IWC Schaffhausen is the first luxury watch brand to offer virtual tours of its manufacturing center via livestream.
The JOURNAL accompanied host Corinne during one of her tours.
“Do you also manufacture pocket watches?” Felix can’t hide his excitement. The 7-year-old jumps in front of the computer monitor, his eyes and mouth wide open. With a gentle smile, Felix’s parents try to pull him back onto his chair. “Yes, actually we sometimes do,” Corinne says through the monitor and laughs wholeheartedly. Never before had she experienced a kid so fascinated about the art of watchmaking.
One of the dozen professional manufacture guides, Corinne has been hosting numerous groups of visitors through the IWC manufacture – via livestream. They log in from all over the world, Asia, the Americas, Australia, and of course Europe. Sometimes they talk about the weather in their current locations before the tour starts. But what really brings them together is their shared fascination about watchmaking, engineering and technology.
FUTURE OF TECHNICAL INNOVATION
Since summer 2020, IWC Schaffhausen has been offering customized virtual tours of the new manufacturing center – the first entirely new building IWC has constructed since it was founded in 1868. Around 100 craftsmen, 70 construction companies and 25 engineering firms worked for no more than two years to build IWC’s new home for the future of technical innovation. An architectural treasure that brings together the production of movement components and cases, and the assembly of movements under one roof.
Today’s virtual manufacture tour guests are a fun-loving group of individuals with diverse backgrounds, ages, and professions, ranging from Felix and his parents, to two brothers, Manfred and Matthias, both mechanical engineers, to Ruth and Barbara, two ladies working in the corporate communications department of an architecture firm.
a. The Manufakturzentrum Drawing by Ben Li (Inkdial)
b. Design Center Drawing by Ben Li (Inkdial)
MANUFACTURE OF WATCH COMPONENTS
The journey begins with a short clip that immediately takes the virtual visitor into the world of IWC and Schaffhausen. Younger guests like Felix might be reminded of the fanciful intro of certain animated movies. The group learns about IWC’s history, the design center, and each of the departments where IWC’s specialists and watchmakers mill, drill, turn, decorate and assemble a total of 1,500 different watch components. All the while Corinne not only answers all questions but also skillfully navigates the group through a 3D rendering of the center by pushing a dizzying number of red, blue and green buttons.
LOOK OVER A WATCHMAKER’S SHOULDER
“What’s nice about the virtual tour is that guests can get really close to our employees and watchmakers. You get an amazing close-up look,” Corinne explains. Her group has reached one of the highlights of the tour: the movement assembly. The two engineering brothers can hardly hold back their amazement. Their eyes are glued to the computer screen.
Wearing the IWC Cyberloupe – a special magnifying glass with an integrated camera that allows a real-time look at a watch’s intricacies – watchmaker Robin puts the balance wheel into the movement. A step considered the most crucial one in the assembly process. The heart of the watch begins to beat.
a. Ceratanium® Drawing by Ben Li (Inkdial)
b. Movement Assembly Drawing by Ben Li (Inkdial)
Corinne patiently explains to the group what makes a watch tick, how components are decorated, how Ceratanium® is produced, and why watchmakers sit at their workbenches the way they do - with their arms elevated. Like all of her guide colleagues, she knows IWC inside out. “Most of us have been with IWC for many years” says Corinne, who also works as Heritage Manager for the IWC museum. “One colleague is a former watchmaker, one is an expert in the history of Schaffhausen, a few have worked in marketing, and two have long family traditions with the brand. We all carry IWC in our hearts.”
LIKE TWO LITTLE MAYBUGS
After 60 minutes and countless questions from Felix who manifests that later in life he will buy his own mechanical pocket watch, Corinne wraps up the tour. To her, it’s nothing unusual to be showered with questions, comments and compliments. Two of her most recent guests had huge smiles on their faces “like two little maybugs” during the entire one-hour tour. She learned afterwards that one of them had wanted to be a watchmaker since childhood.
For more information on visiting the IWC Manufakturzentrum, please click here.
To directly book an IWC Virtual Tour, an IWC Manufacture Fan Tour or an IWC Museum Tour, please visit YOUR IWC EXPERIENCE.
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