The Precision of a High-end Swiss Watch

IWC Schaffhausen relies on quality inspection with Carl Zeiss

Tiny gears seamlessly interlock, effortlessly driving the inner workings of the clock. The tiniest of details and strict rules are responsible for the precise measurement of time. The demands of watch manufacturer IWC are particularly high. Measuring technology from Carl Zeiss ensures the reliable and efficient quality assurance of the coveted high-end Swiss watches from Schaffhausen.

The challenge: maximum accuracy

IWC is driven by a desire to create innovative watches that unite technology and engineering with an exclusive design. From time to time, the watchmakers work on a single masterpiece for several weeks.

However, for a watch to show the exact time all the time, every one of the tiny parts must be perfectly matched to each other. Excellent quality management is therefore an absolute must. Many of the measurements have tolerances of just 2 micrometers (a single hair is 50 times as thick!).

Until four years ago, IWC relied on manual measurements in quality management. Four years ago, IWC introduced a new process to enable it to make differentiated statements about the quality with minimal work – with Carl Zeiss Industrial Metrology at its side: "IWC Schaffhausen is a growing international company that combines precision, technology, perfection and uniqueness into its products. Over the course of our expansion, we therefore decided to rely on a partner in quality assurance that also lives these values," states Thomas Bregel, Associate Director of Quality at IWC, explaining the partnership with Carl Zeiss.

The solution: coordinate measuring machines and central data management

Multiple coordinate measuring machines, one software to program measuring jobs and a centralized data management system are now the backbone of the quality inspection system at IWC.

Four O-INSPECT multisensor measuring machines in the measuring labs are used to inspect the position and form features of the watch parts. At the push of a button, a stylus extends and scans the part. An integrated camera checks the curves and contours. IWC also owns two DuraMax coordinate measuring machines. Because of their small footprint and insensitivity to temperature fluctuations, these systems can be used directly on the shopfloor.

The benefit: precise measuring results

A coordinate measuring machine completes complex 3D measurements in just a few minutes. Networking the machines via the web-based PiWeb quality documentation system enables IWC employees to flexibly measure every part on every machine. PiWeb merges all results in a central data pool.

"With the new coordinate measuring machines, we are achieving maximum measuring accuracy," adds Bregel. "The new measuring concept has enabled IWC to increase its efficiency in quality assurance."