As many watch aficionados know, IWC is in the unique position of being the only Swiss watchmaking firm to have been founded by an American, Florentine Ariosto Jones, who left the United States after the end of the Civil War. Jones went to Switzerland hoping to introduce American production line manufacturing techniques and to take advantage of both Switzerland’s home-grown watchmaking knowledge and lower labor costs, in order to produce high quality watches that could be sold into the U.S. market. From the beginning, Jones insisted on making very high-grade, accurate timepieces, and some of the earliest, and best quality, “Jones caliber” pocket watch movements were marked “D. H. Craig,” – it’s thought, in honor of Daniel Hastings Craig, who IWC historian Dr. David Seyffer believes may have been Jones’s principle start-up investor. The Portugieser Hand Wound Tourbillon Edition “D.H. Craig USA,” is a limited edition tourbillon intended to commemorate both Jones and Craig, who helped make cheap relica wacthes IWC a reality, and it’s a variation on the existing Portuguiser Tourbillon Hand-Wound.
The details of Jones’s life are known in general outline, but only in general outline. He was born on February 15th, 1841, in Rumney, New Hampshire, to a shoemaker named Solomon Jones and his wife Lavinia, née Craig (whose brother Daniel was the D. H. Craig commemorated in Jones’s early IWC movements). It’s known that his parents were fond of exotic names with literary pretensions (his older brother was named Greenleaf Jones, presumably after the poet John Greenleaf Whittier). At 15, Jones became an apprentice at the Boston Watch Company, but when Edward Howard left the company to found the E. Howard Watch & Clock Company, Jones went with him. Jones’s career was interrupted by the Civil War (he enlisted on July 24, 1861), but after the war he conceived a business plan: he would take American production line manufacturing techniques to Switzerland.
Jones arrived in Switzerland in 1868 with his partner Charles Louis Kidder; the two first attempted to set up business in the Swiss Jura, but eventually decided to establish the International Watch Company in Schaffhausen. Schaffhausen is on the banks of the Rhine River, in western Switzerland. The Rhine was an essential avenue for the transport of goods by water, but this route was interrupted by the Rhine Falls, where the river drops about 75 meters. Bringing goods around the Rhine Falls by oxcart was a booming business, and though the establishment of a rail system in western Switzerland made it obsolete, there was a water power plant in the town of Schaffhausen that had been constructed in 1866. The business model for fake IWC watches UK, as Jones conceived it, involved making high-grade, accurate, highly-reliable watches, and the first movements were of very high quality.
The movement shown above is an example of a very early Jones “D. H. Craig” movement. The first Jones calibers had in common the use of German Silver (maillechort) for the plate and three-quarter bridge, as well as the distinctive, patented, very long regulator index, and a bimetallic balance for temperature compensation. They were made in various grades, and it’s thought that H and E represented the highest quality calibers. The words “Elson’s Patent” refer to a patent by Julius Elson, no. 82,097, that was assigned to F. A. Jones in 1868; the patent is for “Improvement In Safety Attachment To Watches,” and is for a method of protecting the gears of the going train from damage in the event of mainspring breakage.
Now to the watch at hand. The D.H. Craig Tourbillon is a member of the Portuguiser family, which historically is strongly identified with IWC’s pocket watch production, and the movement reflects the architecture as well as engineering philosophy of IWC’s earliest watches.
The basic characteristics of the Portuguieser design have generally been clarity and simplicity, and aside from the F. A. Jones signature on the dial and the aperture for the flying tourbillon, there’s little in the way of adornment for its own sake (some purists will wish that the tourbillon aperture had been omitted, of course). The movement is the main attraction here, and while the UK exact replica IWC caliber 98900 does not have the long regulator index that is the single most distinctive feature of IWC Jones calibers, it does have the three-quarter plate construction that was the most basic feature of the Jones calibers’ architecture – as well as duplicating the click spring arrangement of the original Jones caliber. And, like the original Jones caliber, German silver is used for the three-quarter plate.
IWC has also announced that as part of the launch, it will support the organization Save America’s Clocks (SAC) by underwriting the restoration of a street clock in New York City. SAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to the identification, preservation, and restoration of American public and street clocks, and with IWC it will be working to restore an E. Howard Watch & Clock Co. street clock in New York City. Purchasers of the D.H. Craig limited edition will also receive a Santoni leather passport holder (perfect for a trip to Switzerland with your uncle’s startup money burning a hole in your pocket) as well as the book, F. A. Jones: His Life, Legacy, And Watches, which is a biography of IWC’s founder that also discusses the general history of IWC and the development of the original Jones caliber pocket watch movements. The book offers an excellent, in-depth look at the distinguishing characteristics of these extremely rare movements.
Exhibitions dedicated to exploring the F.A. Jones’s legacy, and IWC’s particular relationship to the United States, will be mounted at the New York and Los Angeles IWC boutiques; the exhibitions will also include some very rare early Jones caliber IWC pocket watches.
The IWC Portugieser Hand-Wound Tourbillon Edition “D.H. Craig USA” is a limited edition of 27 pieces, available only in the United States at IWC boutiques. It has a retail price of $57,000. For more, visit IWC online.
Movement, UK best replica IWC hand-wound caliber 98900 flying tourbillon, running at 28,800 vph; 54-hour power reserve. Case, 18k red gold; silver plated dial, black alligator leather Santoni strap. Three bar water resistance, 43mm x 11mm.