If you talk about the most important Swiss watch manufacturers, you also need to include a few figures. The dimensions are simply too impressive! IWC - the American dream that has become a watch reality - has long been at home in haute horlogerie and with 650 employees, worldwide sales outlets, an annual production volume of around 65,000 watches and annual sales of around half a billion, is truly no lightweight within the luxury watch community. In 2000, IWC (in a joint package with Jaeger Le Coultre and A. Lange & Söhne) was acquired by the South African luxury goods group Richemont for 2.8 billion Swiss francs. The 150-year success story can be traced in the in-house watch museum at the Schaffhausen site with 230 historic watch models. Whether tourbillon, chronograph, minute repeater or moon phase - the timepieces from Schaffhausen make the hearts of collectors & watch lovers beat faster in equal measure.
Currently available IWC watches
IWC luxury watches or an American in Switzerland
The story of the International Watch Company IWC cannot be told in a few sentences. What is unique about it and its watch models is a variety of different factors. One is its geographical location far from the Swiss watchmaking metropolises in a peripheral region near the Rhine. The other is the curious reversal of the trend that prevailed 150 years ago, when many emigrants were lured from Europe to America, while the founder of the International Watch Company (IWC) set out from the States for what was then a low-wage country, Switzerland. With chutzpah and a pioneering spirit, the engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones set his sights on transcontinental cooperation: Switzerland's skilled watchmakers, his state-of-the-art machine technology imported from the States, and the American "anything goes" motto were to build a broad-based watch empire. The fact that he settled in the watchmaking cradle of Schaffhausen had, in addition to the practical consideration of using the energy of the Rhine power plants, a historical ulterior motive. As early as 1409, clocks were being made in the nearby Rheinau monastery, and a "guild of fireworkers, gunsmiths, clockmakers and winchmakers" was mentioned in documents as early as 1583. In Schaffhausen, the legendary Habrecht family of watchmakers created a large astronomical clock for Strasbourg Cathedral. Jones apparently not only had a feel for what was feasible, but also for the genius loci. Admittedly, he failed, largely because of the high import duties in the USA, and went back to the States, and other owners and managers also struggled with high-sounding waves on the Rhine. But the wind changed in 1879 with the takeover by Johannes Rauschenbach, an industrialist from Schaffhausen. From then on, luck seemed to be with IWC. Even the bombing raid of April 1, 1944, failed to destroy the IWC factory site. The upward trend continued into the middle of the 20th century. Even the quartz watch crisis in the 1970s and 1980s could only marginally shake the IWC battleship. With the company's captain, Günter Blümlein, who was regarded as a genius, the company remained steadily on the road to success.
The IWC crown jewels
Nowadays, especially sought-after IWC rarities are paid high to the highest collector's prices. The company's history is paved with milestones. Shortly after the company was founded, the Pallweber pocket watch astonished with its digital display of hours and minutes, and Albert Pellaton developed automatic winding. With a high level of innovation, the company already recognizes the future potential of wristwatches at the end of the 19th century and relies on its own movements. In the 1930s, IWC's original pocket watch movements are incorporated into high-precision wristwatches. Ahead of their time are the Fliegeruhr XI from 1948, which is protected from magnetic fields, and its no less spectacular successors, which the British Air Force used to measure time. It is followed by the Pilot's Chronograph and the Porsche Design by IWD series with titanium watches such as the Ocean 2000 and the Compass Watch developed in 1978. The first titanium chronograph was launched in 1980. Not to forget the Da-Vinci from 1985, a chronograph with many complications such as perpetual calendar, tourbillon, moon phase display. IWC celebrated its company anniversary in 1993 with the presentation of an exclusive rarity - the Schaffhausen warhorse or Destriero Scafusia. All 125 pieces issued were snapped up within a very short time. Model names such as Spitfire Chronograph, Large Pilot's Watch, Portugieser Perpetual Calendar, Rattrapante Chrono, Portofino make collectors and watch lovers sit up and take notice.
IWC - Long-lasting watch families for very few
IWC collections - families - take up cultural and historical aspects with enthusiasm. Watch history was written by the very first wristwatch with Grande Complication, the diving watches waterproof up to 2,000 meters, inspired by the look of diving suits, the grandiose pilot watches, the first watch with digital display. The IWC engineer family shines with its unique understatement in form. With a strong emphasis on functionality, it is preferred by virile wearers who are committed to noble restraint. The IWC Portuguese family sees itself as a reverence to the great seafaring nation of Portugal. The IWC-Da Vinci family bows to the Tuscan universal genius Leonardo da Vinci, whose supposed flight propulsion system was revealed in the 1990s to be the original movement. Light-footed Italianità leaves its mark on the IWC Portofino family. It was also a strong commitment to understatement when, from 1970 onwards, daring and sensational designer watches increasingly dominated the market. Clearly proportioned, but not without that decisive dash of extravagance. In 1967, IWC responded to the growing popularity of diving by developing diving watches in the Aquatimer family, which experienced a celebrated revival in 2009. From the first Pilot's Watch in 1936 to the present day, the IWC Pilot's Watch family has remained firmly anchored in the company's portfolio as a traditional and indispensable member.
For Machos only?
The International Watch Company does not hide the fact that it builds its watches for the masculine, daring, hands-on man. Ruggedness, technical complexity and sporty, powerful looks made the brand unmistakably masculine. The award-winning IWC advertisement from the nineties, "IWC watches - almost as complicated as women. But on time." did earn the company a rebuke from the Swiss Society for Fairness. And the Swiss Equal Opportunities Commissioner judged the slogan, "Almost as beautiful as a woman. Ticks but right." as sexist despite its ironic intention. But IWC could be sure of the acclamation of its male clientele. IWC exposed itself to globalism at an early stage. It was not without reason that the Swiss company of American origin positioned its flag store in Hong Kong. And only there are special accessories and exclusive collections available in conceivably small numbers. For a few - but for these only the best!