From my initial encounter with IWC some 20-years ago, through the last 13-years of collecting the watches, I have long had a fascination for all things "Schaffhausen", and through the powers of my imagination, I have visited this medieval city many times. Through the powers of my travel agent however, this was my maiden voyage. Jung would view this as an encounter with my collective unconscious, but there was witness to my sobriety when I entered the reception area of IWC, declaring "I'm home!".
Schaff·hau·sen (shahf-hou-zuhn), n. a mythical place in horological lore where skilled gnomes fashioned timepieces out of dreams.
Oh my god, what have they done?
As I recall, the original building was completed around 1875 and at least through 2006 it still photographed well. So you can imagine my horror when I actually arrived and found the front door standing wide open and a porta-toilet perched in a parking space. To have traveled so far to my own personal Mecca only to find this; for god's sake what had they done?! The nice ladies in reception assured me that renovations were underway and that all would be fine and that I could keep my money, as they were not actually accepting charitable donations.
Once I regained my composure, I just had to touch the very cornerstone of this hallowed old structure and was forced to reach over a barrier installed to prevent the watchmakers from entering through a side opening near yet a second porta-toilet. When I laid my hand upon that cold barren stone, I felt the very power of time itself shoot through my heart. Larry Seiden said I was standing on a live electrical wire, but I know what I know. It was if Jones and Moser had flipped the switch on an endeavor of destiny. Finally, here I was, where they had been, for reasons just as serendipitous.
Great to see you again, for the first time ...
I Cried When I Met a Man Who Had No Shoes ...
Still, standing in front of the hallowed edifice that housed my horological heart, it was all I could do to choke back the tears. I thought about covering the front door with a roll of bubble wrap left outside in order to preserve what was left of her dignity, but our hostess was waiting to give us what I just knew would be the very last tour before the city nailed up a condemnation notice. Heavy was the heart that sustained me that morning.
The Ruins of Schaffhausen
Once inside, our hostess led us to the conference room where all facility tours begin and showed us a movie of IWC and the various models of the day. She was kind enough to find me a copy of the disc before we proceeded on, but back home, I discovered it was in Chinese. Still, it was nice to have as a souvenir. We were also presented with a nice display of watches and allowed to play with them. It was here that I found appreciation for the gorgeous blue dial of the Lareus Portuguese Chronograph - a model that photography can do no justice.
Before the tour began, we were given watchmaker smocks to don as we made our way through the workshops. By now I was feeling more hopeful and the smock gave me the confidence to believe that all would be ok. I was still too young and too poor to own all of the watches I desired and I needed time - I needed IWC to survive so I could still get extracts from the archives. A selfish motive, I know, but a motive all the same.
After an eerily familiar tour of the ateliers, the processing rooms and what used to be the old museum area, we were presented with goodie bags by our gracious tour guide. When I pointed out that there was no watch in my bag, she promised to check into the matter and get back with me. Soon thereafter, we all found ourselves back outside on the pavement. Despite the fact I was no longer physically in the building, it was clear to me I would never really be able to leave this place of Déjà Visité.
On the Jones Steps
from the rear: David Polakoff, the Chinese guy for who the DVD was intended, Larry Seiden, Nelson Herring, Adrian van de Meijden , George J., me in the middle, and Marcus T.
Not pictured: Kurt Klaus, Rodrigues and Teixeira.
Larry Seiden and David Polakoff dig deep in search of the Holy Tchotchke
You can check out anytime you like ...
The Geneva Connection ...
In Geneva, where we prepared to attend SIHH, Larry Seiden, David Polakoff, Nelson Herring and myself were sitting at an outdoor cafe having beers when lo and behold, we spotted Kurt Klaus walking down the street. We called out a riotous "Herr Klaus" and he graciously stopped and joined us. It was then that my trip to Switzerland became momentous - that and when I checked into the stunning Trente Trois Hotel, and I do mean stunning. If ever given a choice of hotels in Geneva and this happens to be one of them, select the other. You'll thank me later.
It was this chance encounter with our horological rock star, Kurt Klaus, that gave me the first opportunity to see the new 2007 DaVinci in-person, and Mr. Klaus was wearing his namesake perpetual which he gladly passed around for all to fondle. What a beautiful watch and fitting tribute to our hero of watchmaking.
A great afternoon with The Master- Kurt Klaus -and Nelson Herring.
The first DaVinci Perpetual Kurt Klaus!
Herr Klaus examines David Polakoff's IWC 5-minute repeater and recounted the story where he had once had to repair them all.
Larry Seiden implores me to explain my concept of the Russell Escapement to Herr Klaus, which I quietly declined.
Carl Jung was probably right. Maybe it really was plausible that my collective unconscious had prepared for me a familiarity with Schaffhausen.
Perhaps the subtle cultural cues which accompany the watches we collect enter our subconscious along with the fascination for the watches themselves.
As for Carl, one wonders if heavy drinking precipitated his hypothesis, for it is well known that such behavior can make the familiar seem strange, while the strange seems familiar. I would first need to know if he drank at all and then I would need to see a photo of his wife.
In 1952 Carl Jung, son-in-law of J. Rauschenbach-Schenk, described a form of déjà vu he called déjà visité, or the sense of having visited a place never before seen. During the 2007 watch shows, I was able to travel to Schaffhausen and experience this sensation first hand.