Swiss boat manufacturer Boesch, known for its classic mahogany boats, is celebrating its 100th anniversary. And Schaffhausen-based watch manufacturer IWC, which has been in partnership with the boat maker since 2008, is joining in the celebration. The occasion is being commemorated with the “Century Edition” anniversary models, along with the Aquatimer Automatic Edition “Boesch”.
Sometimes a small problem is what triggers a company’s march into the history books. Jakob Boesch was a carpenter from Toggenburg who was a bit afraid of heights – a rather inconvenient trait in his profession. This compelled him to move to Zurich at the end of the 19th century to do a second apprenticeship as a boat builder, allowing him to lay the cornerstone for an iconic family-owned company that to this day builds motorboats that are among the most beautiful in the world.
The history of the brand, which today operates in Kilchberg and Sihlbrugg and has maintained a fruitful partnership with IWC Schaffhausen since 2008, is also typical for small and medium-sized enterprises in Switzerland. The founding of the company in 1920 was made possible by a loan from the Sprüngli family of chocolate entrepreneurs and through the support of relatives – it was a close-knit group.
The money was very well spent, with Boesch today celebrating its 100th anniversary at the top of the industry – and IWC is celebrating along with it. There is an IWC special edition to mark the occasion, the Aquatimer Automatic Edition “Boesch”, which is limited to 100 pieces. “Both Boesch motorboats and IWC watches are handmade luxury objects of unparalleled quality and timeless beauty,” says Linus Fuchs, IWC Managing Director Switzerland. Like IWC, the boat manufacturer is passionately dedicated to design and technology while also being committed to sustainable and responsible manufacturing processes.
An example of this is a service that customers can benefit from for life, so to speak: “We have all components in stock as spare parts going back to year of manufacture 1965,” says Markus Boesch, who heads the family company in the fourth generation. For boats older than that, not everything is still available, but the parts can usually be copied and replaced. An interesting fact is that the boats have been numbered consecutively without any gaps since 1920. They recently reached the number 3,900, with an estimated 3,000 of them still ploughing the waters of our planet.
This special birthday is being celebrated with the “Century Edition” models, which include all kinds of anniversary extras. For example, the fine waterline on the outside of the boat is painted in gold, as is the 5.7- or 6-litre Ilmor V8 engine, which was refined by legendary Swiss engineer and engine developer Mario Illien.
IWC’s designers incorporated the entire Boesch ambience into the anniversary watch: The design, materials and colour are inspired by the boat builder, with mahogany brown playing an important role. A special homage to the boat maker can be spotted through the glass back cover. The IWC-manufactured calibre 82110 has a golden propeller engraved on the rotor where the IWC seal of quality “Probus Scafusia” is normally emblazoned.
The historical parallels between the two brands are fascinating: At IWC, founder Florentine Ariosto Jones was a pioneer in combining the Swiss watchmaking tradition with American production methods, formulating an approach to engineering that is still today the highest precept of the Schaffhausen company. On the shores of Lake Zurich, the founder’s son Walter Boesch was a kind of “Henry Ford of European boat building”. He was the first to roll out serial production methods in this sector – even if the series remained small, of course.
The principle lives on to this day. The FSC-certified mahogany boards arrive at one end of the workshop in Sihlbrugg, while the finished boats receive their final touches at the other end after passing through the various production stages. The work is predominantly manual, and the boat, which is made entirely of wood, is ultimately given a fine coating of epoxy resin consisting of 12 layers applied by hand before the actual paint is finally applied. Then it gleams in its prized reddish wood tone that unmistakably marks it as a Boesch boat. By the way, teak is also used, but this highly oily wood cannot be varnished and is therefore only used in the interior of the boat after being stained and oiled.
Boesch now builds 15 to 20 boats per year, they are between 6.5 and 10 metres long, and the least expensive model costs just under CHF 200,000. Sailboats were also part of the range until 1955, but from 1956 on, only motorised models were built. By the way, Boesch boats with electric propulsion were already available in the past, and since 1995 they have been made available again, with high-performance batteries added in 2005.
It should be added, however, that a ride in a sleek boat with two powerful V8 engines is a special treat not just for people with petrol coursing through their veins – although the sonorous sound of the engines adds to the pleasure. Because you can’t shift gears in the boat and have to manage all speeds with a single gear, a lot of engine displacement is needed. It’s a sublime feeling you get as king of the open water, gliding across the surface as swift as an arrow, enjoying the view of the waves and shores – and perhaps also the view of the exquisite watch on your wrist. In any case, many owners of a Boesch boat will want to purchase the Schaffhausen special edition watch as well. It’s just the right watch to have.
Photocredit: Juerg Kaufmann for IWC Schaffhausen
Juerg Kaufmann is a renowned outdoor and people photographer with a strong passion for the sea, and the mountains. His images encompass both compelling action photos and videos in extreme locations and highly polished, stylized studio work. He covered several Olympic Games, America’s Cup, and Volvo Ocean Race.
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