Whilst the rest of Swiss manufacturers are clustered in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, IWC chose to be different by planting its headquarters and manufactory right beside the banks of the Rhine in Schaffhausen. Ever since its establishment in 1868, IWC`s unique geographical location has helped to shape the company`s unique values and principles which distinguishes it from the rest of Swiss manufacturers.
IWC manufactures high caliber precision timepieces of lasting value with a blend of both Swiss tradition and technology. Over the years IWC has earned itself an untainted international reputation of excellence due to its unquenchable hunger for innovation and technical inventiveness. IWC is one of the prominent and prestigious brands in luxury watches creating masterpieces of haute horlogerie that blend exclusive design with precision engineering.
The most credit is owed to non-other than the highly qualified and expert employees who master every production step with perfection. IWC`s construction specialists and designers are committed to the claim to excellence, “Probus Scafusia” which means “Craftsmanship made in Schaffhausen”. The phrase was first formulated in 1903 and is not just an enormous challenge to IWC employees but a great passion they enjoy.
The journey of IWC begins with Florentine Ariosto Jones leaving his job as the Director of the famous E. Howard & Co to embark on a horological field trip to Switzerland. Ariosto Jones ` aim was to start his own watchmaking company which blended the rich Swiss heritage and the technologically advanced American haute horologerie expertise.
Having the most modern manufacturing equipment, F.A Jones` only needed the highly experienced and qualified Swiss crew. With these two in hand F.A Jones knew that his dream of making high-quality mechanisms and watch parts targeting the American watch aficionados was going to be a success.
Initially, his plan, like any other popular Swiss watch brands was to open his factory in the French-speaking area of Switzerland but he encountered some opposition because people feared for their traditional work at home jobs, Jones wanted to open a factory. Despite the opposition, F.A Jones did not lose hope in Switzerland, there was nowhere else he could find both expertise and low wages in one package. Finally, he met a master watchmaker and manufacturer Johann Heinrich Moser who was a resident of Schaffhausen.
Moser was a faithful patriot to his place of birth Schaffhausen and on a quest to industrialize it. Recently he had just installed a hydraulic station generated by the Rhine waters. Upon hearing F.A Jones plan, Moser was greatly intrigued by the idea and was ready to join hands with F.A Jones in order to make both their dreams come to pass. Moser`s hydraulic station only supplied a few people in the town and it was exactly what F.A Jones was looking for.
F.A Jones`s first factory premises were rented from J.H Moser at the Rheinstrasse. His business was a success and very soon he had to expand, renting further rooms in the Oberhaus, one of the oldest buildings in Schaffhausen. By 1874, one factory was no longer enough so F.A Jones opened another one buying part of the site from Moser`s hydroelectric company. Despite being an excellent and apt businessman, F.A Jones was also a gifted watch designer. His first watch, a mechanic pocket watch with "Jones caliber" was exceptional.
A couple of years later after its foundation, the "American" watch factory was taken by Swiss hands, it is in this era that the philosophy of the product "Probus Scafusia" which means the confirmed excellence of Schaffhausen was born and is still unaltered and maintained to this day. In 1880 the company was acquired by Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel. For the following years, the company was a family business, passed to four generations of the Rauschenbach family. Just a year after the sale, Johannes Rauschenbach died leaving the company into the hands of 25 years old Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk who ran the company until his own death in 1905.
After the death of Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk, his wife along with his two daughters and their husbands Dr. Carl Jung (psychologist and psychiatrist) and Ernst Jakob Homberger (director of G. Fischer AG in Schaffhausen) they became the new owners of IWC. Due to his experience in haute horlogerie, Ernst Jakob Homberger was the most influential on IWC`s affairs, guiding it from the most turbulent epochs in Europe's history.
The 1930s saw IWC presenting the first watch ever made specifically for aviators featuring antimagnetic mechanism. Another prodigious masterpiece came in 1940 when IWC produced the Big Pilot's watch and in 1948 was the Mark 11 with an amour against magnetic fields.
Hans Ernst Homberger, the third Rauschenbach heir and last to run the company as a sole proprietor took control of IWC after his father`s death in April 1955. His new presence didn`t go unnoticed, in 1957 he upgraded the factory by adding a new wing. In the same year, he set up a modern pension fund for the staff, bought new mass production machinery in order to meet new demands and the standards of his competitors.
Towards the end of the `40s during the era of hard competition among Swiss manufacturers, IWC proved to be ahead of the game with its patented automatic spring that has never been improved till today.
During the quartz crisis, unlike other hardcore Swiss manufacturers, IWC presented its first quartz wristwatch in 1969. Nonetheless IWC was wise enough not to heavily invest in the quartz technology and decided to go back to its traditional mechanical watchmaking. To date IWC is one of the most famed and prestigious watch companies, popularly known for its Pilot line of watches whose design was inspired by World War 2 and the Portuguese line of watches. At the turn of the 21st century IWC was acquired by the Richemont SA and has remained a subsidiary since then.
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