Over 140 years ago in Boston one of the premier Swiss watchmakers took its first breath and International Watch Company, IWC was born. A 27 year old watchmaker as well as an engineer, Florentine Ariosto Jones, had a vision and he worked to bring that to fruition. As the manager of E. Howard Watch and Clock Company in Boston he had wanted to combine that historical and incomparable craftsmanship of the Swiss with the latest cutting-edge technology. He believed he could take that historical horological brilliance and extend it to a modern factory with the centralized production idea.
The Swiss didn’t believe that the professional world of watchmaking should embrace modern technology. Jones went to Schaffhausen, the center of one of the oldest clock making regions, and believed he could manufacture high-quality watches here in house with precision, and reliability similar to the clocks that were world famous. The business took off successfully and later was sold to Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel, an industrial engine manufacturer, who when he died shortly after passed the business on to his son, Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk. This young man was an innovator and developed the Pallweber system, which was the first timepieces with digital minute and hour displays.
Producing some masterpieces through the years, the brand built a quality reputation. The Magique timepiece, exquisite with a cabriolet case and 24 hour indicator which was made to function as an open face and a hunter was one of the first. Then in 1899 IWC debuted one of the first wristwatches, a very beautiful 64 calibre ladies pocket watch technology. The company expanded with brilliant family support. The son-in-law worked diligently to propel the brand, and worked tirelessly to do that until around 1944. The brand introduced and manufactured a W.W.W. watch for the British Army, labeled Watch, Wrist, and Waterproof and engraved those three W’s in the back of the cases along with the royal arrowhead insignia. The brand designed and perfected a number of calibre’s and continued to improve the technical aspects of each design.
In 1955 Homberger’s son took over as the last private owner of the company and the first automatic winding watch also debuted that year. Lasting over two decades, Hans Ernest worked on revolutionary quartz movements and professional diving watches and in 1978 in cooperation with F.A. Porsche created a watch with a built-in compass. IWC changed hands again as German instrument manufacturer VDO Adolf Schindling AG took over and owned it until the turn of the 21st century. Porsche helped to design the first titanium case chronograph for IWC in 1980 and worked that into several other new timepieces.
In 1990 their Grande Complication was introduced taking strides in precision horology and including not only a minute repeater, moon phase display and perpetual calendar but clearly opening the door for some exceptional timepieces. The Portuguese, and the now legendary Mark 11 followed as well as the Portuguese Chronograph-Rattrapante. Sports watches followed in 1998 and another round of improved diving watches. The current IWC, owned by Richemont Corporation since early 2000 continues to produce some exquisite, complicated and ultra-functional timepieces that are sold and worn around the globe. The level of craftsmanship, the latest technology and the strides in design have put them in a new class of watchmakers. Certainly the vision that Jones had for IWC developed from that first timepiece and continued through the years, producing precision watches with old-world Swiss craftsmanship.