It’s 9 o’clock on a Saturday morning, it’s raining cats and dogs in Amsterdam and I’m worried. Very worried, as weeks of meticulous planning, a fun-filled agenda of IWC Forum friends and Swiss watches from Schaffhausen is about to go wrong – but then, almost miraculously, the watch gods smile on us, the heavens clear and our group of 31 people gather under blue skies at the restaurant in Amsterdam’s Vondelpark for a fantastic day of IWC Forum fun.
Bill Barker, our senior Forum member from the USA, is passing through town with his wife Mary (who is wearing a gorgeous IWC Yacht Club Chronograph on her wrist), and for us it’s too good an opportunity to miss by not getting together personally to renew acquaintances and, above all, share our passion for those luxury timepieces we so enjoy collecting. Yet again, IWC has brought us together from as far away as Greece, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, the UK, Austria and, of course, the Netherlands. The 2017 IWC BBAMSGTG (Bill Barker Amsterdam Get ToGether) is about to get under way.
Now, here is the thing about this bunch of collectors or should I rather say friends (many of whom I have known for years): they are a fun, discerning bunch of people with fine tastes. Of course, Haute Horlogerie and an almost insatiable desire to get to see some new, as well as old, IWC timepieces motivates them to travel from afar – but it’s more, much more than that. These are people from all walks of life, of different ages and incomes – yet they all love to travel and use the opportunity to gain enjoyable experiences and share the camaraderie that the Forum has facilitated for this community over the last 15 years.
Moreover, while there seems to be a perception that IWC makes watches for men, some of the fellows’ wives have once again asked to join us, as they too love the watches and the great social event this has become. In fact, this is the sixth annual IWC Amsterdam event we have arranged – and the number of requests to participate in the event have grown year after year. For the worldwide IWC Collectors’ circles, two terms – namely, “IWC Amsterdam boutique” and “IWC BBAMSGTG” – have together become synonymous with quality watches and an event where things run with Swiss precision!
After a light brunch in Vondelpark’s restaurant – where many watches pass through the hands of collectors as they are bought and sold – it is only a short walk to the IWC boutique on the P.C. Hoofdstraat. There, as always, we are warmly welcomed by the professional and friendly staff. Here, the ladies are also given special treatment as us men are ushered off to the upstairs lounge for drinks whilst the wives and girlfriends get an exclusive “women only” hands-on viewing of the new 2017 IWC Da Vinci collection for ladies. By the time the men come back down, it is both clear that the new collection is a hit and that some have already made their choices!
Of course, the IWC marketing team who supported our GTG event have also ensured that us men do not feel left out or outdone. We were all pleasantly surprised in the boutique when IWC Associate Director of Product Management Walter Volpers held a short presentation and unveiled the soon-to-be-released limited-edition “CF4”, the Aquatimer Automatic Edition “Collectors’ Forum Watch” (Ref. IW341001)
With the entire group upbeat and excited about the watches, we leave the boutique to step aboard two private boats for a traditional Amsterdam canal cruise. IWC Schaffhausen has arranged caps for us to wear, and it is indeed a grand sight to see all the collectors aboard, wearing their favourite luxury Swiss timepieces on their wrists and having a matching logo on their heads.
We tour the canals of Amsterdam for an hour and a half, passing many of Amsterdam’s historic 17th-century grachten houses and other must-see sights, including passing by the beautiful replica of the 1749 VOC sailing ship “The Amsterdam”. Watch talk is lively aboard both boats, as champagne and beer are poured and snacks served. A particular highlight amongst the foreign guests is the tasting of Hollandse maatjes (fresh herrings) served with raw onions and Dutch genever.
Returning to the mooring with all in good spirits (some now literally), the collectors have little time to return to their hotels and freshen up for the main event – a formal seven-course Michelin-starred authentic kaiseki meal served at one of Amsterdam’s top locations.
As mentioned, these IWC Collectors are a discerning and fun-loving group of people – so it is no wonder that by the time I get to the venue, I find them in Sky Bar on the 20th floor, enjoying pre-dinner cocktails and a great view of Amsterdam.
The regular dinner venue, with our own private dining room, is the perfect place for us to round off the day with flair; most of the gents have used the occasion to swap the watches on their wrists with many unique watches that have now begun to appear. I am wearing an IWC Portugieser Perpetual Calendar with the handsome blue-steeled hands.
In line with the standard tradition after the main courses have been enjoyed and before the dessert arrives, it is time for some spectacular show-and-tell: given that many of the guests have brought some of their best luxury timepieces with them, the watch collections appear and are shown to everyone. We are of course all keen to get some wrist shots and photos. Time passes quickly, with our forum moderator holding his traditional quiz where some great prizes are won.
Overall, we enjoyed a great IWC event that will no doubt be repeated in the future. Once again, we collectors would like to thank IWC for the brand’s great support of the IWC Forum and its devoted collectors.