THE EARLY YEARS

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June 22 2021

The heritage of IWC is deeply rooted in American pioneering spirit and entrepreneurship. Florentine Ariosto Jones, a watchmaker from Boston, founds the International Watch Company in 1868. He draws on the help of eminently qualified Swiss watchmakers, modern technology, and hydropower sourced from the nearby River Rhine to manufacture pocket watch movements of the highest possible quality. The Rauschenbachs, an industrialist family from Schaffhausen, take over the company following Jones’ return to the United States. During its early years, IWC produces pocket watches with a digital “Pallbearer” display, as well as wristwatches for women and men.


Following the death of Johannes Rauschenbach-Schenk, Schaffhausen industrialist Ernst Jakob Homberger takes over the company. This era sees the birth of two watch families which are still true icons to this day. The first “Spezialuhr für Flieger” establishes the tradition of producing Pilot’s Watches in Schaffhausen, which, thanks to their unmistakable design, are still popular across the world today. As Portuguese importers order a series of large wristwatches with high-precision pocket watch calibres, the first Portugieser model leaves IWC’s workshops.

The post-war years are characterized by the increased use of technology in people’s everyday lives. More and more appliances create magnetic fields which can negatively impact the accuracy of mechanical watches. It is during this time that Albert Pellaton becomes Technical Director at IWC Schaffhausen. Among his inventions are the extremely accurate 89 calibre, or the soft-iron inner case, which protects watch movements against magnetic fields. He also develops a particularly efficient bidirectional pawl-winding system, which shoots to fame as the Pellaton winding system.


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