IWC Chronology

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146 Years of Craftsmanship

Roaring masses of water plunge over the rocky cliffs that make up the world-famous Rhine Falls. A few kilometres upstream, in Schaffhausen, the Rhine glides at a leisurely pace past the workshop windows of IWC. Here, over 140 years ago, a company began a story that is still being written today. At the tender age of 27, the American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones had been the deputy director and manager of the E. Howard Watch and Clock Co. in Boston, then a leading American watchmaker. At a time when most people were trying their luck in the west, Jones went in the opposite direction. His journey took him across the Atlantic to Switzerland, where wages were still comparatively low. His plan was to combine the outstanding craftsmanship of the Swiss with modern engineering technology from overseas and his own pioneering spirit to manufacture high-quality watches for the American market. However, the skilled workers in the Geneva region and the remote valleys of western Switzerland met his plans with scepticism. Since the 17th century, they had been working from their homes or in tiny workshops. Jones, on the other hand, was dreaming of building a modern factory with centralised production.

It was then that Jones chanced on an industrialist from Schaffhausen by the name of Heinrich Moser. At this time, Schaffhausen already had a long clockmaking tradition. The first clock ever mentioned in the records was made way back in 1409 at the Rheinau Monastery, ten kilometres further down the Rhine. It had been produced for the Church of St. John in Schaffhausen. There are also official records of a clockmakers' guild in the town since 1583, and it was also home to the famed Habrecht family of clockmakers, who built one of history's most outstanding astronomical clocks for Strasbourg cathedral. Nevertheless, it was Jones's plan to manufacture relatively large numbers of high-quality watches in-house to precisely the same tolerances which enabled these watches made in Schaffhausen to become famous all over the world.

The Early Years

1868 - 1905

  • 1868
    IWC founded

    Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841-1916), a watchmaker from Boston, Massachusetts, founds the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen. His aim: to produce high- quality pocket watches for the American market.

  • 1875
    construction of headquarters begins

    Construction of new premises and the current headquarters of IWC on the banks of the River Rhine. IWC has 196 employees.

  • 1880
    New Ownership

    Schaffhausen engine manufacturer Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel (1815-1881) acquires IWC.

  • 1881
    Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk Steps Up

    Following the death of his father, Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk (1856-1905) takes over IWC's helm.

  • 1885
    pallweber system developed

    Innovation: the first watches with a digital hours and minutes display (Pallweber system) leave the workshops in Schaffhausen.

  • 1887
    introducing the magique

    Manufacture of the Magique, a pocket watch in a cabriolet case with a 24-hour display that can be used either as a hunter or an open-face pocket watch.

  • 1899
    First wristwatch released

    One of the first known wristwatches leaves Schaffhausen destined for the market. The company's small 64-calibre ladies' pocket watch movement is housed in a dainty case fitted with lugs for the wristband. The 63-calibre ladies' pocket watch movement is used for other wristwatches.

  • 1903
    new unions

    Emma Marie Rauschenbach (1882-1955), daughter of Johannes Rauschenbach, marries psychologist and psychiatrist Dr. Carl Gustav (C. G.) Jung (1875-1961). Her younger sister Bertha Margaretha marries Schaffhausen industrialist Ernst Jakob Homberger (1869-1955) the same year.

Florentine Ariosto Jones
1868

Florentine Ariosto Jones

IWC Headquarters
1875

IWC Headquarters

Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel
1880

Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel

The Ernst Jakob Homberger Era

1905 -1944

  • 1905
    Homberger takes over

    Following the death of Johannes Rauschenbach, Ernst Jakob Homberger takes over the management of IWC on behalf of Rauschenbach's heirs.

  • 1915
    New Calibres Developed

    Two newly developed calibres, the 75 (without seconds) and the 76 calibre (with small seconds), are the first movements designed by IWC specifically for wristwatches.

  • 1929
    sole ownership

    Ernst Jakob Homberger acquires the holding of his brother-in-law C.G. Jung and becomes the sole owner of IWC.

  • 1931
    calibre progress

    IWC creates elegant, rectangular watches that contain the newly designed tonneau-shaped 87 calibre.

