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IWC Schaffhausen

The Journal

Laura Kraihamer takes on Arosa

Laura Kraihamer takes on Arosa
Read Time: 2 min
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Błażej Żuławski

Błażej Żuławski

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product.buyoptions.taxes.shipping.link product.buyoptions.taxes.shipping.link Price includes taxes. Recommended Retail Price. Price excludes taxes. Recommended Retail Price. Recommended Retail Price Available to buy online. Orders can be returned within 30 days free of charge. Pay with credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express), bank wire transfer, Unionpay or Paypal.

 

 

MEET THE AUSTRIAN RACING DRIVER AND IWC AMBASSADOR AS SHE DEBUTS AT AROSA CLASSCCAR, BEHIND THE WHEEL OF THE ICONIC 1955 MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SL GULLWING

Arosa is famous not only for being a ski resort, but also for it’s difficult 76 corners, 7.2 kilometres hillclimb race. ­

We caught up with racing driver and IWC Ambassador Laura Kraihamer during a racing weekend to remember. 

 

 

READY FOR A HILLCLIMB IN THE 300 SL GULLWING

    

Coming from a family of racing drivers and pilots, Laura Kraihamer was always destined to be fast. What is less obvious is that the Austrian racing driver - who nowadays works as a factory development driver for KTM, helping to perfect the X-BOW GTX she races regularly - is also very fast to learn. On her Arosa ClassicCar debut, during which she tackled the famous hillclimb in an IWC Racing 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL “Gullwing”, her times were not only improving quickly, but were not far behind the top drivers of the day, who take this competition so seriously they run and analyse full telemetry data and practice the run on a simulator beforehand. 

The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388102

— The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388102

 

Laura Kraihamer in her racing gear

— Laura Kraihamer in her racing gear

 

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” from 1955

— The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” from 1955

Laura Kraihamer was driving the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” from 1955

— Laura Kraihamer was driving the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” from 1955

“I LOVE THIS CAR”

    

Laura is clearly a talented driver, who makes wrestling with a car as difficult to drive as a 300SL look like child’s play, or rather - ballet. What the stopwatch won’t tell you is that she also is the nicest, most approachable person on any starting grid, with great charisma and a sunny disposition. This is something that hits you as soon as you meet her - she is spontaneous, and not shy of dropping an odd “F-bomb” here and there when she gets out of the HK Engineering prepared car after each run, to emphasise how much she loves the way it performs on this course.

 

As we drive down to the start line, a moment in which Laura is allowed to take the passenger seat, we are followed by the magnificent 1956 300 SLS Porter Special, and she can hardly contain her excitement. This “Gullwing” write off was bought for $500 by racing driver Jack Porter, who rebuilt it, gave it a new open top body and a supercharger.

 

This is only a technical run, but she lets the cars in front pull away into the distance and then, in the one section that leads uphill (downhill in the actual race) she presses the throttle to demonstrate what the car can do. The acceleration feels brutal but progressive, the cornering is flat and the entire tubular frame chassis is extremely stiff. The car instinctively reacts to her every move and after a brief moment of naughtiness, she slows down and we both giggle like schoolgirls. “I love this car!” she shouts over the overwhelming exhaust noise. 

    

A stopwatch acts as a constant reminder that there is always room to improve one’s performance, whether it is for a run up a Swiss mountain, or any other task imaginable.

    

 

 

 

 

DESIGN AND PRACTICALITY

    

In between her runs we chat about blind corners, which seem quicker or slower depending on how well she has remembered the route, as well as braking performance and sunlight, which greatly factor into how difficult the last runs of the day are, as it can be harder to see some sections through the blinding light.

 

We also chat about watches, and in particular, Laura’s IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 ref. IW388102 with a fantastic blue dial. This is a watch she is wearing only here in Arosa, though she also has an identical “British Racing Green” dial one at home. I ask what she likes about it and she replies that while she appreciates the design it’s the practicality of this particular timepiece that speaks to her most.

 

“With the big hands and indexes, it’s super easy to read at a glance,” she says, “and also, I love the day-date function, and as a racing driver, the fact it has a stopwatch, of course”. 

    

Classic and timeless: The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388102
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PILOT’S WATCH CHRONOGRAPH 41

IW388102

Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41

107 000 kr

Stainless steel case, Automatic, self-winding. Blue dial with luminescence, Stainless steel bracelet with EasX-CHANGE system, Strap width 20.0 mm.

Made in Switzerland

— Classic and timeless: The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 IW388102

 

 

Laura Kraihamer’s canine cheerleaders joined the race.

— Laura Kraihamer’s canine cheerleaders joined the race

Precision Timing

    

In racing, Laura and all of the Arosa participants (over 150 people competing) are measured by specialised equipment. But a stopwatch acts as a constant reminder that there is always room to improve one’s performance, whether it is for a run up a Swiss mountain, or any other task imaginable. If you can do it well, precisely and quickly - you have life figured out. Unless it’s relaxing or eating a meal. That’s the one occasion when it's better to leave the watch on the bedside table…

 

 

 

Listen in on Laura Kraihamer’s chat with IWC’s CEO Chris Grainger in IWC’s Podcast “Partners in Time”.

 

All images by Filip Blank and Błażej Żuławski

 

 

 

IWC Schaffhausen