KURT KLAUS

24-7 (Singapore) - - Contents -

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.”

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