Though they look simple from outside, watches are not even close to being simple at all. They are irreplaceable accessories for most of us with their utmost engineering and workmanship.
Last week, I attended to an exclusive tour to IWC, together with press members, retailers and VIP clients. It was absolutely a thrilling experience for all the participants. We are deeply impressed upon the natural beauty of Schaffhausen beside what we saw regarding traditional watch making.
In order to get to Schaffhausen, you have to fly to Zurich first and drive afterwards. After a smooth journey, we check in to the hotel which is 15 minutes by walk to IWC Head Quarters.
We passed through the center and reach our first stop after the breakfast. The building ( built in 1874 ) is located near the famous river Rhine. Being used for manufacturing watches by IWC for 140 years, the building is built over a fruit garden which originally belongs to a monastery.
We are welcomed sincerely by our tour guide. We move in to the briefing room where we are scheduled to get general information about the brand. After the introductory video and information, we start to feel the excitement for the 140 years old story.
We look at the pleasant view of the Rhine for a while and then move on to the IWC’s other facility in Neuhausen.
This is the second facility of the brand around the region. During our chat with the executives, we have been gladly informed that the newest facility of IWC is about to be completed. With this new building, the brand will have the opportunity to get all it’s operations at the same place. There are a plenty of operations and processes are effected within this facility varying from manufacturing watch cases out of different materials to laser processing and galvanizing.
We totally feel amazed upon entering the section in charge for finishing semi-built watch cases. Each individual case gets finished by it’s own exclusive equipment. The workers sound pretty confident that, they say they can notice a watch’s finishing quality without taking out of a shirt’s cuff to reveal it’s details.
IWC’s management is very sensitive about the workers’ opinions especially for the stages that require hand crafting. There is a board being used to share the ideas of the workers in the entrance of the atelier. The best idea gets picked and shown in a special part of the board.
The technology IWC employs is definitely the highest available at the moment. Unfortunately, I can not share those details with you as it was not allowed to take photos within the facility but, I assure you what I witnessed was worth seeing.
We are amazed again with the processes of jewel mounting and micro molding.
Before we move on with the final part after Neuhausen, we take a short lunch break.
The river Rhine has an important place for transportation. Starting from south east of Alps, the 1230kms river has many small castles located at the sides.
There is one small castle right in front of the restaurant we stop by for lunch. We also feel pleased for standing before the greatest falls of Europe. The river Rhine also sets the boarder line between two big cantons of Switzerland Zurich and Schaffhausen.
Our tour goes on. As we all know that we do not have much time left, we go back to the main facility in Schaffhausen and take a look at the assembly line. The workers are quite young. You can easily see their joy for their profession. They manage to keep fully focused though we enter the room not so quietly.
We put our white master watch maker uniforms afterwards as we are about to enter the section where the complication time pieces are produced. We experience one of best moments of our tour. Trying hard not to ruin his focus, I start watching the watch maker closely while he is assembling the Double Chronograph version of “ Petite Prince “ which I fell in love with it’s sliding stars. I notice an un-familiar time piece at the other desk. I ask about the watch and find out it is a brand new product. We are kindly asked to remain silent for this particular model so I will keep my word but, I can tell you to get ready for a stunning new model from IWC.
Afterwards we move to the museum which will take us to a journey in time.
The museum is linitially ocated at the attic of the facility and it was opened at 1993 - 125th anniversary of the brand. IWC eventually got the title for being first to have such a museum in a watch manufacturing facility. In 2007, the section was renovated and moved to the base floor of the building in order to present the pieces. Presenting approx. 250 pieces inside, the museum makes you appreciate the brand’s achievements once again.
The museum is divided in to two different sections as east and west.
On the west side you are welcomed with the pocket watches and vintage movements. As you move close to present time, you notice very first samples of the Porsche Design products which bear great importance for the brand.
On the east side, you get to see the entire product range presented individually. The time pieces who witnessed the evolution of the brand are presented in the museum as well.
Afterwards we pass to the section where the up to date collection is being shown.
I never had the chance to try so many models in such a short time frame before. All the tour group members literally jump over the watches and take countless pictures.
Our moments of excitement takes a break by a small show from one of the brand’s best complications - Minute Repeater. What we hear is a beautiful, solid tone.
After those moments of joy, we come to the end of another pleasant experience. Our gifts are handed to us before we leave for the airport.
IWC regularly hosts those kind of visits during the year. The factory is a must to see for the brand’s loyal followers as it’s a great pleasure to see the processes that your time piece pass through before getting on to your wrist.
The brand’s web site also features the information for factory tours.
Stay tune for our up coming factory visits by Horobox.