Spartacus Rides: A Chat With Cycling Champion, Fabian Cancellara, On Giving Back

Spartacus Rides: A Chat With Cycling Champion, Fabian Cancellara, On Giving Back And The New Limited Edition IWC

IWC Schaffhausen and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation teamed up with Fabian “Spartacus” Cancellara for an unforgettable ride and a special edition Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII.

By Thomas Hendricks

Ahh, summer Fridays. For some, they mean sleeping late and drinking early. But one particular Friday in June called for sweating out the usual toxins. Watchonista and a few dozen others set an early alarm and joined world champion cyclist, Fabian Cancellara on a gorgeous 45-mile ride along the Hudson River.

The occasion? IWC Shauffhausen and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation teamed up once again to bring watch enthusiasts, young athletes, and celebrated champions together for a cause. Whereas some benefit events offer as much charisma as a chemistry lecture, this one had participants on bikes built like fighter jets, cruising across the George Washington Bridge with the New York City skyline fading into the summer haze. Oh, and there was an awesome watch involved too.

About Fabian “Spartacus” Cancellara

To learn more about the partnership and the world of cycling, we sat down for an interview with Olympic gold medalist and world time trials champion, Fabian Cancellara. Born in Bern, Switzerland, Cancellara fell in love with an old bike at age thirteen, and not long after, he won two consecutive World Junior Time Trial Championships in 1998 and 1999. Cancellara turned professional at age nineteen and earned the nickname “Spartacus” from his teammates for his tough work ethic and nerves of steel.

A special watch for a special cause

With each year of collaboration comes a new limited edition from IWC. For this 12th year, IWC is launching the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Laureus Sport For Good Foundation.” The watch is a thoughtful upgrade from the standard issue, with a new midnight blue dial, luminescent hands with a red accent on the seconds hand, and a 41mm black ceramic case. There’s a limited run of 1,500 numbered pieces and part of the proceeds go to support the foundation. 

Interview with Fabian Cancellara

Watchonista was lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with “Spartacus” to talk cycling, giving back, and of course, watches.

Thomas Hendricks: Nice to meet you, Fabian! Did you know we have the same birthday, March 18th?

Fabian Cancellara: Another one! I used to think I was the only one in the world, but I've met about 15 of us so far.

TH: Can you tell me what was your first nice watch?

FC: My first watch ever was probably a Flik Flak watch when I was a kid, given to me by my parents. Then in 1998, I won the junior world championship, and besides winning the gold medal and getting a nice jersey on the podium, you're given a Tissot watch. And that was my first time getting in touch with watches.

There were also a few years where I wore a Swiss brand, Formex, maybe you've heard of them. And then, of course, in cycling you have certain bike sponsors - Tissot, Festina, all that - but those are not my style. So the watches I wear now are from IWC. My wife even surprised me with a Portugeiser for our fifth anniversary - black dial, red gold. And I have a few other IWC’s at home.

TH: Do cyclists use watches in racing or training?

FC: They do. Cyclists mostly wear digital watches like TAG Heuer or Polar. Some wear Apple Watches, but sorry, I'm not going to wear an Apple watch.

TH: Can you tell me about the watch you have on your wrist now?

FC: Ooo this is a special one. Last year’s Laureus Foundation Aquatimer. 1,000 piece limited edition. What's special is that the drawing engraved on the back is made by one of the kids. And every Laureus limited edition from IWC has a special engraving on the back.

TH: How did you get involved with the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation?

FC: I became an ambassador for them almost eight years ago. And after my retirement, I was nominated to become a member of the Laureus World Sports Academy. The Academy has 63 members around the globe, all ex-athletes, and includes people like Michael Johnson, Boris Becker, Gordon Frasier, and Missy Franklin, who's now the youngest on board. I was the youngest once, but not anymore!

I'm also on the board of the Swiss foundation for Laureus. So I'm involved at a couple of different levels, on the organizational level and also doing special projects to help the kids.

TH: How do watches fit into your life now?

FC: Wherever I'm going, I'm looking at what guys are wearing on their wrists. Sometimes you can tell a lot about a person by looking at their wrist. This guy wears this special edition, that guy wears a fake watch. You can tell what kind of industry they’re in and what kind of style they’re going for. That's interesting to me. And if he’s wearing an IWC, I'll tell him "Hey, nice watch!"

I'm not just a friend of the brand who wears the watches and goes to events. It's more than that. Wherever I go around the globe, I'm visiting IWC boutiques and getting to know the dealers. So it's an interaction with the people who work behind the brand. It makes my relationship with the brand more authentic and personal.

(Images provided by ©IWC Schaffhausen)

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