One of the horological world’s true innovators
IWC’S RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PIONEER – AND INVENTOR OF THE GAME-CHANGING CROWN-OPERATED PERPETUAL CALENDAR MECHANISM – LOOKS BACK ON FIVE DECADES OF LUXURY WATCHMAKING. “I SAW THE EVOLUTION FROM THE PENCIL TO THE MOUSE,” HE SAYS.
for the watch industry when I started with IWC in 1957. For the first 25 years, our main focus was to make the most accurate mechanical timepieces. But a series of crises – the quartz revolution and economic upheavals – took its toll. The company’s staff size decreased by almost two-thirds at one point to only 100-plus employees.”
It wakes people up. When IWC was faced with challenges, it forced us to think out of the box. For example, we couldn’t fight on accuracy or costs during the advent of quartz watches, so we moved in the direction of new mechanical features. We started with simple moon-phase complications. Their success provided the impetus for the development of the perpetual calendar, arguably our most famous complication.”
the perpetual calendar movement without the aid of computers. I literally saw the evolution from the pencil to the mouse. Today, IWC’s R&D department is four times bigger. In the past, it was pretty much a one-man team. Now we have about two persons assigned to one project. And there are various department heads, specialists for calculations, drawings and engineering and such.”
The product, design and construction processes – everything is more advanced now. What hasn’t changed is the watchmaking. The watchmakers are still assembling prototypes and watches as I did 50 years ago. Computers are fantastic tools. But they do not create stuff, people do.”