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We are proud to introduce IWC into our watch brand repertoire. IWC’s strong watchmaking heritage, various product families, vast selection at different price points and dedication to philanthropic endeavors make up the brand’s DNA. Below you will read about the history and innovation of the company and the individual collections that make up the IWC brand.
The International Watch Company (IWC) was founded in 1868 by Florentine Ariosto Jones. A Boston native, Jones wanted to industrialize the process of watchmaking. He traveled to Switzerland (at the time Switzerland offered cheap labor) and stayed in Schaffhausen because its close proximity to the river meant energy for his factory. His goal was to marry American production technologies with the skilled craftsmanship for which Swiss watchmakers were famous. Jones adopted the assembly line for watchmaking. He had different craftsmen working on polishing, assembling the movement, etc. Today, IWC can track watches to the watchmakers that made it.
Innovation at IWC
Albert Pellaton joined IWC in 1944 as the head of technical design. He created the bi-directional winding system for maximum energy creation with minimum movement. This meant that the rotor could turn clockwise or counter-clockwise to wind the watch.
In 1970 the Japanese flooded the market with quartz watches (a period known as the quartz crisis). Fortunately, Kurt Klaus who would become the next head of technical design for IWC (following Pellaton) would come up with the answer to this crisis. IWC would find a way to sell the wearer a piece of eternity.
Klaus was the inventor and design engineer of IWC autonomous perpetual calendar in 1985. This was the first time ever that a watch allowed a 4 digit year display. This was also the first time someone put together a complication in which all of the displays could be manipulated by the crown. To this day, Klaus’ perpetual calendar design is still used. The movement has unparalleled accuracy, and only has to be adjusted 1 day every 577 years!
Gunter Blutlein was the CEO of IWC from 1982 to 2001 when Richemont purchased IWC. While in this position, Blutlein decided to stop engineering watches for women. Considering 35% of the customer base at the time were women, this was a surprising decision. Blutlein followed up his decision with marketing campaigns and slogans dubbing IWC “a watch for men”. The first collection geared toward women after Blutlein was the relaunch of the Portofino in 2015.
In the mid-1930s two Portuguese businessmen challenged the watchmakers at IWC to create a technology that was as accurate as marine chronometers and could be worn on their wrist. The watch created had a pocket watch movement for precision. In 1939, the first “Portuguese” watch was created. IWC later changed the name to “Portugieser” because they had a hard time trademarking the “Portuguese” name.
Portugieser is the widest range of complication for IWC. It is also the most popular collection within the brand. Simple Arabic numerals, slim hands, and a railway-track-style chapter ring design of the Portugieser collection originated in the 1930s. The railway-track-style ring makes it easy to read the time precisely and blends perfectly into the dial.
Portugieser Automatic IW500710
Born in 1984, the Portofino collection was inspired by Portofino, Italy- a relaxing haven for the rich during the 1970s and 1980s. To coincide with the laid-back luxury of this area, the Portofino design was clean and had few complications. The Portofino collection is the only family in IWC with roman numerals on the dials. It is also recognizable by the flat, thin case and assortment of leather bracelets.
The Pilot collection, called Pilot as it was originally designed for Pilots, was introduced in 1936. The first models were 55 mm watches for increased legibility. Although the case size has decreased, maximum legibility is still the priority. The big dial and thin bezel leaves space for the dial to show the time. In Pilot models, the crown is uniquely shaped. It was designed to give pilots the ability to operate their watch with gloves on when cockpits were unheated. Pilot watches also have the soft iron intercase to protect the movement from the strong magnetic fields from the radars on the plane.
Within the Pilot collection there are 5 families: Top Gun, Le Petit Prince, Classic, Antoine de Saint-Exupery and Spitfire. Le Petit Prince timepieces are modeled after the literary work of author Antoine de Saint-Exupery whose story “The Little Prince” is one of the best-selling books in literary history. Each of these special edition watches has the little prince with his sword and cape engraved on the back.
The Aquatimer, a diver’s watch, debuted in 1967. This watch is known from a technology standpoint. IWC patented a new safe dive bezel with the capability to rotate both directions without the inner dial rotating which keeps it from breaking during dives. In order to resurface safely, divers must be aware of how long they have been diving. Thanks to the green and blue Super-LumiNova luminescent coatings, the wearer is able to easily read the time in the darkest underwater conditions.
They also pioneered a self-cleaning system which expels particles suck in the bezel when the bezel is turned. Aquatimer watches come with an easy-to-remove straps- a rubber strap for diving can easily be switched to a stainless steel bracelet in seconds.
The first Ingenieur watch was born in 1955 and pays homage to engineers of the technological age. It became increasingly important in the 1980s when Europe was industrializing. During that time, people were working around magnetic fields which have the power to stop watches. To prevent this, Ingenieur watches were made with a soft iron intercase that protected the movement from magnetic fields.
Ingenieur timepieces typically use materials that are popular in motorsports, such as ceramic and titanium, which helps highlight their technical yet sporty character.
The simple design of the Da Vinci recalls the iconic design code from 1985, the year the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar implemented authentic elements inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci. Articulated strap horns and curved lugs are characteristic features of Da Vinci timepieces. These allow straps to fit snugly on the wrist.
Let us help you find your new IWC timepiece! To inquire about a timepiece, please contact Derek at 317.844.9003. To inquire about this blog, please contact Lauren at 317.844.9003.