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THE MASTERCLASS

How the launch of IWC Schaffhausen helped forge an exciting future for the Swiss watch industry

Exterior shot of IWC Schaffhausen head office

Among the grand masters of the Swiss watchmaking industry, IWC Schaffhausen is one of the most iconic. From its headquarters in northern Switzerland, IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces since 1868 and has elevated its status to that of global titan thanks to a world-renowned collection of men’s watches that pairs classic design with typically high-end Swiss craftsmanship.

Pioneering American founder Mr Florentine Ariosto Jones had emigrated to Switzerland from Boston in the 1860s and combined his transatlantic know-how with local manufacturing prowess to set up what was known as the International Watch Company. By applying his knowledge of industrial processes and modern technology – lacking at the time in Switzerland – his fledgling firm was able to start competing on a larger scale than had previously been possible.

IWC Schaffhausen watches

IWC Schaffhausen continues to place technical ingenuity at the centre of everything it does, combining supreme precision with exclusive design

Various breakthroughs throughout IWC Schaffhausen’s history have elevated the firm to where it is now. One such moment was the creation of the Portugieser watch – now one of IWC Schaffhausen’s most celebrated designs – which came following an encounter with two Portuguese businessmen who proposed the idea of a large stainless-steel wristwatch housing a movement that matched the precision of marine chronographs. Succeeding in placing a pocket-watch mechanism inside a wristwatch case resulted in a design that has since become an archetype for the firm’s later creations. Similarly, the production of the Caliber 89 movement in the mid 20th century continued to power IWC Schaffhausen models until the early 1990s and was renowned for its accuracy and longevity.

Chrome Spitfire

As other industries turn to a more digital focus, the Swiss horological sector continues to thrive despite the advent of wearable tech, with the timeless creations by IWC Schaffhausen and its contemporaries epitomising a craft that defies trends. And IWC Schaffhausen continues to place technical ingenuity at the centre of everything it does, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. The firm remains defiantly high-end and remains one of the few watchmakers to focus solely on men’s timepieces.

From the elegant to the sporty, each of IWC Schaffhausen’s six families of watches retains a distinct character. The sophisticated Portugieser and Portofino watches are the meeting point of classic and contemporary design; the Aquatimer and Ingenieur models come with considerable marine heritage, not to mention a wealth of technical functions – while the artful Da Vinci and high-spec Pilot’s Watch complete a collection that continues to set the benchmark within Swiss haute horlogerie.

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