Swiss watchmakers

Kim Darnell, laboring to assemble a Page for this blog on postings about Switzerland and the Swiss, passed on a charming BBC News video from the 4th, “The Swiss master watchmaker running out of time”:


Philippe Dufour [born 1948 in Le Sentier, Canton of Vaud, Swtzerland] has been making watches by hand for 50 years but has no-one to pass his skills on to.

He tells the BBC what it means to be one of the very few watchmakers remaining in the craft.

The watches sell for $50,000 and up each — but then each watch takes months of labor to make, and they are artworks in themselves.

I then thought to look for Zwickys in the Swiss watch business, and immediately netted Joëlle Zwicky, at the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen — industrial watchmakers, but at the very high end of the industry. And with an office of Corporate Social Responsibility, which JZ heads.

From IWC’s website, in an interview with JZ:


Joëlle Zwicky, how has corporate responsibility evolved at IWC in recent years?

Sustainability has always been of huge importance at IWC. Even before my time as head of CSR [Corporate Social Responsibility], IWC looked after its employees, supported local causes, made sure there was a good working atmosphere in the company and was careful in its use of resources. Since the CSR department was set up in 2013, the subject of social responsibility has certainly grown in importance and we can now apply a more structured and long­term approach to the issues involved.

All the information I have about JZ is about her business career. I see that she has a Business Administration, but I know nothing about her family background (though I assume it will lead back to Mollis, in Canton Glarus) or her personal life.

The story of the company, again from their website:

(#3) The historic main building at IWC, opened in 1875; the first floor now houses IWC’s watch musum

An American watchmaking pioneer named Florentine Ariosto Jones founded the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen in 1868. He drew on the help of eminently qualified Swiss watchmakers, modern technology and hydropower sourced from the nearby River Rhine to manufacture watch movements of the highest possible quality.

We have been committed to our heritage for almost 150 years. Our mechanical timepieces are handcrafted in our workshops with meticulous attention to detail. Our six watch families combine precision engineering with extraordinary and timeless design, bringing the finest technology and unique emotions to your wrist.

(IWC Schaffhausen has a flagship boutique at 329 N. Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills 90210. I told you they were high-end.)

Brief digression on the absurdly picturesque town of Schaffhausen, from Wikipedia:

Schaffhausen … is a town with historic roots, a municipality in northern Switzerland, and the capital of the canton of the same name; it has an estimated population of 36,000 as of December 2016. It is located right next to the shore of the High Rhine; it is one of four Swiss towns located on the northern side of the Rhine, along with Neuhausen a. Rhf., the historic Neunkirch and Stein a. Rh.

The old portion of the town has many fine Renaissance era buildings decorated with exterior frescos and sculpture, as well as the old canton fortress, the Munot. Schaffhausen is also a railway junction of Swiss and German rail networks. One of the lines connects the town with the nearby Rhine Falls in Neuhausen am Rheinfall, Europe’s largest waterfall, a tourist attraction.

The official language of Schaffhausen is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect.

A map centered on Schaffhausen —

(#4) Parts of three countries (Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein), a chunk of the River Rhine, Lake Constance (Bodensee), three major Swiss cities (Basel, Zürich, Lucerne), and (at the bottom of the map) the fount of Zwickys, the village of Mollis, with its cantonal capital Glarus

Back to IWC Schaffhausen and its wares. A display of most of its watch families:


Then there’s its artistic Da Vinci family, which includes this elegant beauty:

(#4) The Da Vinci Automatic 36

Description from the company:

With its distinctly feminine appeal and an engraving of the “Flower of Life”, this elegant ladies’ watch embodies Leonardo da Vinci’s tireless quest for perfection and aesthetics. (raspberry pink alligator leather strap by Santoni) ($10,800.00 excluding taxes and shipping)

I told you they were high-end.

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