SIHH 2018: The collector’s experience

 

 

A year of celebration

“Countdown to the IWC Collector’s Day at the SIHH!” is one of my favourite phrases in January each year. Not only is this an invitation to experience the innovative novelties that are the product of intense teamwork at IWC over several years, but this year, it was also an invitation to a very special birthday party: the 150th anniversary of IWC Schaffhausen. Coincidentally, I also celebrated the 30th anniversary of my own passion for IWC, having inherited an IWC Mark XI in 1988. Remarkably, this year, the team at IWC created 27 new products to be launched in the trend-setting Jubilee collection. Twenty-seven is coincidentally the same young age as the Boston-based watchmaker and entrepreneur Florentine Ariosto Jones when he founded IWC in 1868 – and it is my lucky number as well.

Tribute to an iconic timepiece

As an anniversary surprise, CEO Chris Grainger-Herr treated us to a birthday bonus with the revival of an icon: the IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition “150 Years” (IW505101) pocket watch. The watch is powered by a brand new IWC-manufactured movement (calibre 94200), with a 60-hour power reserve – an impressive achievement, since significant energy is needed to drive the jumping digits. This timeless Probus Scafusia piece is a perfectly engineered 21st century digital time machine that is available exclusively with a red gold case and beautifully created multi-micro-layered lacquered dial, and is limited to only 50 pieces. I was mesmerised by its classical beauty and the perfection of viewing time through modernised digital mechanics.

 

Previous years have seen a focus on launching updates to one watch family, but this year was special indeed, with four families (Portugieser, Portofino, Pilot’s and Da Vinci) celebrated within a single design theme. All limited-edition tributes share a common aesthetic denominator with the imprinted (white or blue) dials created through an iterative layering process of lacquering – resulting in a classical finish reminiscent of the heritage of enamel, originating from around the Pallweber era.

Having had the privilege of spending quality time with all 27 + 1 pieces in the Jubilee collection, if I could own only one of them, it would be the Portugieser Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “150 Years”, which for the very first time combines a constant-force tourbillon with a perpetual single moon phase display. I remain indecisive on whether to choose the blue dial or the white dial – but since I have two wrists, why not one of each?

A step into the Industrial Era

This year, the IWC booth exceeded expectations once again. The Boston-themed industrial-style architecture was like a step back in time to the historical days of IWC, while the Time Machine feature, taking centre stage, was a striking display of mechanical excellence and a truly fitting tribute to engineering. Remarkably, many of the VIP guests and global celebrities visiting the booth looked at home and relaxed, ready for a casual chat with other guests – generating a unique and welcoming atmosphere for everyone. It is so wonderfully refreshing to meet Hollywood actors, accomplished sporting stars and musicians and to be welcomed with the question, “Which IWC watch will you be wearing at the IWC gala evening?”. Another personal highlight, illustrating the unique rapport between IWC collectors, was meeting John Helliwell, Supertramp saxophonist and IWC collector since 2002, who has become a close friend to many collectors and who joined us at the closing dinner.

The Boston-themed industrial-style architecture was like a step back in time to the historical days of IWC

 A collectors reunion

Parties are where friends reunite, and it is such a delight each year to regroup with old friends and to meet new IWC collectors from all around the globe, spending quality time intensely discussing the design and mechanical features of the novelties as well as reminiscing about our continually growing collections. During the IWC Collector’s Day – splendidly organised by Ms Clizia Capecchi –, we were treated to a meticulous presentation by Stephan Ihnen (Associate Director Technics) on the conception, associated research, design and mechanical challenges, followed by the production and assembly of a special customised IWC fidget spinner, which presented the team with a unique range of microengineering challenges. Created with an amazing 77 components, 6 different materials, and an abundance of individual creativity and concomitant teamwork, the product is a representation of how all products at IWC evolve. A limited edition of 100 pieces has been produced and in an incredible gesture of generosity, the collectors in attendance were all gifted one to take home to appreciate and enjoy.

Last stop: Les Aviateurs

All good times come to an end, and after two days of positive and impassioned interactions, we were invited to visit the recently opened IWC bar “Les Aviateurs”, situated adjacent to the IWC Geneva boutique on the Rue du Rhône. This bar represents a novel method for a unique brand experience with IWC. The relaxed and informal venue was the perfect environment to share with many of the IWC senior executives our experiences and our impressions of all things IWC, including our customer experiences. Tonny Berteloot (IWC Collectors’ Forum moderator) delivered a touching vote of thanks to IWC on behalf of all the assembled collectors, using a creative and elegant blend of numbers and facts to summarise our experiences of the two days. It is obvious that IWC have differentiated themselves clearly – and continue to do so – by creating this special setting for collectors in a customer-centric culture where we can exchange dialogue in an open and constructive fashion, with the result that what happens in Geneva doesn’t stay in Geneva, but is transferred back to Schaffhausen for continuous development. Thank you IWC – it was an amazing time.


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