HE’S GOT RANGE Why this digital specialist cannot get enough of mechanical timepieces.
The new integrated IWC Manufakturzentrum covers a stunning 13,500 sq m in total area, but its expansiveness is not an end in itself. It was designed with growth and versatility in mind. With a maximum capacity of 400, there is room for almost double its current workforce of 239.
02 LEADING THE WAY
Christoph GraingerHerr, who officially took up the position of CEO at IWC in April 2017, is an architect and interior designer by training. He helped to design the new facility, which he likens to a “modernist pavilion”.
03 MATERIAL WORLD
Case production is carried out in the basement. Next to the case production area are bars of metals used for watch cases, including steel, titanium, bronze and the brand’s own Ceratanium, a mix of titanium and ceramic boasting the lightness and scratch-resistance, respectively, of both materials.
04 MOVEMENT ASSEMBLY
Movement assembly is carried out in a class-seven clean room (more on that later). While small-series movements such as that of the Tribute to Pallweber watch and complex modules like the perpetual calendar are still assembled the traditional, A-to-Z way over at headquarters, the line system applies to the assembly of all the movements at the Manufakturzentrum. These comprise the automatic movements of Calibre families 52 and 82, the Calibre family 59 hand-wound movements, and the Calibre 69 chronograph movements; as well as the new Portugieser Chronograph movement.
Explains IWC COO Andreas Voll: “Before one watchmaker was doing one movement from A to Z. Now, we have broken down the whole assembly process into multiple sub-processes, which allows us to assign dedicated watchmaking specialists to each production step.”
The expansive spaces between stations allow for greater versatility in quickly reorganising the assembly lines – an important feature that allows IWC to react to fast-changing market demands.
05 MOVEMENT- PART PRODUCTION
The building houses key processes such as case and movementpart production, as well as movement assembly. Some 1,500 parts are produced at the movementcomponent production workshop. These include components for base movements, as well as those for complications such as perpetual calendars, annual calendars and tourbillons. Because of the very low tolerances required for these parts – think accuracy to the thousandths of a millimetre – most of the processes here are automated.
Components are later moved to the movement decoration department, where white-coated workers perform their tasks adroitly alongside machines. We saw a young woman apply perlage – or circular engraving – to a small, skeletonised rotor, while a machine nearby
applied a similar decoration to bigger movement plates.
06 CLEAN WARDROBE
Watchmakers have to change into special, anti-static coats before entering the classseven clean room where movement assembly takes place.
Explains Voll: “This means you have a tenfold air exchange per hour. In our 1,200 sq m movement assembly area, that means we have an exchange of 50,000 cubic metres of air per hour. We have two separate airlocks that employees and the watchmakers have to pass before getting into the room.” Also, the pressure here is kept above atmospheric levels, which further helps to keep dust out.
07 VISITOR INTERACTION
Two watchmaker workstations let visitors get hands on with tools of the trade.
Moving forward, the brand expects to host more than 10,000 visitors to the Man ufa kt ur zen tr um each year. There will be guided tours that are open to IWC customers, the media and the public. In fact, says GraingerHerr: “Our next phase is to digitalise this experience; to make the Man ufa kt ur zen tr um an experience for everybody around the globe. I’d love to do direct questionand-answer sessions from here that will be broadcast.”