Inside the IWC Schaffhausen Universe
Entrance of the IWC headquarters in Schaffhausen; Photo Courtesy: IWC
Taking a tour of the historical universe of IWC Schaffhausen is being literally transported to the picturesque locales of Schaffhausen at the time when its founder, American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones, first arrived in this town over 140 years ago. One doesn't need to think hard to define the illustrious brand, as words like modern, timeless, luxurious and functional juxtapose in perfect harmony in our minds as do their literal operatives.
Making a mark in the world of haute horlogerie years back, it was in 1868, when Jones chose to establish the International Watch Co. in Schaffhausen, far from the watchmaking centres of western Switzerland, on the banks of the river Rhine. The impressive premises were built between 1874 and 1875 in the garden, directly adjacent to the banks of the Rhine. Retaining its old-world charm, the headquarters today stand on a site in Baumgarten that used to be the orchard belonging to the All Saints monastery in Schaffhausen. Jones, who was the deputy director and manager of the E. Howard Watch and Clock Co. in Boston, then a leading American watchmaker, had bigger dreams which set him on a journey across the Atlantic to Switzerland. With the vision of bringing together Swiss horological craftsmanship and progressive American production techniques to produce high-quality pocket watch movements for the American market, Schaffhausen proved to be the ideal ground to realise his dreams with a centuries-old horological tradition, a hydropower plant driven by the Rhine to run his machines, and a modern factory premises. His chance acquaintance with an industrialist from Schaffhausen named Heinrich Moser gave him the much-needed opportunity to kick start his dream project.
With his gift of innovation and engineering talent, he set out to revolutionise the horological world, with the legendary Jones calibres. In 1885, IWC demonstrated its innovative spirit in the Pallweber pocket watches, with their digital display for hours and minutes. Soon thereafter, IWC's first wristwatches featuring the 64-calibre pocket watch movement made an appearance. Going strong with 196 employees since it first started, the brand is a history in the making, with its impressive watch collections and a top-of-the-line watch manufacture unit, which now has a strong team of over 650 employees, including 180 eminently qualified watchmakers - all involved in the development, manufacture and distribution of perfect mechanical masterpieces.
(Read more in the January-February 2013 issue of Time 'n Style. On Stands Now!)