The International Watch Company, otherwise known as IWC or IWC Schaffhausen, is a prestigious Swiss watch manufacturer established in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. It is the only major Swiss watch manufacturer in Eastern Switzerland. Most of the well-known Swiss watch manufacturers are located in the western part of the country.
IWC specializes in mechanical watches that evoke the distinctive origins of chronometry. Some of the most famous mechanical watches in its collection are Portuguese, Da Vinci, Ingenieur, Portofino, Aquatimer, and the pilot watch Spitfire.
The International Watch Company was founded in 1868 by Florentine Ariosto Jones, an American engineer and watchmaker from Boston. The former director of then America’s leading watching company, E. Howard & Co., founded IWC to combine the craftsmanship of the Swiss with modern technologies from the United States.
Jones found a newly built hydroelectric plant in Schaffhausen, providing the ideal environment for his machines. Together with the plant’s pioneer, industrialist and watchmaker, Johann Heinrich Moser, Jones laid the foundations for the International Watch Company. It remains as the first and only watch manufacturer in Northeastern Switzerland.
In 1880, the International Watch company transferred its ownership and management to Johann Rauschenbach-Vogel. Thereafter, four generations of the Rauschenbach family had owned IWC under varying names.
After the death of J. Rauschenbach-Schenk in 1905, his son and successor began to run IWC as an open trading company. The company was renamed and managed by Ernst Jakob Homberger and Carl Jung, husbands to Schenk’s two daughters.
Hans Ernst Homberger was the last of the Rauschenbach family to run IWC as a sole proprietor. He took control of the company after the death of his father in 1955.
IWC is currently owned by the watch division of Richemont SA, a luxury goods group. It continues to be managed by executives from the LMH Group, which holds a 100% stock venture in IWC. It was created by IWC director, Gunter Blumlein.
- IWC’s Originals of Chronometry appeared after the first years of its establishment. For instance, the Pallweber system pocket watch with digital display was released in 1885. This piece is a much sought-after collector’s item.
- By the end of the 19th century, IWC was one of the first watch manufacturers that had recognized the tremendous potential of the new wrist watch. It developed entirely new movements to accommodate the style and function in the increasingly popular timepiece.
- IWC incorporated pocket watch movements into wrist watches in the 1930’s. This was a time when the market demanded large, accurate wrist watches. The result of this innovation is IWC’s Portuguese line, an extremely large trend setting wrist watch.
- IWC was one of the first watch manufacturers that developed its pilot watch technologies with the pioneers of aviation. Today, its comprehensive range of professional pilot watches is fitted with special technologies that allow function and accuracy.
- The race to introduce automatic movements in watches in the 1950’s resulted in IWC’s Pellaton winding mechanism system. This system is still exclusively used today.
Modified movements supplied by the ETA serve as a basis for virtually all modern movements in IWC watches. In particular, the Caliber 30110 is a modified version of ETA 2892A2. Also, the Caliber 79230, 79320, and 79350 are modified versions of ETA/Valjoux 7750.
IWC also employs movements that are not based on ETA movements. These include the Caliber 5000 and the Caliber 8000. These two models use the Pellaton winding system. Other examples are the pocket watch movements found in the Portuguese F.A. Jones and other IWC watches.