24 May, 2018

Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight – IWC Schaffhausen

Along the River Rhine in a petite little town called Schaffhausen, you'll find the luxury watchmaker IWC (International Watch Co.) whose links to the area go back over 140 years.

Established back in 1868 by American watchmaker, Florentine Ariosto Jones, he sought to combine American production technologies with skilled watchmaking to create high-quality pocket watches for the American market.

Schaffhausen itself is not renowned for watchmaking as most luxury watchmakers have based themselves in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. However, it was here where Florentine found the ideal setting for his new business. A modern factory, a hydropower plant and tradition.

IWC Watch Family

IWC have many well-known watch models of which carry their own story, philosophy and influence. 

Big Pilot's Watch 

Their oldest model. The Big Pilots' Watch was first launched in 1936. Made to be resistant to temperatures ranging from -40 to +40 degrees Celsius, they have been on the wrists of pilots for over 80 years.

With the Mark 11, 12 and 13 boasting the latest technology at the time, you can usually spot The Big Pilot's watches with their iconic arrow which replaces the 12th-hour marker.


Debuting in 1939, The Portugieser was inspired by two Portuguese merchants who asked IWC to create a timepiece with the precision of a pocket watch.

Sporting a massive dial, railway track chapter ring and simple design, it's become one of the most recognisable models from IWC and still maintains its iconic design philosophy almost 80 years later.


Paying homage to engineers since 1955, the IWC Ingenieur celebrates the heroes of the technological age. Their partnership with the AMG Mercedes F1 team shows their commitment to celebrating the feats of engineers.


First launched in 1967 in response to the growing popularity of scuba diving, IWC have been helping divers explore new depths of the ocean for over 50 years.

Trivia - IWC Aquatimers can operate 200 feet below sea level. 

Da Vinci

First released in 1969, The Da Vinci was a revolution in Swiss Watchmaking due to it being the first with quartz movement. Celebrating almost 50 years, The Da Vinci's appeal can be found in its eye-catching design and use of various complications.


Elegance meets precision. The Portofino delicately blends the Mediterranean lifestyle with style and grace of watchmaking. First launched in 1984, the Portofino's simplistic design has made it become one of the most successful models for IWC for both men and women.

To get a better idea of the story behind their models, take a look at this video from IWC!

Ensuring the IWC Timepieces

Luxury Watchmakers are famed for their ability to make their timepieces last for generations to come. To achieve this, it means testing their watches to the limits. Here are some of the ways in which IWC ensure the quality of their watches.

A qualification program consisting of 30 tests which stimulate everything that can happen to a watch in normal and extreme conditions.

IWC complete the early manufacture of vital components to put them through wear and tear tests. For example, the bezel for the Aquatimer will be subject to a fatigue test of up to 4 dives a day.

Climate tests also fall into the vigorous tests IWC use. They subject their watches to temperatures ranging from -20 to 70 degrees celsius and a staggering 95% humidity. This test can last from a few days to a few weeks to replicate the conditions of places around the world.

Final Words

IWC Schaffhausen turned 150 this year and to celebrate this milestone, the company unveiled a special jubilee collection at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH) which is an annual watch fair held in Geneva. You can read more about SIHH here. It featured 27 limited-edition models across their Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s Watch and Da Vinci models.

Throughout their history, IWC have pushed the boundaries of watchmaking with the first quartz movement and also a titanium case. There is no doubt IWC will look to make more iconic timepieces and we look forward to writing about it! If you want to take a look at the watch which transformed their business then click here.

If you liked this article then hit the share button. If you want to continue with our Luxury Watchmaking Series then check our next article 'Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: Panerai'  here.

Take a look at the selection of Luxury Watches we have available weekly by clicking the link below.

Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: IWC
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: IWC
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: IWC
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: IWC
Luxury Watchmaking Spotlight: IWC