International Watchmaking Company, IWC Schaffhausen, has been known for the highest standards of aesthetics and precision in horology since its founding in 1868.
IWC was one of 19 exhibitors at the recent 21st Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), the premier trade-only showcase held in Geneva and attended by 12,000 visitors and 1,000 journalists. This year’s event was decidedly upbeat – with 60% attendance from Europe, 20% from Asia, 12% from the Americas, and 8% from the Middle East.
At the high end of the IWC collection, priced at $350,000 and considered the most complex mechanical wristwatch ever made, is the Il Destriero Scafusia named for the noble steeds used by jousting knights in the Middle Ages. Only 125 pieces were slated to be made when production began in 1993.
Although most celebrated Swiss watch companies were founded by Germans, Greeks, Italians or French, IWC was founded by an American, Florentine Ariosto Jones who wanted to open a factory in Switzerland to benefit from lower wages and the precision of Swiss movements.
The idea was to make the watches in Switzerland and export them to the United States, but taxes proved unwieldy and IWC entered a period of ownership ups and downs until Johann Rauschenbach-Vogel stepped in and his family ran the company for four generations. In July 2000, Richemont, a Zug-based luxury goods group took ownership.
The new IWC.com resembles a window on a counter display that can be opened and the products examined in micro-detail at the pass-over of a mouse. All told – it reads and navigates like a handsomely illustrated coffee-table book, sleek, detailed but spare, elegant – like the brand it is selling.
The About vertical includes the usual, News and Events, Partnerships, Contact – and a Library which offers a subscription to WATCH International Magazine, The IWC Book – a microsite about the history of the company, and the downloadable iPhone app, as well as desktop background downloads.
The Collection showcases seven watch families from IWC Vintage to Pilot’s Watches, and a mouse-over brings up a detailed, enlarged image of the selected timepiece such as:
IWC’s 5000 Calibre: released in 2000, has a mechanical movement that automatically powers the watch for seven days without external movement. Production was limited to 2000 pieces, 250 platinum, 750 in rose gold and 1000 in stainless steel, with prices listed from $10,500 to $19,000.
IWC’s Portofino Dual Time, available fall 2011, was unveiled at this year’s SIHH with an approximate price tag of $17,600.
Under Special Editions and Exceptional Pieces, one finds the Grande Complication, aptly named, one of the world’s most complex mechanical wristwatches, this limited edition of 50 watches per year includes a perpetual calendar mechanically programmed for the next 500 years, and a minute repeater with crystal-clear chime tones.
Experiences offers testimonials from people involved in the manufacture and articles about horology illustrated with stunning photography.
Forum is for exchange amongst IWC afficiandos and their Facebook page, has over 41,000 Likes.
IWC milestones include: the first digital timepiece created in 1885; the first anti-magnetic watch created for pilots in World War I; a new record for watch water resistance with the Ingenieur that sustains pressure at 2000 meters underwater; the Da Vinci chronograph with a mechanically programmed perpetual calendar for the next five hundred years.