  • 1936
    first pilot's watch

    IWC's first “Special Pilot's Watch“ is launched. It features a rotating bezel with an arrowhead index that can be used to register take-off times. It is also fitted with an antimagnetic escapement.

    see the pilot's watch Family today

  • 1939
    introduction of portuguese watch

    The birth of the Portuguese watch: two importers from Portugal order a series of large wristwatches with high-precision pocket watch calibres.

    see the portuguese family today

  • 1940
    Pilot's watch innovation

    In response to demand, IWC develops the Big Pilot's Watch 52 T. S. C. with a central seconds hand.

Ernst Jakob Homberger
1905

Ernst Jakob Homberger

Albert pellaton joins IWC

1944

  • 1944
    Pilot's watch innovation

    The appearance of IWC's first W. W. W.: a new wristwatch for military use by the British Army. The letters W. W. W. engraved on the back of the case stand for “Watch, Wrist, Waterproof”, and the royal arrowhead insigna is used as a mark of ownership. Albert Pellaton, born in 1898, takes up his post as Technical Director at IWC.

    see the pilot's watch family

  • 1946
    Pilot's watch innovation

    Pellaton's first design, the 89 calibre movement, has a central seconds hand and is extremely accurate.

  • 1948
    Pilot's watch innovation

    Appearance of the Pilot's Watch Mark 11 from IWC with the 89 calibre. Its soft-iron inner case provides unusually high protection against magnetic fields.

  • 1950
    Pilot's watch innovation

    The 85 calibre, designed by Albert Pellaton, features IWC's first automatic winding mechanism. The innovative pawl-winding system replaces the traditional reciprocal gearing and, at this time, is a patented proprietary development by IWC.

Albert Pellaton
1950

Albert Pellaton

hans ernst homberger takes over

1955 - 1977

  • 1955
    hans ernst homberger takes control

    Hans Ernst Homberger becomes the company's last private owner. The Ingenieur with automatic winding is launched.

  • 1959
    Pilot's watch innovation

    Design of the 44 calibre, the first automatic women's movement from IWC.

  • 1967
    Aquatimer introduced

    With the Aquatimer, IWC marks the beginning of a successful series of diver's watches. Water-resistant to an unprecedented 20 bar, it is the watch of choice for professional use underwater. The Yacht Club Automatic is unveiled at the Basel Watch Show.

    see the aquatimer family today

  • 1969
    Quartz control & Da VINCI introduced

    IWC is involved in the development of the Beta 21 quartz movement, a wristwatch calibre with quartz control (frequency 8192 hertz). It marks a watch-making revolution. The Da Vinci is the first IWC wristwatch to feature the Beta 21 quartz movement.

    see the da vinci family today

  • 1976
    ingenieur innovation

    With the new Ingenieur SL, IWC takes the Ingenieur tradition a step further.

    see the ingenieur family

  • 1977
    new twist on the pocket watch

    The unveiling of the 9721 calibre: the first pocket watch from IWC with a calendar and moon phase display. IWC embarks on the construction of its complications. These include a series of complicated pocket watches, some of which are also skeletonised.

Hans Ernst Homberger
1955

Hans Ernst Homberger

The VDO Adolf Schindling Era

1978 - 2000

  • 1978
    cooperation with F.a. porsche & VDO Adolf schindling AG takes over

    Co-operation with designer F.A. Porsche results in the first wristwatch with a built-in compass. The same year, German instrument manufacturer VDO Adolf Schindling AG takes over IWC.

  • 1980
    worlds first titanium cased chronograph

    IWC produces the world's first chronograph in a titanium case, designed by F. A. Porsche. IWC procures its expertise in the machining of titanium through an exchange of ideas with Aérospatiale and other leading technology specialists.

  • 1982
    ocean 2000 launched

    IWC launches the ultra-rugged Ocean 2000 diver's watch, made of titanium and pressure-resistant to 200 bar.

