The International Watch Company was established in 1868 by Florentine Ariosto Jones, an American engineer and watchmaker, in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, with the assistance of manufacturer and industrialist Johann Heinrich Moser. Its location in Schaffhausen makes the IWC the only major Swiss watchmaker to set up shop in eastern Switzerland.
Their Ingenieur model of watches -- a design based on the classic IWC Pilot Watch, a line made for the British Royal Air Force in the 1940s -- are specifically designed to counter the effects of external magnetic fields, making them ideal for pilots. The company's Portuguese line is designed for the avid boater; the Da Vinci family of watches pays tribute to the Renaissance inventor; the classic lines of the Portofino line recall Hollywood of the 1950s and movie stars' love for the Italian fishing village; and the IWC's Aquatimer series, along with their support of the Charles Darwin Foundation's preservation efforts, shows the company's history and respect for the diving community.
Montblanc, which was established as a manufacturer of writing instruments in 1906, introduced their first line of Meisterstuck watches in 1997 at the Salon International de Haute Horlogerie. Designed for an energetic lifestyle in robust stainless steel cases, the Sport line was unveiled in 2000.
In a move by Richemont, the owner of Montblanc, the company was annexed in 2006 with Minerva, a watchmaker established in 1858, to create Montblanc Villeret. Shortly after this merger, the company proudly introduced the MB R100, their first caliber manufactured in-house, at the 2008 SIHH. The new division truly made its mark on the haute horlogerie world in 2010 with the introduction of their limited edition Metamorphosis timepiece, a wristwatch that converts between two faces, one a classical dial and the other a chronograph, at the push of a button. Like Montblanc's other watches, the Metamorphosis combines an elegant design and aesthetics while utilizing a creative approach to watchmaking.
Officine Panerai Firenze started suppling the Italian Navy with precision instruments such as calculators, fuses for torpedos, depth meters, and compasses in the 19th century. The demand for an extremely water proof time piece with luminous hands for legibility, led them into the world of horology. Over the past 145 years, the company has evolved from basic blunt instruments into one of the most sought after brands.
Panerai was very quiet through the second half of the 20th century, until the Richemont Group (then Vendome Luxury Group) bought the company in 1997. Richemont relaunched many of the models and they were an immediate international hit.
Roger Dubuis is a growing young Manufacture, begun in 1995 with the partnership of Roger Dubuis and Carlos Dias. Dubuis, a talented watchmaker, founded his own atelier in 1980 after 14 years of developing complications for Patek Philippe. He took commissions to design new complications for major brands for several years before finally drawing designer Carlos Dias away from Franck Muller to launch his own brand. Roger Dubuis was born in Geneva and all of his watches, strongly associated with that culture, are submitted to the quality hallmark of the Poinçon de Genève as well as receiving chronometer certification. Looking at the off-beat models designed by Carlos Dias one can easily lose sight of the watchmaking prowess involved. The limited edition pieces and flamboyant designs are all based on a foundation of solid watchmaking skill and in-house complications.
Roger Dubuis was recently brought into the Richemont group. In addition to improving the availability and distribution of Roger Dubuis timepieces for sale, Richemont has opened a Roger Dubuis repair facility in the U.S. reducing the turnaround time for regular service and repair.