Photos — Wong Wai Date — 2010-07-01T00:00:00
In 1517, a Portuguese explorer by the name of Fernão Pires de Andrade landed at the mouth of the Pearl River on the coast of southern China and started trading with an empire that until then had been sequestered from the rest of the world. It seems only fitting, then, that IWC has opened its first Flagship Boutique at precisely this spot, now the site of modern Hong Kong. After all, the Schaffhausen-based company’s legendary Portuguese collection is dedicated to visionary men-of-action, explorers and mariners like Pires de Andrade.
The building in Kowloon housing the IWC Flagship Boutique oozes history from every stone. At one time it served the British Crown Colony as Marine Police Headquarters. But since the beginning of June, the 200 square metres on the ground floor of the neoclassical building have offered IWC enthusiasts an exciting new brand experience. For each of the five IWC product families, the designers have created dedicated sections that give visitors a new insight in- to the worlds of the Portuguese, Da Vinci, Aquatimer, Ingenieur and Pilot’s Watches. “People are so fascinated by it all”, says manager Rebecca Tam, “that they tend to spend a relatively long time in the store, sometimes as much as half an hour.”
This is because the exclusively styled premises are not only a store selling the desirable timepieces manufactured in Schaffhausen but also feature interactive worlds of experience that convey the values embodied by IWC: exclusiveness, innovation, freedom and adventure. “The opening of our Flagship Boutique in Hong Kong is the jewel in the crown of the 25 IWC boutiques that turns IWC’s philosophy into a tangible experience,” explains IWC CEO Georges Kern. “We are very proud of this milestone in our history and look forward to welcoming visitors to this fascinating and exclusive environment.”
The premises are much more than a store for IWC watches
The most striking new feature of the Flagship Boutique in Hong Kong is the IWC Collection, a range of select products that add a new dimension to the IWC experience. Manufactured in extremely limited editions, the handpicked items and accessories make IWC’s various watch families even more tangible. Around the Portuguese line, for example, we find limited editions of the superb, handcrafted navigational instruments made by a well-known German manufacturer. The Ingenieur family is accompanied by a high-tech bicycle made of carbon fibre and weighing in at less than six kilograms – the lightest everyday road bike currently available. Buyers of this technically outstanding piece of sports equipment can have their name engraved on the handlebars. IWC Pilot’s Watch fans can order a made-to-measure buffalo leather bomber jacket, which is manufactured by hand in a Swiss workshop.
The brand experience takes on an interactive dimension in the Aviators’ Lounge, a sales area modelled on the traditional officers’ mess at old British aerodromes. Here, Pilot’s Watch lovers can enjoy the white-knuckle experience of piloting a Spitfire in a flight simulator.
The interactive worlds created around the individual watch families are particularly attractive to visitors from mainland China and Hong Kong. The Chinese from the mother country love demonstrating their financial success with beautiful things like watches. “So they feel very much at home here,” explains Rebecca Tam. “For the Hong Kong Chinese, it’s the fun of an entirely new shopping experience.” Some of them, apparently, even regret the fact that the Boutique Fragrance developed especially for the retail areas is not for sale.
The brand experience takes on an interactive dimension