The IWC Story: Probus Scafusia and a Pioneering Spirit


Probus Scafusia; good, solid craftsmanship from Schaffhausen.

The International Watch Company’s motto truly represents the company’s values and their aim to continue to innovate and craft state-of-the-art timepieces.

The brand is celebrating their 150th anniversary this year, and to mark this momentous occasion, they have unveiled a Jubilee collection inspired by some of its most iconic watches, such as the Portofino and the Portugieser. IWC have a rich heritage in pioneering technology, superb design, adventurous spirit and outstanding craftsmanship – for these reasons, their watches have become incredibly popular across the world.

Early History of IWC

The story of IWC begins in 1868 with American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones. He had been a director of E. Howard & Co, a leading American watchmaking company, before founding IWC.

Jones’ goal was to create high-quality pockets watches for the American market, so he created the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen, and, in a short period of time, set up a strongly industrialised infrastructure in this Swiss town capable of manufacturing 10,000 movements every year. In 1875, Jones had to return to America. Despite the fact that his calibres were of the highest quality possible at the time, he couldn’t meet his shareholders’ expectations.

The Rauschenbach family took over the company in 1880 and began selling the watches across the world. The first Pallweber timepieces with digital displays were manufactured in 1884 and, in the first half of the 1890s, IWC produced 20,000 handless watches. The brand’s first wristwatches started being sold from 1899.

IWC in the 1900s

In 1905, Ernst Jakob Homberger became the proprietor of the company and successfully led it through the challenging economic times of the 1930s.

In 1936, the first “Spezialuhr für Flieger” established the tradition of manufacturing Pilot’s Watches. After Portuguese importers ordered large wristwatches with high-precision pocket watch calibres, the first Portugieser model was created. In 1944, IWC unveiled its first W. W. W. (Watch, Wrist, Waterproof), a wristwatch for military use by the British Army.

The brand cooperated with designer F. A. Porsche to create the first wristwatch with an inbuilt compass in 1978 and, in 1985, the company released the Da Vinci model, which became the first chronograph to feature a perpetual calendar mechanically programmed for the next 500 years.

The famous “Calibre 89” movement was launched soon after and powered the company’s mechanical IWC models from the 1940s until the early 1990s.

In 1990, the company’s Grande Complication chronograph wristwatch was launched; this watch was considered the most complicated in the world and only 125 were made. The brand’s GST sports watch collection was introduced in 1997 and, the year after, the Pilot’s Watch UTC (universal time Coordinated) was launched.

IWC Today

At the start of the new millennium, IWC was taken over by Richemont; its CEO is currently Christoph Grainger-Herr, who took on the role of leadership in 2017.

2000 saw the appearance of the extra-large 5000 calibre watch and, in 2004, IWC added new models to their Portofino and Da Vinci collections. In 2008, IWC partnered up with the German Football Association with a Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition DFB in the UEFA European Championship.

The International Watch Company has expanded rapidly and became a luxury watch brand renowned and beloved around the world. From its connection to aviation to its association with the world of sports, IWC has created truly iconic watches that are the perfect blend of design and technology.

As of today, IWC continues to innovate their technology, be it with the digital perpetual calendar, the IWC SafeDive system, or the new material Ceratanium®.

Image: IWC Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Watch

What IWC Stands For

IWC has made a name for itself in the luxury horology world, and its models boast a rich tradition and bold innovation. Since its inception, the brand has pioneered increasingly innovative timepieces crafted with exquisite attention to detail.

Known for their high-quality, IWC watches are also a symbol of the entrepreneurial spirit that built the company at a time when the predominant maxim was to ‘go west’.

This global brand stands out for its focus on impeccable technology, extraordinary craftsmanship, and timeless and elegant aesthetics. Engineered to perfection and built to last a lifetime, IWC watches are an exceptional combination of tradition and innovation.

IWC watches have become synonym with Haute Horlogerie and, at Banks Lyon, we are honoured to be part of this Swiss brand’s historical journey. We are now the largest stockists of IWC watches between Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds and you can enquire about our IWC products by calling us on 01524 38 10 20 (Lancaster) or 01539 73 03 00 (Kendal). You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.