The International Watch Company, now known as IWC, was founded by American businessman, Florentine Ariosto Jones in 1868 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. A little over a decade later, the local Rauschenbach family acquired the company and continued to focus on manufacturing high-quality pocket watch movements. It wasn’t long before pocket watches with the famed Pallweber “digital” display, characterized by windows showing the hour and minutes via digits instead of the traditional pointing hands, began leaving IWC’s workshops.
In 1939, two Portuguese businessmen commissioned large timepieces powered by pocket watch movements from IWC. Those custom orders would later serve as the inspiration for the 1998 introduction of the Portuguese (Portugieser) watch, which remains one of IWC's most popular current collections.
IWC introduced its first “Special Pilot’s Watch” in 1936, complete with a rotating bezel with an arrowhead to track flight takeoff times. This watch (along with the W.W.W. wristwatch for the British Army in 1944) would pave the way for IWC’s long and storied history of making aviation and military timepieces, which continues today in the current Pilot’s Watch, Big Pilot’s Watch, and Mark Series collections. During the post-WWII era, IWC began making tool watches and sports watches as illustrated by the introduction of the Ingenieur antimagnetic watch and the Aquatimer diving watch.
In addition to its fantastic pilot, aviation, and sporty watches, IWC also boasts an impressive heritage of making complicated timepieces (including grand complications) featuring minute repeaters, tourbillons, annual calendars, double chronographs, perpetual calendars, and others.
IWCBig Pilot, REF. IW500402
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