  • 1985
    innovations in the perpetual calendar

    The Da Vinci from IWC is the first chronograph to feature a perpetual calendar that is mechanically programmed for the next 500 years and can be set using only the crown. Another exclusive feature is the four-digit year display.

    see the portuguese perpetual calendar

  • 1986
    zirconium oxide first used

    IWC begins to use zirconium oxide, a scratch-resistant and virtually unbreakable ceramic, as a new case material.

  • 1987
    novecento introduced

    With its Novecento (Italian for “20th century”) the Schaffhausen-based company presents the first rectangular, water-resistant and automatic IWC watch with a perpetual calendar.

  • 1990
    grande complication unveiled

    A quantum leap in precision watchmaking: the wristwatch-size Grande Complication appears with a wealth of functions: a chronograph with a perpetual calendar, minute repeater and moon phase display. It is a masterpiece that was 7 years in the making.

  • 1993
    iwc celebrates 125 years

    Watchmaking's ultimate achievement goes by the name of II Destriero Scafusia, “The Warhorse of Schaffhausen”. To mark its 125th anniversary, the company produces what was then the world's most complicated mechanical wristwatch in a one-off limited edition of 125 pieces. The exclusive timepiece features several complications, including a tourbillon, split-seconds, minute repeater and perpetual calendar. Likewise, to celebrate its 125th anniversary, IWC launches a limited series of its Portuguese watch, and in doing so revives the tradition of high-precision, large-calibre wristwatches.

  • 1994
    a refreshed pilot's watch is introduced

    The Pilot's Watch Mark XII maintains the tradition of the legendary Mark 11.

  • 1995
    iwc celebrates 125 years

    To commemorate the 10th birthday of the automatic Da Vinci Chronograph, the Da Vinci appears as a split-seconds chronograph with a tenth hand. Another new model is the Portuguese Chrono-Rattrapante, a large-calibre chronograph with split-seconds hand. There is also no mistaking the third new product: the Portuguese Minute Repeater.

    see the portuguese minute repeater

  • 1997
    An innovative sports watch

    The new GST sports watch line makes its debut.

  • 1998
    pilot's watch UTC launched

    IWC's designers launch the Pilot's Watch UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) featuring an hour hand that can be adjusted in one-hour steps and a 24-hour display.

    see the pilot's watch family

  • 1999
    gst deep one introduced

    The GST Deep One is a demonstration of IWC's creativity when it comes to diver's watches. The GST Deep One is the first IWC watch with a mechanical depth gauge.

    see the aquatimer family

Il Destriero Scafusia
1993

Il Destriero Scafusia

the richemont era

2000 - Present

  • 2000
    Innovation for large wristwatches & richemont takes over

    With the extra-large 5000 calibre, which runs for 7 days non-stop and features a power reserve display and a Pellaton automatic winding system, IWC's designers develop the company's own movement for large wristwatches. IWC is taken over by Richemont.

  • 2001
    end of an era

    Günter Blümlein (1943-2001), amongst other things Chairman of the Board of Directors at IWC, was an outstanding personality who had a decisive influence on the company's development.

  • 2002
    big pilot's watch revived

    At the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) in Geneva, IWC presents the Big Pilot's Watch with its 7-day movement, automatic winding, power reserve display and date display, and revives the company's tradition of the Big Pilot's Watch.

  • 2003
    A new perpetual calendar & spitfire pilot's range introduced

    The Portuguese Perpetual Calendar with its newly designed perpetual calendar and exclusive hemisphere moon phase display is yet another demonstration of IWC's innovative tradition. A second highlight is the new Spitfire range of pilot's watches.

  • 2004
    growth for the IWC families

    IWC relaunches the Aquatimer family. At the same time, the Portuguese family is extended to include the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère, the Portuguese Minute Repeater Squelette and the Portuguese Automatic. New models are also added to the Da Vinci and Portofino lines.

