American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones founded The International Watch Company in 1868. His desire was to fuse old world artistry with new world production techniques. This cultural blending of Swiss craftsmanship and American manufacturing soon gave IWC a reputation for supreme reliability and innovation. Following a dynamic period of growth and expansion, IWC Schaffhausen is now one of the finest watchmakers in Switzerland. Buying an IWC watch means owning a true piece of American and Swiss heritage. See what precision engineering can create with our collection of exceptional used IWC watches for sale at Crown & Caliber.
Like many watch companies, IWC has its roots in Switzerland. However, the brand’s founder, Florentine Ariosto Jones, was in fact American. That pioneering American spirit continues to be a core part of the IWC brand today.
Jones was a watchmaker in Boston during the mid-1800s. At the time, the desire for adventure and conquering the unknown led many Americans out west. However, Jones was looking for something different. His passion for watchmaking had always inspired him to look to the Swiss. So in 1868, he travelled to Switzerland and founded the International Watch Company. His goal was to combine the traditional craftsmanship of the Swiss with the modern technologies from the States. Jones was overly ambitious, and the business struggled in the early years. By 1880, he had decided to sell the company, and a man named Johannes Rauschenbach-Vogel took over IWC. His family would continue to run the company for several generations. Under their leadership, the brand introduced several firsts. In 1885, they created the first watches with a digital hour and minutes display called the Pallweber system. Four year later, the brand created its first wristwatch.
The turn of the century brought about another change in leadership for IWC. Ernst Jakob Homberger took over the company in 1905. During his era, IWC began to shift its focus to the production of wristwatches. In 1915, they introduced the first movements specifically designed for wristwatches: the 75 and 76 calibers. In the decades to follow, they would begin to release some of their most iconic models. In 1936, they launched the first "Special Pilot's Watch." The model featured a rotating bezel with an arrowhead index, which allowed pilots to register take-off times. Three years later, the iconic Portuguese debuted. By 1940, the Special Pilot’s Watch was in such high demand IWC built upon the collection with the Big Pilot's Watch. During WWII, IWC was also producing watches for military forces. One of their most notable contributions was a wristwatch designed for the British Army. It featured a unique engraving, "W.W.W.," which stands for "Watch, Wrist, Waterproof."
Following the war, they refocused their attention back on the civilian market. By 1948, they had unveiled another of their most iconic creations: the first Pilot's Watch Mark 11. The model housed the 89 caliber featuring a central seconds hand and extreme accuracy. It also boasted a unique case design that offered incredibly high protection against magnetic fields. In 1955, IWC released yet another one of the brand’s signature models: the Ingenieur. The next decade, one more classic collection was born. The first Aquatimer debuted in 1967.
IWC worked to keep momentum through the quartz era. Though they produced some models with quartz movements, they kept their focus on the brand's watchmaking traditions. The brand introduced the classic Portofino collection in 1984, adding a quintessential dress watch to their offerings. During this decade, they also began experimenting with new materials. IWC created the first watch case constructed from titanium in 1980. Six years later, they employed a scratch-resistant and virtually unbreakable ceramic called zirconium oxide as a new case material.
In 1993, IWC celebrated its monumental 125th anniversary. To commemorate the occasion, the brand debuted the most complicated mechanical wristwatch to date as well as a special edition of the popular Portuguese. They produced the II Destriero Scafusia in a limited edition of just 125 pieces. The model boasted an impressive set of complications, including a tourbillon, split-seconds, minute repeater, and perpetual calendar. A year later, they extended their legendary Mark collection with the Pilot's Watch Mark XII.
At the turn of the century, IWC became part of the illustrious Richemont Group. With a new network and set of resources, IWC was able to revisit the production of past collections and continue to expand on their current offerings. By 2002, the brand had revived the beloved Big Pilot's watch at the annual SIHH exhibition. In 2004, they relaunched the Aquatimer collection, and in 2005, the Ingeniuer made a comeback. Then, in 2007, IWC secured a meaningful partnership with the advanced fighter weapons school, Top Gun. For the first time, the prestigious organization allowed the "Top Gun" name to be associated with a watch brand, and the IWC Top Gun was born.
2008 marked the 140th anniversary of IWC. This time, the brand launched an exclusive IWC Vintage Collection to honor the milestone. Then in 2015, the brand celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Portuguese with an all-new variation of the model. The models housed IWC's newly designed 52000-calibre and boast annual calendar and digital calendar complications.
Today, IWC continues to embody its founder's spirit of innovation. In 2018, they unveiled a state-of-the-art online customization tool for the Ingenieur Chronograph. The launch marked the brand's first foray into built-to-order watches.
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