A Guided Tour Of The IWC Factory
By Jack Freedman
Founded in 1868 by Florentine Jones, a 27-year old American master watchmaker from Boston, the IWC Watch Company was established along the Rhine river at Schaffhausen, Switzerland hoping to benefit from the then newly built hydro-electric power facilities necessary to carry on mass production. Jones was fascinated by the idea of uniting American expertise in automatization with the legendary precision of the Swiss. He wasted no time in installing the machine tools most of them imported from America at premises in Schaffhausen.
The original factory building remains the cornerstone foundation of IWC’s sprawling number of buildings in use today.
The Jones calibre, the very first movement manufactured by IWC contained a wealth of advanced technical features. These included an elongated index to regulate the balance hairspring and a bimetallic cut balance to compensate for fluctuations in temperature.
Jones’ master plan to export his Swiss made watches back to the United States was thwarted by high import duties on finished watches. The general history of IWC’s status over many decades continued to be turbulent as it went from one crisis to another and it was not until 1978, when IWC was taken over by VDO, which in turn was acquired by the multi-national giant Mannesman group, that IWC was put on solid financial ground able to forge ahead and able to compete with its own Swiss French-speaking competitors in the western region of the country.
Being disadvantaged and far removed from the Jura capital of watchmaking near the French border, IWC has had to rely on a new pool of watchmakers from its very own school of watchmaking where every year it trains young apprentices a still respected trade following their high school graduation. Here we see a group at their benches plying their new trade.
Students and even trained and experienced workers are supervised by specialists as needed. Here we see an instructor pointing out some tips to students and the already trained receiving personal assistance.
The writer acknowledges thanks to IWC, International Wristwatch magazine, and others for information gathered to cover parts of this report.
Thank you for taking this tour and getting familiar with IWC. Your comments are welcome and can be sent direct to me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
(copyrighted by Jack Freedman, 10/98)