IWC Plots a New Course for 2018 and Beyond
We take a look at IWC Schaffhausen as the eponymous brand celebrates 150 years. All while surrounded by the glitz and glamour of SIHH.
At this year’s SIHH fair, the big theme inside IWC’s booth was heritage. After all, 2018 marks the 150th year of the Schaffhausen based brand. IWC used this opportunity to reconfirm their commitment to their past while keeping an eye towards the future. Upon entering the booth, attendees were whisked away to what looked like an industrial era speakeasy complete with hidden doors. The centerpiece was a giant replica of a Pallweber movement mounted above huge steel grates that emitted fog while overhead speakers blasted a matching thematic soundtrack.
Gone was the P-51 Mustang plane, glamourous Da Vinci booth models were nowhere to be seen, and not even a single IWC Pilot’s watch was on display. Also missing, the brand’s former CEO George Kern, who departed last year. New CEO, Christoph Grainger-Herr was front row center to welcome guests and press. Was this the new IWC that everyone had been talking about? I had to find out for myself.
New Management, Same Heritage
I first met Mr. Grangier-Herr last year, when the brand had a small private showing of their 150th Anniversary pieces. I remember he was in an ebullient mood that day and when we met he welcomed me with a warm handshake proceeded by a greeting I won’t soon forget, he said; “Hey! I follow you guys on Instagram, have been tagging you in my pictures, pleasure to meet you in person”. Those words have stuck with me as they’re so atypical for a Swiss CEO.
But IWC was never uniquely Swiss, after all, they were founded by an American. As such, they’ve always embraced a dynamic, yet pragmatic, culture of innovation and boundary pushing. On top of this, the brand has always found a way to put their finger on the pulse of trends. IWC has brought us classics such as the Ingenieur, Portofino, Da Vinci, and of course, their signature Pilot’s watches.
As you may have read, in celebration of the brand’s 150th anniversary, they released the Jubilee collection. A complete series of limited editions. For me, the standout model in this lineup is the Tribute to Pallweber. IWC has introduced a total of 27 references across five collections. You can read all about the collection and see our exclusive hands-on photos here.
Enter Mr. Cooper
The big reveal of IWC’s grand gala was the announcement of Bradley Cooper joining as brand ambassador. It’s a suitable pairing as the actor and four-time Oscar nominee has worn an IWC Big Pilot on magazine covers and during appearances for years. Cooper himself really needs no introduction, as you’ve likely seen him in acclaimed films such as; “American Sniper” “Silver Linings Playbook” and many more.
“We are happy to welcome Bradley Cooper to our exclusive circle of brand ambassadors. With his pursuit of quality and creativity, he is a perfect match for IWC, a brand which in the course of its 150-year history has continued to renew itself and delights people the world over with its passion for handcrafted watchmaking,”
Christoph Grainger- Herr (CEO, IWC)
The Gala to End All Galas
Every year, SIHH attendees look forward to the IWC gala. It’s always the most talked about event of the week. This year was no different, and the brand produced a glamorous evening in an even more elegant setting. Just steps away from the red carpet, IWC setup an extravagant brick lined warehouse dance hall that – like their booth – looked like something straight out of the 1920s.
One after one – celebrities, luminaries, retailers, and a few journalists (myself included) mingled prior to enjoying a night of entertainment and celebration in honor of IWC’s 150th Anniversary. With just over 800 guests in attendance, IWC had something for everyone.
As for entertainment, it was certainly a night to remember – we enjoyed performances by Aloe Blacc and other acclaimed artists. Assembled guests couldn’t help but notice a table of brand ambassadors in the front row that would give the Oscars a run for their money. A star studded table including; Cate Blanchett, Adriana Lima, James Marsden, Dev Patel, and many more were given a rousing welcome and by the end of the night, a few even made their way to the dance floor.
In my opinion, Christoph Grainger- Herr acutely understands the watch industry and has his finger on the proverbial pulse on the business. While Christoph has been with the brand for over 10 years, you wouldn’t know it at first glance, as he seemingly has more energy and enthusiasm than someone just starting out in the industry.
With a renewed focus on heritage and a keen eye towards the future, IWC is well positioned to succeed in today’s turbulent watch industry. We’re very much looking forward to seeing what’s next.
All images credit: Getty Images