IWC has just recently completed the new Manufakturzentrum. The workshop is located near the Swiss town of Schaffhausen. The brand took only 21 months to complete. The completion of this workshop in the same year as the 150th anniversary of the founding of the brand is very meaningful. The black frame of the glass facade of the workshop building contrasts sharply with the white flat roof extending upwards. Within Manufakturzentrum, IWC mainly integrates the production of movement parts, self-made movements and watch cases. Such unified management of the production process can ensure the highest efficiency in the production process and make the product quality more perfect.
Manufakturzentrum workshop exterior front door
Manufakturzentrum workshop lobby reception
Home base for production of movement parts
When entering the interior of Manufakturzentrum, you will first see the 9-meter-high hall, and the movement parts manufacturing workshop has a clear view from the entrance. About 1,500 movement parts are produced here, including the brand 52 and 82 series automatic movements, the 59 series hand-wound movements, and the 69 series chronograph movements. In addition to the aforementioned parts, it can also produce parts such as bottom plates, plywood, automatic disks, and small parts such as horses, hairsprings, and latches. Some are so small that they are almost invisible to the naked eye. This department will also be responsible for the main parts of complex functions such as IWC perpetual calendar, annual calendar and tourbillon.
A mechanical watch is a very delicate and complicated mechanical device, which requires hundreds of single parts to run non-stop in order to function. Therefore, the requirement for accuracy
Extremely high. For example, in the final stage of the milling process, the bottom plate of the 52 series movement must have about 400 geometric cuts; only a minimum error range of about a thousandth of a millimeter can be tolerated. This is why most of the current steps in manufacturing movement parts are automated. Only state-of-the-art computer-operated turning-milling machines can produce parts that meet standards.
Watchmaker’s Locker Room
Parts inspection room
Plating parts are also in the business scope
Movement parts are finished at the Manufakturzentrum plating station. The main purpose of this step is to make the parts resistant to corrosion and to look shiny. For example, a protective coating made of nickel or rhodium keeps brass parts shiny, does not cause patina, and has a silvery white finish. The process of making engraved movement parts is particularly complicated. For example, the cover of the barrel needs to be fully gold-plated before being engraved and then coated. After grinding the parts out of the Geneva corrugations, they are then rhodium-plated and the remaining coating is rinsed clean. In this way, the engraved parts will flash golden light.
Metal Parts Storage & Development Studio
Movement assembly department
Manual assembly is key
From the manufacture of movement parts to assembly of the movement, the process is seamless. Although most of the movement parts are manufactured by machines, the delicate operation of assembling the homemade movement must still be done manually. There is no way for any machinery to combine such complex mechanisms at this stage. Before the assembly process begins, the base plate and plywood will first form the basic movement, and then form a unit with some other parts. These assembled parts are then sent to the assembly line with the stock parts.
The production line concept for movement assembly is further developed from the visionary idea of the brand founder Jones. Break up the assembly process into several sub-processes, allowing the brand to delegate experts in different fields at each step.
Because only a small amount of dust will affect the performance of the movement, the parts are assembled in a clean room; the environment here is similar to the computer chip manufacturer’s plant. 50,000 cubic meters of air circulate every hour, and the indoor pressure is higher than atmospheric pressure, so it is difficult for dust particles to enter.
Parts production workshop
Visitors visit the tabulation process
You can make the case yourself
As for the underground floor of Manufakturzentrum, it is the case manufacturing department. Cases including stainless steel, titanium, platinum, rose gold, white gold and bronze are produced here. Since the 1980s, IWC has accumulated a wealth of expertise in challenging novel case materials. The brand’s latest case material development is Ceratanium®, an unprecedented case material that is as strong and light as titanium, and as hard and scratch resistant as ceramic.