IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN, MANUFACTURING PERFECTION

As IWC continued to celebrate its yearlong celebration of its 150th anniversary, the second phase of celebrations was unveiled during September 2018

After launching the new Jubilee Collection earlier in the year, they opened the doors to their state of the art manufacturing centre (Manufakturzentrum)  just outside the brand’s ancestral home of Schaffhausen, Switzerland.

Completed in just 21 months and worth CHF 42 million, IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr, insists the new centre captures the traditions of IWC Schaffhuasen, in its melding of traditional watchmaking techniques with modern production technology. Grainger-Herr says. “The building has more to offer than just optimal conditions for production and excellent working conditions for our employees – it also embodies the spirit of the IWC brand and allows visitors from all over the world to see up close how our manufacture movements and cases are produced.”

The impressive 13,500-square-meter structure, with a black framed glass facade and white, flat roofing, brings together under one roof the production of movement components as well as the assembly of in-house movements and cases. A state-of-the-art building developed with such precision itself, boasts a full cleanroom environment allowing fifty thousand cubic meters of air to be circulated through the building every hour, ensuring that the environment is higher than the surrounding atmospheric pressure and thus making it harder for dust particles to enter.

Its luxuriously appointed 9-meter-high entrance lobby offers direct access to the movement-component production workshop in which approximately 1,500 different components are produced, including essential pieces for IWC’s self-winding Caliber 52 and 82 families, its manual-winding Caliber 59 family, and its chronograph Caliber 69 family. These include large pieces such as mainplates, bridges, and rotors, as well as smaller elements like switching levers and springs, all the way up to components used in high-horology pieces like tourbillons and annual and perpetual calendars.

As you move on throughout the factory and witness each stage through the precise watchmaking construction, the traditions set by IWC Founder Florentine Ariosto Jones can be easily noted. Computer controlled machines making the precise parts with tolerances of a just few 1/1000ths of a millimetre, working flawlessly alongside experienced watch-making engineers as they assemble the key components, shows IWC have developed the perfect balance of traditional watch making with the assistance of modern technology.

IWC’s new Manufakturzentrum includes 238 workstations (with a capacity for 400) and uses 2,200 square meters of solar panels to deliver 275,000 kilowatt-hours of clean power per year. This is all in keeping with the building’s design, which IWC’s architecturally trained CEO says was inspired by modernist exhibition pavilions. “This blend of gallery, workshop and engineering trade fair seemed to me to be a fitting architectural foundation on which to base the design, and the classical modernist style is an excellent match for our brand,” says Grainger-Herr. “We are a manufacturer with a 150-year history, but we are also a manufacturer that looks to the future. This is perfectly encapsulated in modernist architecture. Rather than backwards-looking neoclassicism, it is a classical interpretation with a nod to the future.”

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