Inside The Final Stop Of IWC’s Big Pilot Exhibition In New York City

Inside The Final Stop Of IWC’s Big Pilot Exhibition In New York City

The City That Never Sleeps was the eighth (and last) stop of IWC’s Big Pilot Exhibition, and Watchonista was there.

By Josh Shanks

Over the last few years, New York City’s Hudson Yards has quickly transformed into a haven for luxury watch enthusiasts. From acclaimed mono-brand boutiques from Richemont’s brand portfolio (Cartier, Piaget, and Panerai) to our friend’s Watches of Switzerland, Hudson Yards has at least 25 watch brands represented within a single city block.

Yet, despite the day-to-day business of the watch industry in this location, nothing could have prepared New York City for the literal block party thrown last week by IWC for the last stop of the brand’s Big Pilot Exhibition. My colleague Victoria Gomelsky was at the first US stop in California, so it was only fitting that I grabbed my dog and headed to Hudson Yards myself.

Not Your Average Pop-Up

For decades, the pop-up concept has enticed watch brands. These types of activations allow a brand the flexibility of bringing its creations and brand story to any corner of the globe where they think they’ll find an audience.

However, if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that brands can’t rest on their laurels when it comes to client acquisition. Gone are the days of the boutique cocktail. Collectors in 2021 can buy their own drinks, thank you very much. And to the extent that the pandemic has reshaped our concept of time and how we spend it, then a brand better have something unique and qualitative to offer if it’s going to lure folks away from the confines of their comfy homes and apartments.

And while many brands have embraced the pop-up concept over the last 18 months, few have done it as uniquely nor more ambitiously than IWC. The Schaffhausen-based brand’s Big Pilot Exhibition went global, from Asia to Europe, with the US just so happening to be one of the most critical stops in-between.

The Experience

What do you get when you assemble five cargo containers in one place, filling them with dozens of IWC Pilot’s watches, experience zones for both watchmaking and straps, and digital appearances from F1 Champion Lewis Hamilton, famed IWC watchmaker Kurt Klaus, and IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr? The IWC Big Pilot Exhibition, of course.

After traversing the country, IWC chose New York City’s Hudson Yards for the final stop of the Big Pilot Exhibition. The location they landed on was in the shadow of Hudson Yard’s Vessel structure, an already emblematic place which, unless you’re living under a rock, you’ve undoubtedly seen on social media.

The multi-day exhibition featured a client/VIP cocktail reception, press visits, and more than enough IWC Pilot’s Watches on display to pique anyone’s curiosity, no matter their experience level. From the curious bystander to the serious collector, there was something for everyone.

Based on the attendance I witnessed, the pup-up seemed to be an undeniable hit. So, kudos to the IWC team for pulling off such an engaging event! And as rumor has it, we might be seeing more of the Big Pilot Exhibition in 2022!

Photo Gallery: IWC Big Pilot Exhibition – New York City

Enjoy this photo gallery of the IWC Big Pilot Exhibition in New York City's Hudson Yards.

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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