After the SIHH watch fair, we took the train from Geneva to the German speaking side of Switzerland to visit the offices and factory of watchmaker IWC. Located about an hour outside of Zurich, the town of Schaffhausen is a small enclave on the Rhine river that has become famous for high end watch manufacturing. The IWC headquarters look almost exactly as you would expect. The older part of the building was at one point merged with a perfectly modern, clean and stylish building expansion. The resulting structure is classic and modern all together in one piece. The interiors of the office are outfitted almost exclusively with USM Modular furniture, which made me feel like I was in a Star Destroyer, or at least a Nebulon-B frigate. What I’m trying to say is the place is pretty space aged and cool.
The actual watch makers are located in one of the oldest parts of the main building on the upper floors. There are windows everywhere and the whole space is flooded with natural light. Just to be clear, there is nothing old about anything in this place, except maybe some of the old world manufacturing techniques that are being used to craft the IWC watches. The people working in the factory take measures to keep everything clean and ergonomically correct. The process of making watches is obviously very challenging physically, and IWC has done everything it can to try and maintain as comfortable a process as possible. To this end, everyone working in the factory wears special slipper like shoes and all work at especially designed desks which help to make assembly easier. The watchmakers sit low in their chairs with their arms in special padded nooks on the top of their workspace. After taking a watchmaking class at the end of our factory tour I can say that the working stance looks crazier than it feels when you are working. It feels right when you are focusing on manipulating tiny objects with tiny tools. You can see examples of how the watchmakers work in some of the photos below.
For me to get to see the inner-workings of IWC and how the watches are made is an amazing opportunity. It is also one I am excited to share here. Hope you enjoy. Seeing this place really drove home how much goes into making one of these timepieces.