In 1868, an American engineer and watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones who had been a director of E. Howard & Co., in Boston, then America's leading watchmaking company, founded the International Watch Company with the intention of combining the craftsmanship of the Swiss with the modern engineering technology from the U.S. to manufacture movements and watch parts for the American market."[5] At the time, wages in Switzerland were relatively low although there was a ready supply of skilled watchmaking labor"[6] mainly carried out by people in their homes. Jones encountered opposition to his plans in French-speaking Switzerland because people feared for their jobs"[7] and the work they did at home because Jones wanted to open a factory.

In 1850 the town of Schaffhausen was in danger of being left behind in the Industrial Age. It was at this stage that watch manufacturer and industrialist Johann Heinrich Moser stepped in and did the region a huge service. As a pioneer of white coal, he built Schaffhausen's first hydroelectric plant and laid the cornerstone for future industrialization."[8] He probably met F.A. Jones in Le Locle and showed great interest in his plans. Together, they laid the foundations for the first and only watch manufacturers in north-eastern Switzerland: The International Watch Company in Schaffhausen.

In 1869 F.A. Jones rented the first factory premises in an industrial building owned by J.H. Moser in Rheinstrasse. Very soon he had to rent further rooms in the Oberhaus, one of the oldest buildings in Schaffhausen. By 1874 plans were already being made for a new factory and a site was purchased from Moser's hydroelectric company which was directly adjacent to the banks of the Rhine and called the Baumgarten. Schaffhausen architect G. Meyer won the order to design and build the factory. A year later, in the spring of 1875, the construction work was completed. At first, 196 people worked in the 45 meter long factory, which could accommodate up to 300 workplaces..