At the tender age of 27, American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones had been deputy director and manager with the E. Howard Watch and Clock Co. in Boston, then a leading American watchmaker. At a time when most young men were trying their luck in the west, Jones went in the opposite direction. True to his adventurous pioneering spirit, he planned to combine the outstanding craftsmanship of the Swiss with modern engineering technology from overseas. Unfortunately, his business plan met with unconcealed scepticism from the skilled workers in the Geneva region and the remote valleys of western Switzerland.

THE EARLY YEARS

The heritage of IWC is deeply rooted in American pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship. Florentine Ariosto Jones, a watchmaker from Boston, founds the International Watch Company in 1868. He draws on the help of eminently qualified Swiss watchmakers, modern technology, and hydropower sourced from the nearby River Rhine to manufacture pocket watch movements of the highest possible quality. The Rauschenbachs, an industrialist family from Schaffhausen, take over the company following Jones’ return to the United States. During its early years, IWC produces pocket watches with a digital “Pallweber” display, as well as wristwatches for women and men.

History

1868

1868

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

1875

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

1880

1880

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

1881

1881

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

1885

1885

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

1887

1887

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

1899

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

1903

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.

 

 

THE ERNST JAKOB HOMBERGER ERA

Following the death of Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk, Schaffhausen industrialist Ernst Jakob Homberger takes over the company. This era sees the birth of two watch families which are still true icons to this day. The first “Spezialuhr für Flieger” establishes the tradition of producing Pilot’s Watches in Schaffhausen, which, thanks to their unmistakable design, are still popular across the world today. As Portuguese importers order a series of large wristwatches with high-precision pocket watch calibres, the first Portugieser model leaves IWC’s workshops.

History

1905

1905

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

1915

1915

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

1929

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

1931

1931

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

1936

1936

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.

1939

1939

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

1940

1940

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

 

 

ALBERT PELLATON JOINS IWC

The post-war years are characterized by the increased use of technology in people’s everyday lives. More and more appliances create magnetic fields which can negatively impact the accuracy of mechanical watches. It is during this time that Albert Pellaton becomes Technical Director at IWC Schaffhausen. Among his inventions are the extremely accurate 89 calibre, or the soft-iron inner case, which protects watch movements against magnetic fields. He also develops a particularly efficient bidirectional pawl-winding system, which shoots to fame as the Pellaton winding system.

History

1944

1944

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.

1946

1946

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

1948

1948

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

1950

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.

 

 

HANS ERNST HOMBERGER TAKES OVER

In the same year that Hans Ernst Homberger takes over at IWC, the first Ingenieur is launched. Its simple round design has since returned and become a distinctive feature of this sporty and elegant watch family. A few years later, IWC launches the first Aquatimer, and with it writes the first chapter in a success story of diver’s watches from Schaffhausen that continues to this day. The company also plays a key role in developing the first ever Swiss-made quartz movement “Beta 21”, which premieres in the first Da Vinci with a distinctive hexagonal gold case.

History

1955

1955

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

1959

1959

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

1967

1967

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.

1969

1969

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.

1976

1976

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

1977

1977

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.

 

 

THE VDO ADOLF SCHWINDLING ERA

At the peak of the quartz crisis, IWC deliberately focuses on creating masterpieces of watchmaking art. With the world’s first watch case made from titanium, IWC lays the foundation for its unparalleled expertise in the area of materials. In the mid-1980s, the perpetual calendar from Kurt Klaus makes its debut in the Da Vinci family. Following seven years of development, IWC launches its first Grande Complication, and reaches the pinnacle of haute horlogerie. To mark its 125th anniversary, IWC unveils what is then the world’s most complicated mechanical wristwatch: Il Destriero Scafusia.

History

1978

1978

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

1980

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

1982

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

1985

1985

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.

1986

1986

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

1987

1987

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

1990

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

1993

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

1994

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

1995

1995

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.

1997

1997

The new GST sports watch line makes its debut.

1998

1998

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.

1999

1999

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.

 

 

THE RICHEMONT ERA

After IWC becomes a part of Richemont, the company continuously expands its six watch families with precision engineering and exclusive design. In the Portugieser line, a double moon display is added to the perpetual calendar, while this mechanism features a digital display for the date and month for the first time in the Da Vinci family. IWC introduces the external/internal rotating bezel for the Aquatimer and launches its first watch with a bronze case. The Annual Calendar complication shows the month, date and day in the format used in the U.S. – a tribute to the company’s American founder.

History

2000

2000

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

2001

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

2002

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

2003

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

2004

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

2005

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.

2006

2006

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.

2007

2007

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.

2008

2008

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

2009

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

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

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 Portugieser 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

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

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.

2014

2014

Roll-out of the new Aquatimer generation, with an innovative external/internal rotating bezel. It combines the advantages of an internal rotating bezel with the ease of use of an external rotating bezel. With the new digital perpetual calendar, the mechanical depth gauge and pressure-resistance to 200 bar, the watch family confirms its arrival at the highest level in haute horlogerie. It is also the first time IWC has used bronze, a material with a charisma of its own, for a watch case.

2015

2015

In 2015, IWC Schaffhausen celebrates the 75th birthday of the Portugieser watch family. The newly designed IWC-manufactured 52000-calibre family, which is used in the Portugieser collection, sets new technical and aesthetic standards. The annual calendar and the digital calendar are adopted for use in the Portugieser line.

2016

2016

In 2016, watch lovers all over the world can look forward to a wide range of IWC Pilot's Watches that seem set to create a furore with innovative designs, sophisticated complications and top-quality materials.