  • 2005
    ten premieres in one year

    Ten IWC premieres in a single year. There are some exquisite new additions to the Portuguese and Da Vinci families and, after 50 years, the Ingenieur makes a spectacular comeback in three versions. The new East Annexe of the company's premises in Schaffhausen is inaugurated.

    see the ingenieur family

  • 2006
    five pilot's watches unveiled

    IWC unveils five classic pilot's watches in a modified design, including the Big Pilot's Watch and the Pilot's Watch Chronograph. The watches in the Spitfire collection, such as a larger version of the Spitfire Chronograph, are given a facelift.

    see the pilot's watch family

  • 2007
    da vinci collection gets a facelift & watch museum opens

    IWC presents the tonneau-shaped Da Vinci line. This includes the Da Vinci Chronograph with a completely new IWC-manufactured movement and the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Edition Kurt Klaus, named after the man who invented the calendar, commemorating his golden jubilee with IWC. Other new products include the Big Ingenieur and the Spitfire Double Chronograph. In the summer, the newly designed watch museum opens its doors. A modern, light-flooded space with many attractive exhibits now occupies the area where cases and movement parts were once made, and a multimedia presentation relates the company's history.

    see the da vinci family

  • 2008
    IWC vintage collection launched

    On the 140th anniversary of its foundation, IWC pays homage to the legendary founders of its six watch families in an exclusive IWC Vintage Collection. The West Annexe, built for the company's watchmakers in the same style as the East Annexe, is completed.

  • 2009
    New Aquatime Line Presented

    IWC presents a new generation of technically improved Aquatimer watches together with new models. A much-publicised premiere: the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Digital Date- Month arrives on the scene with a big digital display for the date and month in large numerals.

  • 2010

    IWC launches several new models in the Portuguese watch collection. For the first time ever, the Portuguese Tourbillon Mystère Rétrograde combines the flying tourbillon with a retrograde date display. While the Grande Complication makes its debut in a Portuguese case, the Portuguese Yacht Club Chronograph brings an unmistakably sporty touch to the watch family. And the Da Vinci Chronograph Ceramic, with a case made of extremely durable high-tech ceramic and titanium, features a fascinating three-dimensional chapter ring that appears to hover above the dial.

  • 2011

    In its new guise, the classically elegant Portofino watch family combines Swiss precision with Italian joie de vivre. The flagship is the Portofino Hand-Wound Eight Days with its new IWC-manufactured 59210-calibre movement. With its combination of a titanium case, rubber strap and split-seconds hand, the Ingenieur Double Chronograph Titanium is a worthy addition to the Ingenieur watch family. In August, at the European Southern Observatory (ESO) on Cerro Paranal, Chile, IWC presents the most exclusive and complex mechanical wristwatch ever built in Schaffhausen: the Portuguese Sidérale Scafusia. It features a patented constant-force tourbillon together with numerous complications and individually calculated astronomical displays. Every watch is unmistakably unique and made specifically to order.

  • 2012

    The year of the high-flyers: IWC takes off with five new TOP GUN models. The TOP GUN Miramar line, with its military style design, references IWC’s longstanding tradition in the manufacture of deck watches. Taking pride of place in the elegant Spitfire line, which comes in a more luxurious look with new features, is the Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month. And in the Classics collection with its authentic cockpit-style design, the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer continues the success of the UTC Pilot’s Watches.

  • 2013

    The completely overhauled Ingenieur collection is inspired by IWC’s new cooperation with the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One™ Team. Two of the spectacular watches that underscore IWC’s aspirations to lead the constructors’ championship in haute horlogerie include the Ingenieur Constant-Force Tourbillon featuring the patented mechanism responsible for its name and the Ingenieur Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month with its quick-action switch. Case materials such as titanium aluminide, carbon, ceramic and titanium are inspired by the range of materials used in FORMULA ONE.

5000 calibre
2000

5000 calibre

Günter Blümlein
2001

Günter Blümlein

IWC East Annexe
2005

IWC East Annexe

New Da Vinci line
2007

New Da Vinci line

New Da Vinci model
2009

New Da Vinci model

Portuguese Grande Complication
2010

Portuguese Grande Complication

New Portofino line
2011

New Portofino line

New Pilot’s line
2012

New Pilot’s line

New Ingenieur line
2013

New Ingenieur line