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IWC was established in 1868 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. In this spotlight, you'll learn about their story and their most famous watch families.
3 Mins

The History of IWC

Lewis Findley
Lewis Findley

IWC - 150 Years of Excellence

Along the River Rhine in a little town called Schaffhausen, you'll find the luxury watchmaker IWC (International Watch Co.) Schaffhausen.

Founded by American watchmaker, Florentine Ariosto Jones in 1868, 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. 

Celebrating their 150th anniversary in 2018, we explored some of their most famous watch families and how they transformed IWC into a watchmaking powerhouse.

IWC Watch Families

IWC along have created an array of watch families that have become pillars of the brand.

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


Video via - IWC


Check out some of IWC's most famous watch families.

Big Pilot's Watch 

Image Via - Mappin & Webb

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.


Image Via - Watches of Switzerland

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.


Image Via - Watches of Switzerland

Paying homage to engineers since 1955, the IWC Ingenieur celebrates the heroes of the technological age.

IWC Ingenieur watches share traits of being scientific and/or technical which benefit a range of activities from exploration to engineering.

In 2013, IWC became the Official Engineering Partner of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Formula 1.

The partnership enabled IWC to embrace their passion of high-level engineering, perfection and performance. 

Da Vinci

Untitled design - 2019-10-02T164516.384

Image Via - Revolution Watch

First released in 1985, This watch family is a celebration of Leonardo Da Vinci, the High Renaissance polymath whose works we still celebrate 500 years later!

The Da Vinci's appeal can be found in its eye-catching design and use of various complications.

When the Da Vinci was first introduced in 1969, it became the first watch to have a Swiss-made quartz movement.

Since its inception, it's gone through some minor changes to make universally appealing.


Image Via - Watches of Switzerland

Elegance meets precision.

The Portofino delicately blends the Mediterranean lifestyle with the art of fine 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.

Final Words

IWC Schaffhausen turned 150 in 2018 and celebrated this milestone by unveiling a special jubilee collection at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH).

The collection featured 27 limited-edition models across their Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s Watch and Da Vinci watch families.

To ensure their watches meet their standards, they are subject to a qualification program consisting of 30 tests. They stimulate everything that could happen to a watch in normal and extreme conditions.

Check out more stories in the journal.