IWC Schaffhausen is one of the best-known and most important watchmakers in the world. In autumn 2018 the company opened a new manufacturing facility in Schaffhausen. The ultra-modern production center combines the skill of the craftsman with a high-tech environment. The new building is not just an investment in the future of IWC, it is also a clear statement of confidence in Schaffhausen in the Greater Zurich Area as a business location.
Innovation, precision and exquisite engineering are the key ingredients of the luxury IWC watches. The company was founded in Schaffhausen in the north of the Greater Zurich Area in 1868 by American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones from Boston, Massachusetts. The aim was to create luxury pocket-watches for the American market. Today, IWC is one of the most famous luxury watch brands in the world – with the potential for further growth, according to CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr. Space at the company’s site in the city center was limited and there was little scope to expand at the downtown location. «A modern manufacturing operation shouldn’t be split up across several buildings and storeys», Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO at IWC Schaffhausen sets out. Instead, the company decided to spend CHF 42m on building a brand new manufacturing facility in which the production of watch cases, watch movements and the assembly process are all on the same storey. Currently, 240 out of a total of 720 IWC employees work at the site which has the capacity to accommodate up to 400 staff.
For Grainger-Herr it was clear that IWC would expand its operation in the Greater Zurich Area rather than move away or offshore the manufacturing operation. "We are a part of Schaffhausen’s industrial history and we are totally committed to this location", he underlines, adding that the location has the key features IWC needs. "We see ourselves as an advanced manufacturing business rather than part of a tradition of artisan watchmaking which defines watchmaking in Western Switzerland", the IWC CEO continues. Schaffhausen’s industrial history features great engineering companies such as SIG and Georg Fischer and the close proximity to Southern Germany, with its automotive engineering companies, means the Greater Zurich Area offers lots of highly-skilled potential recruits. "We benefit from the expertise developed in the precision engineering sector and in automotive manufacturing which is located in and around Schaffhausen and we can apply that to our production processes", Grainger-Herr explains. The result is masterpieces of the watchmaker’s art – haute horlogerie – which combine engineering, precision and exclusive design.
Schaffhausen’s engineering strengths are complemented by other benefits, he outlines. «The environment is very business-friendly and the easy access to Zurich international airport should not be underestimated when you’re running an international business like IWC », he adds.
The entire Greater Zurich Area is also recognized as a great place to live. Grainger-Herr now lives in the Canton of Schaffhausen, having previously commuted daily from Lake Zurich. «Schaffhausen is great for families and offers a brilliant environment for my children to grow up in», says the father of three.
This success story was first published by the Economic Promotion of the canton of Schaffhausen.