years old at the time, took over the company and successfully ran it until his death on March 2, 1905.

In 1885, IWC demonstrated its innovative spirit with the world's first digital pocket watch, patented by Paul Weber. Soon after, IWC developed pocket watch mechanisms that could match the accuracy of a chronometer. Today, these IWC watches are extremely rare and highly sought after by collectors.

After the death of Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk in 1905, his wife, two daughters and their husbands, Ernst Jakob Homberger (managerial director of G. Fischer AG in Schaffhausen) and Dr. Carl Jung (psychologist and psychiatrist) became the new owners of IWC. Ernst Jakob Homberger had a major influence over the affairs of the Schaffhausen watchmaking company after the death of his father-in-law and guided IWC through one of the most turbulent periods in European history.

In the 1930s, IWC released the first antimagnetic watches designed specifically for pilots, reaching a further milestone in 1940 with the "Big Pilot's Watch". In 1948, the highly antimagnetic "Mark 11" appeared. This technology was later used for military purposes, but is still used in many IWC watches today.

Hans Ernst Homberger was the third and last of the Rauschenbach family to run IWC as a sole proprietor. He joined his father's company in 1934 and took over the reins of IWC after his father's death in April 1955. In 1957 he built a new structure at the factory as well as a modern pension for his employees. He bought new machines to meet new demands and continued to develop production techniques to what were always considered the latest standards.

Towards the end of the 40s, IWC was in fierce competition with Swiss manufacturers for the world's first automatic bidirectional winding mechanism, but IWC prevailed: IWC's patented automatic spring has remained unchanged to this day.

Introduced in 1955, the Ingenieur was equipped with cutting edge technology at the time, was worn by Sir Edmund Hillary to scale the highest mountains, and today is a collector's item.

The Yacht Club and Ingenieur SLs fared even better in the 60s and 70s. The growing popularity of water sports led IWC to introduce the Aquatimer in 1967. It was water resistant to 200m and had an internal rotating bezel to display dive times.

In 1969, IWC introduced its first quartz wristwatch. Called the Da Vinci, this quartz watch was equipped with the Beta 21 calibre movement. Due to a crisis in the industry, IWC avoided investing heavily in this technology and went back to its roots: technically refining mechanical movements to create the best.

In 1978, IWC introduced the world's first titanium watch case and band. This was thought to be impossible at the time due to the difficulty of working with titanium, which requires an oxygen-free environment. Today, IWC produces the most sophisticated bands in the world. Each band has a sturdy pin housed in its seam, which is secured by a push-button lock located below the seam, ensuring that the pin remains in place no matter what damage it sustains.

Today, IWC is best known for its World War II-inspired Pilot's series and the Portuguese series. The company employs around 390 people and has been part of Richemont's watch division since 2000.

IWC models

IWC (International Watch Company) Grand Complications

The IWC Grand Complication has 659 mechanical components, 71 of which are rubies. It has 17 functions and 12 patents, and comes with a perpetual calendar showing the date and moon phase for the next 500 years. Inside the Grand Complication, a chronograph and a highly complicated minute repeater work smoothly with uncompromising components. This incredible IWC invention chimes in with a clear tone by operating a slide lever on the left side of the case. The case is also first-class, finished with 95% platinum or 18-carat yellow gold. Despite the complex design of the case, the Grand Complication is water-resistant to light splashes of water.

IWC (International Watch Company) Portuguese

The fearless Portuguese sailors and conquerors had the best of times thanks to their incredible knowledge of sea navigation. They clearly surpassed other seafaring peoples. Every IWC Portuguese watch is a reminder of this Age of Discovery. After the Portuguese of the 30s, IWC launched a new limited edition Portuguese in 1993. Since then, other Portuguese models have come a long way and are always elegant but also with large, eye-catching characteristic features. As new landmarks in luxury watchmaking, we can mention the modern Portuguese Automatic, the most exclusive Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère and the limited edition Portuguese Minute Repeater Squelette.

IWC (International Watch Company) Da Vinci Moon Phase

The inspiration for the IWC Da Vinci series in 1985 was a sketch by Leonardo da Vinci of a ring of fortresses arranged in concentric circles with a moat running between them. But in addition to its unique design, it also features a perpetual calendar with moon phase, with five displays (date, day of the week, month, four-digit year, moon phase) in one operation. It will function until the year 2499.

IWC (International Watch Company) Pilot's Watch Classic Chronograph Wristwatch

IWC's Big Pilot's Watch should be called the Pilot's Superwatch. This pilot's model is a real miracle of engineering, not only with its large case, but also with what's inside this watch made in Schaffhausen. The 7-day automatic mechanism and the Pellaton automatic winding system are unmatched by each other in their strength. The smallest caliber stays true to its origins and serves the time-saving functions required for an IWC pilot's watch. Of course, it all comes together in the ultimate perfection.

IWC Pilot's Watch Spitfire

IWC (International Watch Company) Pilot's Watch Spitfire Chronograph Wristwatch

This collection of pilot's watches comes in several variations with fascinating aesthetics and technology, but the watch is named "Spitfire" just like the plane. The current Spitfire series (Double Chronograph, Chronograph Automatic, UTC, Mark XVI) evokes the technical excellence and elegance of the mystical plane. The numerals and hands are positioned as support for the dial, whose surface has a glossy matte shine due to a galvanic treatment, giving it a strong elegance. It is available in black or silver. The hour and minute hands, like the dial, are treated with luminous paint to make them easy to read at night. Of course, anti-magnetic properties are a feature of all IWC models.

IWC (International Watch Company) Aquatimer

The name not only combines the words "water" and "time", which are key concepts for diving, but also conveys that this is the best diving watch IWC has ever produced. The valuable experience of IWC's engineers was focused on its production. The famous inner bezel is a common feature throughout the entire series of IWC sports watches. It also incorporates several new developments depending on each model. For example, the patented "memory" function is a function designed especially for diving and the new automatic winding system. IWC pays special attention to functionality and clear visibility underwater. That's why the dial, hands and crown are all painted with orange, yellow or white luminous paint, which makes it very easy to see. It's the perfect watch for diving.

IWC (International Watch Company) Portofino

Robust and beautiful, the Portofino seduces with its timeless elegance. Its automatic winding mechanism has a power reserve of 42 hours and its case is impervious to water up to 30 metres. This makes the Portofino a stylish, discreet and reliable companion. The new Portofino Chronograph with stopwatch function also fits this philosophy.

IWC (International Watch Company) Ingenieur

The key to every GST watch is the extremely perfect and reliable mechanism. Depending on the IWC model, there are also other technical refinements such as a patented mechanical chronograph movement system, three chronograph pushers, date and day indicators, an automatic winding crown, etc. These are the elements that express the sense of life that seeks to find through sports and adventure.