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IWC Portuguese Grande Complication Gold Watch.

World's 1200 Top Watch Brands & Watchmakers: i

INTERNATIONAL WATCH CO. SCHAFFHAUSEN, also known as IWC, is a high-end Swiss watch manufacturer located in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. IWC is an active member of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry FH. IWC Schaffhausen is notable for being the only major Swiss watch factory located in eastern Switzerland, as the majority of the well-known Swiss watch manufacturers are located in western Switzerland. The lingua franca of IWC is German. IWC's motto is Probus Scafusia, meaning "good, solid craftsmanship from Schaffhausen" and was established in 1903 as the "Official Motto".

In 1868, an American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841–1916) who had been a director of E. Howard & Co., in Boston, then America's leading watchmaking company, founded the International Watch Company with the intention of combining the craftsmanship of the Swiss with the modern engineering technology from the U.S. to manufacture movements and watch parts for the American market." At the time, wages in Switzerland were relatively low although there was a ready supply of skilled watchmaking labor" mainly carried out by people in their homes. Jones encountered opposition to his plans in French-speaking Switzerland because people feared for their jobs" and the work they did at home because Jones wanted to open a factory. In 1850 the town of Schaffhausen was in danger of being left behind in the Industrial Age. It was at this stage that watch manufacturer and industrialist Johann Heinrich Moser stepped in and did the region a huge service. As a pioneer of hydropower, he built Schaffhausen's first hydroelectric plant and laid the cornerstone for future industrialization." He probably met F.A. Jones in Le Locle and showed great interest in his plans. Together, they laid the foundations for the only watch manufacturers in north-eastern Switzerland: The International Watch Company in Schaffhausen.

In the 1970s and 80s, the Swiss watchmaking industry underwent a phase of far-reaching technological change. Following in the wake of the use of miniaturized electric batteries as a source of energy for wristwatches from the late 1940s onwards and the invention of the transistor in 1947, purely mechanical watch technology developed into a hybrid discipline of precision mechanics and electronics. The cataclysmic rise in gold prices in 1974 had grave consequences for the watch exporting industry. Between 1970 and 1974 the price of gold rose from 4850 to 18 000 francs and the value of the dollar against the Swiss currency plummeted by up to 40%. As a result, the price of watch exports rose by as much as 250%. At the same time Japan was flooding the market with cheap quartz watches. A change of direction was necessary and this led to the adoption of a number of measures. In order to survive, IWC, under the leadership of Director and CEO Otto Heller, built up a line of high-quality pocket watches, and, apart from setting up its own modern wristwatch and case manufacturing facilities, began working closely with Ferdinand A. Porsche as an external designer. In addition, IWC pioneered new watchmaking technologies, notably the first titanium bracelets, developed in 1978. For its new plans IWC required a high level of venture capital. With the help of the Swiss Banking Corporation, the company was put in contact with VDO Adolf Schindling AG, which took a majority interest in IWC in 1978. At the same time, IWC reacquired the name it had originally been given by its founder F.A. Jones (INTERNATIONAL WATCH CO. AG). In 1991 IWC director Günter Blümlein founded the LMH Group with its headquarters in Schaffhausen. With a 100% stake in IWC, 60% in Jaeger-LeCoultre and 90% in the Saxony-based watchmaking company of A. Lange & Söhne, the Group employed some 1440 persons. In July 2000, LMH was acquired by Richemont, a Zug-based luxury goods group, for CHF 2.8 bn. Despite the takeover by Richemont, IWC was guaranteed that it would continue to be managed by the same executives from the LMH Group. In the year 2001 IWC went online with the Collectors Forum. Four times a year, IWC publishes a customer magazine titled, Watch International. This publication is available in German, French and English, and includes stories, articles and features about IWC.

The company began keeping detailed records for every watch that has left the factory since 1885. Since 1885, details of the caliber, materials used and cases have been entered into the records. In the case of later models, these also include the reference number, delivery date and the name of the authorized dealer. For a small fee, the owner can obtain precise information about their watch, as long as the watch is at least ten years old. The company claims that its service department has the parts and is capable of repairing and maintaining watches from every era since IWC's foundation in 1868.

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