Standing in front of the new IWC boutique in Munich, you cannot help but turn your head in amazement a full 180 degrees at least several times. While the reflection in the large shop windows may hint at what is behind you, only a proper view from the front reveals the breathtaking magnitude and elegance of what lies opposite the historical building and across the square: the Bavarian State Opera House. The location of the new IWC boutique with its historic shop facade featuring an enlarged IWC Portugieser timepiece – 70 cm in diameter – could not have been chosen more wisely. Max-Josef-Platz is probably one of the most exclusive addresses in Munich and a magnet for both tourists and culture-loving locals.
After one and a half years of planning and construction involving 185 members of staff and extensive correspondence with the local authorities and especially the Bavarian Office for the Conservation of Historical Monuments, the second IWC boutique in Germany has celebrated its opening in the very building that used to house the well-known Eilles Kaffeehaus. Indeed, preserving the unique appearance of the venerable, six-floor coffee house was of utmost importance to everyone involved. “We wanted to maintain the brand’s identity and character while keeping and emphasising the beauty of this historical building – for example, by using 26 metric tons of steel to enhance the building structure and walls. The boutique was a great opportunity to combine both historical and modern elements,” says IWC Brand Architect Alex Maschmeyer who has been overseeing the project.
The boutique was a great opportunity to combine both historical and modern elements
The approach is reflected across 180 square metres of retail space, where every single detail has its place and meaning. A large video screen wall consisting of 15 seamless 55" LCD screens has been placed opposite a traditional Bavarian seating niche and an ornate tile stove featuring an iPod charging station and blue drawings of animals and flowers; in fact, the 17th-century tiles originate from Eilles Kaffeehaus. “We carefully assessed the condition of each tile and chose the most intact ones for the stove. The drawings are truly stunning,” says Maschmeyer, whose favourite motif is a little unicorn in the front middle row. On the second floor, a regularly rotating selection of vintage timepieces on loan from the IWC museum in Schaffhausen is exhibited in wall vitrines next to a bust of F. A. Jones, the founder of IWC Schaffhausen. A little further down, guests can relax in a small living room featuring a bar, where the IWC Boutique Team offers Augustiner beer fresh from the tap, German Riesling or even cognac to thirsty visitors. The entire area exudes a comfortable, homely atmosphere enhanced by beautiful vistas onto the Munich Opera House.
But the main focus of the boutique inevitably remains the six IWC watch families: Da Vinci, Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s Watches, Ingenieur and Aquatimer. One specific model has been attracting particular interest, as explained by Aline Thomas, IWC Munich Boutique Manager: “We take pride in offering several IWC models that are exclusively sold in our boutique. This includes our Munich Boutique Special Edition featuring a stunning engraving of the local Frauenkirche (Cathedral of Our Dear Lady) on the case back. Many visitors come in to discover and try the elegant timepiece first-hand.” The special-edition Portugieser Chronograph Rattrapante Edition “Boutique Munich” (Ref. IW371217) is limited to just 250 pieces and exhibited in a special vitrine on the ground floor. Rumour has it that a client from Frankfurt flew in only to view the watch in person and immediately ordered four timepieces: one for his wife, one for himself and two for his sons – it should be noted that one son is three years old and the other was born in May of this year.
Last but not least, what would a boutique be without an incredible team? Consisting of six IWC representatives (including a Spanish former opera singer) and a dedicated watchmaker, the crew speaks a total of ten languages and has cultural roots in Austria, China, France, Greece, Indonesia, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey. To leave their very personal mark, the team had their own hand prints embossed underneath the staircase before the final cementing procedure. And as one last memorandum from the past, the construction team has hidden a newspaper from 1871 into the foundation of the building - for the next generation to find.