IWC: International Watch Co.:
International Watch Company (IWC) was founded in 1869 by Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841-1916), an American.
He set up the business in Schaffhausen on the banks of the Rhine in German-speaking north-east Switzerland. He had worked for the Howard Watch & Clock Company in Roxbury, Boston, MA for a number of years. Learning from his experiences with Howard, Jones decided to set up a company in Switzerland, the world's center of watchmaking at the time. He was eager to tap into some of the most qualified watchmakers in the world to provide a high quality pocket watches for the American market.
Interestingly, the machines in the factories were powered mechanically by the waters of the Rhine River. Jones built a dam to capture water and use it to run the presses and lathes.
Unfortunately, high tariffs for imported goods prevented IWC watches from competing in the American marketplace. The extra cost made the watches much more expensive than Elgin's and Waltham's and sales were weak. In addition to this, Jones was running out of capital. By 1874 the company was in serious financial stress. Jones tried to bring in new investors unsuccessfully. By 1875 the company filed for bankruptcy.
A group of Swiss watchmaking investors stepped in and bought out IWC. Frederick Seeland became the company's new leader. The company made some improvements to manufacturing, and had some brief success, but it wasn't enough to save the company, which failed for a second time and was placed up for sale once again.
A single shareholder, Johannes Rascherbach-Vogel, bought the company at auction. The new owner was just what the company needed. Manufacturing was modernized and new innovative watch designs soon followed. The company was now putting out watches whose quality, construction, and design was unparalleled at the time. The company flourished as it moved into the new century.
In the period between WWI and WWII the company declined yet once again. It was actually the advent of WWII that saved the company from certain demise. There was a tremendous demand for oversized pilots watches and chronographs. IWC modernized their operations and began producing watches for the war- sales increased quickly. The company produced the Mark X and the Mark XI which are extremely sought after by collectors today.
In the 60's 70's and 80's IWC managed to do something that so many others could not.... They stayed in business. They continued to manufacture mechanical watches and high quality quartz watches that gained so much popularity in the 70's. A collection of watches were designed by Ferdinand Porsche which are still made today. The company also prides itself in keeping other watch companies guessing. They designed and manufactured the Vinci chronograph with perceptual calendar and moonphase which is designed to run for 500 years!!
In 1993 they stunned the watch world with the Il Destriero which was dubbed the most advanced and complicated watch in the world.
IWC still manufactures watches of the highest quality today.