1868 – 1904 The early years

The history of the IWC Schaffhausen manufacture begins when, at just 27 years old, the engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones had assumed the direction and management of a leading watch manufacture in the United States at that time. True to his innovative spirit, Jones immigrated to Switzerland with the aim of combining celebrated Swiss artistry with foreign modern technology.

IWC’s legacy is rooted in the American pioneering and entrepreneurial spirit. Florentine Ariosto Jones founded the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen. Their goal was to manufacture high-quality pocket watches for the American market. To do this, he drew on the know-how of Swiss watchmakers and made use of modern technology and hydraulic power from the Rhine River. In 1875, the first facilities were built, where the current IWC headquarters are located on the banks of the Rhine. [read more]

In 1880, the Rauschenbach family assumed control of the company upon Jones’s return to the United States. During this time, IWC produced the first “Pallweber” digital display pocket watches, as well as men’s and women’s watches.

“Magique” was born in 1887. A pocket watch in a cabriolet case with a 24-hour cycle that can be used as a saboneta or lépine pocket watch. Later, one of the first known wristwatches goes on sale from Schaffhausen. This ladies’ watch is equipped with caliber 64, housed in a delicate case with joints for the bracelet.

1905 – 1943 The era of Ernst Jakob Homberger

After the death of Johanmes Rauschenbach-Scherk, the industrialist Ernst Jakob Homberger takes over the company on behalf of the Rauschenbach heirs.

In 1915, the manufacture created the calibers: 75 (without seconds hand) and 76 (with seconds hand), they are the first IWC movements designed specifically for wristwatches. At the same time, Ernst Jakob Homberger becomes the sole owner of the manufactory. Later, IWC creates its first rectangular watches that house the caliber 87.

During the 1930s, two families of watches were launched that are still true icons today. Specifically, 1936 saw the launch of IWC’s first “Space Aviator’s Watch”, equipped with a rotating bezel with indicator triangle and an antimagnetic escapement. Later, in 1939, the Portugieser family was born, which owes its name to two importers from Portugal.

1944 – 1954 Albert Pellaton joins to IWC

During the postwar period, the use of technology became a daily habit, therefore, the increasing use of electrical appliances would have a negative impact on the precision of watches due to magnetic fields.

In 1944, IWC presents the first waterproof wristwatch: a new military wristwatch for the British Army, characterized by having the letters “W.W.W” engraved on the caseback. In the same year, Albert Pellaton took over the reins of the manufacture.

Pellaton designed the 89 caliber in 1946. This movement features a central seconds hand and is extremely accurate. The 89 caliber was incorporated into the first Mark XI Pilot’s Watch. In addition, this watch also incorporates a layer of soft iron, which offers a high level of protection against magnetic fields.

Two years later, Albert Pellaton develops the caliber 85, IWC’s first two-way self-winding movement. The innovative ratcheting rope mechanism, which replaces traditional gears, is a patented IWC creation.

1955 – 1977 Hans Ernst Homberger at the helm of IWC

The first Ingenieur is launched in 1955, the same year that Hans Ernst Homberger takes over IWC. Subsequently, the manufacture creates the caliber 44, the first automatic movement for women.

In 1967, IWC creates the first Aquatimer, marking the beginning of a successful series of diving watches. With a water resistance of 20 bar, it is the preferred watch for professional divers. During this year, the first Automatic Yatch Club was also presented at the Basel Watch Show.

The company plays a key role in the development of the first Swiss-made quartz movement: the “Beta21”. A true watchmaking revolution. The Da Vinci model is the first wristwatch to be equipped with the Beta21 movement.

The appearance of the Ingenieur changes drastically in 1976. With its outward appearance, it no longer only attracts watchmaking professionals, but also lovers of trends. Additionally, the Ingenieur has an inner case that protects the movement from magnetic fields and also makes it more resistant to impacts.

In 1977, IWC presents caliber 9721: the manufacture’s first pocket watch with a perpetual calendar and moon phase indicator.

1978 – 1999 The VDO Era Adolf Schindling

In 1978, IWC created the first compass wristwatch in collaboration with designer F.A. Porsche. This same year, the German VDO Adolf Schindling takes over IWC.

During the 1980s, and in the midst of the crisis of the quarter, IWC develops watchmaking masterpieces. So much so, that in 1980 the company developed the world’s first chronograph with a titanium case. Two years later, IWC launches the Ocean 2000 diving watch, made entirely of titanium and water resistant to 200 bar. In the mid-1980s, Kurt Klaus’ extraordinary perpetual calendar appeared in the Da Vinci family. Likewise, IWC begins to use zirconium oxide in its cases, a scratch-resistant ceramic that is practically impossible to break.

In 1990, the company took a great leap in terms of watchmaking precision, creating the first Grande Complication wristwatch. This watch has a chronograph with perpetual calendar, minute repeater and indication of the phases of the moon.

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Da Vinci Automatic Chronograph collection, a version with a split-seconds chronograph with ten hands appears in 1995. Another new model is the Portugieser Chrono-Rattrapante, a large chronograph caliber with a ratrapante hand. The third new product is unmistakable: the Portugieser Minute Repeater.

2000 – 2023 The Richemont era

At the beginning of the 19th century, IWC created the extra-large caliber 5000 with the Pellaton winding system and 7-day power reserve. Likewise, during this time, the Richemont group acquired IWC. After becoming part of Richemont, IWC continues to expand its six families of uniquely designed and precision-engineered watches.

Around 2002, IWC presented the Large Pilot’s Watch with a 7-day movement at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, thus rescuing the tradition of the company’s Large Pilot’s Watch.

The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar was born a year later with a new design. The watch has moon phase indication for both hemispheres, further proof of IWC’s tradition of innovation. At the same time, the new Spitfire line of Pilot’s Watches was also born.

In 2010, IWC launches new models of the Portugieser family. For the first time, the Portugieser Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde combines the Flying Tourbillon with retrograde date display. In addition, the Portugieser Yatch Club Chronograph is born, bringing a sporty touch to the Portugieser family. Additionally, the Da Vinci Ceramic Chronograph is equipped with a three-dimensional minute track that appears to float above the dial.

Currently and in line with the initial spirit of the brand, the company continues to evolve. IWC has developed the new Ingenieur Automatic 40, a model inspired by Gérald Genta’s ingenieur that combines modern technology with ergonomic design and excellent finishes.



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