ICONS AND IN­NO­VA­TION

Executive Magazine - - Executive Life -

Klaus has count­less sto­ries of how he de­vel­oped in­no­va­tive watch move­ments, coped in times of crises and de­voted his life to the cra n his wrist he wears an watch named a er him the a inci er­pet­ual al­en­dar Edi­tion Kurt Klaus, re­leased in 2007. It is a trib­ute to his cre­ation, the au­to­mated per­pet­ual cal­en­dar, a rev­o­lu­tionar move­ment that too ve ears to de­velop. he per­pet­ual cal­en­dar ex­isted but ours was a new gen­er­a­tion be­cause be­fore, the sys­tem was very com­pli­cated to pro­duce, and com­pli­cated for the user,” ex­plains Klaus. It was a huge suc­cess e pre­sented the a inci chrono­graph per­pet­ual cal­en­dar, and I will never for­get the price, it was 14,500 swiss francs in a gold case, which was about 10,000 less than the com­peti­tors’ price.” Jaeger-LeCoul­tre’s Rev­erso, too, earned its icon sta­tus in part be­cause when it was launched in 1 22 it was a re­sponse to a tech­ni­cal chal­lenge and a ma­jor in­no­va­tion in the in­dus­try.

To­day, to stay ahead of the game, com­pa­nies must con­tinue to de­velop new move­ments, com­pli­ca­tions and fea­tures that are smaller, faster and more ad­vanced than ever. ana eu says, one way to in­no­vate is to con­tinue push­ing the bound­aries of watch­mak­ing and dis­cov­er­ing new tech­niques,” giv­ing the ex­am­ple of the unique JaegerLeCoul­tre semi-spher­i­cal gy­ro­tour­bil­lon that makes the watch case signi cantly thin­ner, and the ground­break­ing duome­ter, which has two power re­serves, one for time­keep­ing and one for other com­pli­ca­tions. A. Lange & Sohne launched sev­eral new move­ments this year at the Salon In­ter­na­tional de la Haute Hor­logerie Genève (SIHH) and Sch­mid wears one of them: the Dato­graph Per­pet­ual Tour­bil­lon fea­tur­ing a yback func­tion. hile they strive to al­ways do things di er­ently and at the high­est pos­si­ble tech­ni­cal level, they would never sacri ce func­tion for in­no­va­tion, he in­sists. “Our de­sign lan­guage is very Ger­man. The watches are al­ways [func­tional] pieces; we would never come up with a watch where you would strug­gle to read the time, for ex­am­ple,” he says.

Jaeger-LeCoul­tre is also in­no­vat­ing in other ways. This year they launched a col­lab­o­ra­tion with shoe de­signer Chris­tian Louboutin to cre­ate a line of watch straps (red on the in­side, of course). “When bring­ing in some­one new, with a di er­ent back­ground, in uences and tastes, you end up nat­u­rally cre­at­ing some­thing that has never been done be­fore,” Pana eu says. The brand also launched Ate­lier Rev­erso this year, a plat­form where clients can cus­tom­ize a watch through an in-store app, and later on the com­pany’s web­site, choos­ing strap, col­ors and other de­tails such as cus­tom­ized en­grav­ings and enamel paint­ings on the spa­cious un­der­side of the Rev­erso case. “Be­cause ev­ery­thing is done in-house, in a way there’s noth­ing we can’t do,” says Pana eu, adding that ex­cep­tions would be re­quests that are bad for the watch’s per­for­mance or go against the brand’s prin­ci­ples.

The pur­pose is to make the watch more ac­ces­si­ble says Pana eu, ex­plain­ing, “the Rev­erso is such an icon and we want to avoid it reach­ing a stage where it’s con­sid­ered un­touch­able.” That said, with this kind of free­hand cus­tomiza­tion there’s a ne line be­tween orig­i­nal and gaudy (think vel­vet Porsche and plat­inum Bent­ley). But cus­tomiza­tion also al­lows the watches to be­come a lot more per­sonal and there­fore more sentimental; one client en­graved a mar­riage pro­posal on a Rev­erso he gi ed his fu­ture wife, while oth­ers choose to have enamel paint­ings of fam­ily pets, as well as elab­o­rate di­a­mon­den­crusted de­signs.

A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN

While some have sug­gested that smart­watches could threaten the me­chan­i­cal watch mar­ket, sim­i­larly to the Quartz Cri­sis of the 70s that Klaus helped IWC sur­vive, oth­ers say there is no com­par­i­son. “Smart­watches are not a threat,” as­sures Pana eu. “They are use­ful tools but what we do is to­tally di er­ent. When you talk about a me­chan­i­cal watch there is a lot of emo­tion to it. I doubt some­one will pass a smart­watch on to the next gen­er­a­tion,” he says. Klaus agrees: “They are two di er­ent worlds. IWC clients buy watches be­cause they love them. All our watches have his­tory and peo­ple like me­chan­i­cal watches,” adding that some col­lec­tors might even wear smart­watches from time to time, but it would not be a re­place­ment.

Pana eu points out that be­com­ing part of the Jaeger-LeCoul­tre fam­ily does not nec­es­sar­ily come at a high cost. With a start­ing price of a stain­less steel Rev­erso at around ,000 eu­ros, it is in­deed much more a ord­able than other lux­ury watches, while re­main­ing one of the most rec­og­nized and re­spected styles to date. Klaus makes the same claim: “Our lux­ury is at a re­al­is­tic price, not like some other lux­ury fac­to­ries who only have watches in the $100,000 range. We also have sim­i­lar watches in that range, but we have a very large price seg­ment. A sim­ple stain­less steel watch is still a lux­ury prod­uct be­cause it’s a move­ment, it’s IWC,” he says proudly.

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