International Watch Company (IWC) – a Swiss company producing luxury watches.
The company was founded in 1868 by American watchmaker Florentin Ariosto Jones and watchmaker-entrepreneur Johann Heinrich Moser in the city of Schaffhausen. The newly made company was aimed at the production of watches in large volumes. One of the founders, Jones, was not only a watchmaker, but also an engineer, so he directed all his ambitions to create the best watches. The best watches.
The bet on conveyor production was expedient at that time: similar productions neither in Europe, nor in America, nor anywhere else at that time existed. Jones, based on a small watch manufactory by Heinrich Moser, launched an enterprise of rather impressive size. Mechanization in production reached such a level that no factory in the world could be compared. It is also worth noting that such a high mechanization of production did not affect the quality of the watches produced. The conveyor method produced only the basis of the mechanism (ebauche – ebosh), and the main ties were still performed manually. The adjustment and debugging of the mechanisms (the main factor of watch quality) were trusted by the best specialists. And this is the concept of IWC, which allows the company today to be leaders on a par with companies such as Patek Philippe, AP, V&C.
Many Swiss firms followed the example of IWC, starting the mechanization of production. At the end of the nineteenth century, production indices increased hundreds or even thousands of times. The market was filled with a mass of cheap and high-quality watches for the people (previously their own watches were considered a great luxury). The consumption structure has changed so much that companies began to develop new markets in Russia and the United States. IWC tried to use interesting inventions and innovations in the field of watchmaking, while maintaining a perfect compromise between consumer appeal and product quality.
In 1885, the first watches with a digital hour and minute display were created by the IWC. The model was an unprecedented success, but ten years later the model was stopped, since it turned out that such a system negatively affects important indicators: accuracy, reliability, and durability. Maintaining quality at the proper damage turned out to be very difficult, but thanks to the use of various innovations (biometallic balance with temperature, Bragg spiral), today even the early IWC mechanisms can be adjusted to the accuracy of the chronometer. Among the IWC clients there are many world-famous people, for example: Winston Churchill (Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II), Ferdinand I (first King of Bulgaria), Karl Gustav (Creator of analytical psychology).
In 1903, IWC approved the Probus Scafusia brand (from Latin “Top Quality from Schaffhausen”). These were conceptual responses from the Swiss (German-speaking) commune to francophones from Geneva. The Probus Scafusia brand was distinguished from the Geneva brand by a very high demand for reliability and quality of watches. Thus, they showed that their watches are no less beautiful than those of the French, but their watches have an all-conquering German quality. Any new watch in the IWC appears in the multiply enlarged model, which serves as a prototype. Parts are manufactured from proven materials. The finished model passes about 30 tests; among which there are temperature differences of 90 degrees, salt baths, shock test from 50G to 500G (1G is the normal atmospheric pressure on Earth). One has to check even the sound at which the chronograph buttons work and the crown rotates. IWC masters invite everyone to them so that their watches pass the same tests that IWC watches pass. So far, no one was willing!
Among the most famous antique pocket watches, the IWC is the so-called Pallweber, which is considered part of the Elgin caliber family. The Pallweber watch was made by the IWC from around 1885 to 1887. This example has an interesting case. An especially noteworthy fact is that the discs are signed by International Watch Co., As the name IWC sometimes did not appear on the discs of this model. In 1888, the IWC introduced its Caliber IWC advancement, which evolved to the famous Caliber 52 in 1893. Caliber 52 was the so-called Lépine design with a crown at 12 o’clock. A companion movement, Caliber 53, was also produced. The Caliber 53 was a Hunter or Savonette design with a curly crown at 3 o’clock. With various modifications of the Caliber 52, movements survived until 1940. Nearly 300,000 products have been manufactured, which far exceed any other pocket watch movement of the IWC. Caliber 56, known as the Schaffhausen caliber, was the Savonette movement (with a winding mechanism and therefore a crown at 3 o’clock). It was first produced in 1889, a year after the debut of Caliber 52 and 53. Initially, this movement was paired with Caliber 57, a version of Lépine that was introduced in 1890.