IWC – A Brand History

The International Watch Company (or IWC) is a luxury Swiss watch brand; but founded by an American watchmaker back in 1868. Engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones had the vision to create a new watch brand, which combined the Swiss’ legendary craftsmanship with more modern US technology and watch parts. This perfect fusion of quality movements and up-to-date parts would be perfect for selling to the large US watch market. His plan was to have the watches assembled in Switzerland and then imported back to the United States – hence the name International Watch Company.

In the formative years of the company, Jones set-up a factory in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, near the river Rhine. The location was so that the company could harness the water from the river to generate cheap hydro-power for the facility and keep the production costs down. The factory was opened in 1875, with 196 people working initially in the 45 metre long facility.

Due to unforeseen problems with both import taxes and technical capabilities, IWC was taken over twice in the space of a few years. It wasn’t until Johannes Raschenbach-Vogel bought the company that the brand’s fortunes would change. Johannes Raschenbach-Vogel bought IWC at auction for 280,000 francs in February 1880, and four generations of the Raschenbach family owned IWC with varying names. Following the takeover, the company went from strength to strength, with many technical advances made and sales increasing dramatically.

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