30 Apr An Introduction to IWC Schaffhausen Watches
IWC Schaffhausen – which stands for International Watch Company – is a luxury watch brand with a long and unique history, based on innovative concepts that make it stand out in the haute horlogerie market today. With designs that are truly unique compared to other luxury watch offerings, this brand has long staked its own place in the watch making world.
The origins of the brand can be found in Switzerland, but – perhaps somewhat surprisingly in the world of haute horlogerie – the founder of the company was not Swiss by nationality. Instead, IWC Schaffhausen was created by Florentine Ariosto Jones, who was an American engineer and watchmaker.
Jones had an ambition to make watches in Switzerland alongside the watching making greats of the region, although he brought his unique perspective and experience to the endeavour. He was inspired by the quality of watches made in Switzerland, but also tempted by the cheaper labour that could be found in Europe at the time compared to in the United States of America.
One aspect of Jones’ vision that was absolutely unique was the idea to produce watches in one central facility, rather than follow the traditional family and small atelier production methods that the Swiss conventionally adhered to. As a result, when Jones initially proposed his plans for this unusual type of production, his ideas were met with scepticism.
However, Jones was eventually successful in establishing is won matchmaking facility in 1868 in Schaffhausen – hence the name IWC Schaffhausen – and the company has remained here ever since its inception.
In establishing this centralised watch making facility, Jones was fortunate to meet Heinrich Moser, who was a fellow entrepreneur and watchmaker. Moser himself was the founder of another famous luxury watch brand, H. Moser & Cie. It was Moser’s inspired ideas to take advantage of resources in Schaffhausen that encouraged Jones to do the same with IWC.
Moser had the idea of using hydroelectric power generated by Schaffhausen’s Rhine Falls, which was crucial to provide an effective power supply for the machinery in the watch factories of his company. Furthermore, the city itself had excellent rail links, making it ideally situated for transporting goods around Europe and beyond.
Since its inception, IWC Schaffhausen has also distinguished itself on the style of its watches as well as its production methods. The tagline of the brand is “Engineered for men”, and this company has predominantly focused on styling its products in order to meet typically masculine tastes.
This has meant that the brand has consistently favoured functionality over form, and has avoided adornments such as enamelling and gem-set cases that other haute horlogerie brands from Geneva typically feature. Instead, the company has focused on creating practical and robust watches that have become popular with certain clientele.
In fact, this innovation and originality has helped IWC Schaffhausen win over its own distinct client base, and many of its watches have become well-loved classics. The brand is continuing to innovate however, as can be seen with its mid-size Portofino models of watch. Differing significantly from the typical IWC style, these surprised the industry upon their launch.
Featuring diamond-set bezels and mother of pearl dials, these models are a step away from the staunchly masculine traits of typical IWC watches. However, many consider this move to be one of commercial genius and continuing innovation by the brand.
Models of IWC Schaffhausen watches can currently be found on the brand new and used watch markets for varying prices, with second hand models often being a very affordable option for those on a budget who are keen to own a timepiece from this timeless and unique luxury watch brand.