Wal­ter Vol­pers:

« My job is to bring the dream to the wrist »

Prestige (Lebanon) - - Contents - In­ter­view con­duc­ted in Ge­ne­va by MA­RIA NA­DIM

« Mon rôle est de concré­ti­ser le rêve d’IWC sur le poi­gnet » . ........................................

With a clear fo­cus on tech­no­lo­gy and de­ve­lop­ment, the Swiss watch ma­nu­fac­tu­rer IWC Schaff­hau­sen has been pro­du­cing ti­me­pieces of las­ting va­lue since 1868. The com­pa­ny has gai­ned an in­ter­na­tio­nal re­pu­ta­tion ba­sed on a pas­sion for in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions and tech­ni­cal in­ge­nui­ty. One of the world’s lea­ding brands in the luxu­ry watch seg­ment, IWC crafts mas­ter­pieces of Haute Hor­lo­ge­rie at their fi­nest, com­bi­ning su­preme pre­ci­sion with ex­clu­sive de­si­gn. To ce­le­brate its 150th an­ni­ver­sa­ry, IWC Schaff­hau­sen is laun­ching this year a ju­bi­lee col­lec­tion, com­pri­sing a to­tal of 28 li­mi­ted edi­tion watches from the Por­tu­gie­ser, Por­to­fi­no, Pi­lot’s watches and Da Vin­ci fa­mi­lies with a spe­cial watch in tri­bute to Pall­we­ber .

This year marks IWC 150th an­ni­ver­sa­ry. IWC’s sto­ry be­gins with the spi­rit of en­dea­vor and a bold, en­tre­pre­neu­rial idea: in 1868, Ame­ri­can watch­ma­ker Flo­ren­tine Arios­to Jones foun­ded the In­ter­na­tio­nal Watch Com­pa­ny in Schaff­hau­sen. With the aid of emi­nent­ly qua­li­fied Swiss pro­fes­sio­nals, state- of- the- art mac­hine tech­no­lo­gy and hy­dro­po­wer from the Rhine, his aim was to pro­duce top qua­li­ty po­cket watch mo­ve­ments for the US mar­ket. In the sum­mer of 1884, IWC ushe­red in the di­gi­tal era, and the first po­cket watches with jum­ping nu­me­rals left the work­shops. They were ba­sed on the Pall­we­ber sys­tem de­ve­lo­ped by Salz­burg ba­sed watch­ma­ker, Jo­sef Pall­we­ber, and sho­wed the hours and mi­nutes in large nu­me­rals on ro­ta­ting discs. Jo­hannes Rau­schen­bach Schenk, head of IWC at the time, was fas­ci­na­ted by this mo­dern ap­proach of time dis­play and se­cu­red the pa­tents for the hand­less watches. Ho­we­ver, since too­thed cogs were res­pon­sible for the ener­gy- in­ten­sive job of ad­van­cing the dis­play discs, the po­wer re­serve of the Pall­we­ber po­cket watches was re­la­ti­ve­ly li­mi­ted.

In your opi­nion, how did IWC evolve since you star­ted with them? My connec­tion with IWC star­ted 23 years ago when I first came to Swit­zer­land. I fell in love with the brand when I saw their watches. In 2009, I star­ted to work for IWC in the sup­ply chain, pur­cha­sing com­po­nents for the mo­ve­ments and the chal­lenge back then was in in­crea­sing the quan­ti­ties. We were in a stra­te­gy of ma­nu­fac­tu­ring mo­ve­ments and we had to in­crease pro­duc­tion from 10000 mo­ve­ments to 30000- 40000 mo­ve­ments. To­day we ma­nu­fac­ture around 35000 and I hel­ped in­crease the pro­duc­tion in pur­cha­sing for the sup­ply chain for these big quan­ti­ties. IWC evol­ved in a sense that to­day the mar­ket is fas­ter, the people change their opi­nion fas­ter, they are in­fluen­ced by the so­cial me­dia, the so­cial me­dia is in­fluen­cing the tastes and trends.

Do you real­ly think that so­cial me­dia has an in­fluence when it comes to buying watches? We have a large part of col­lec­tors wri­ting about the brand, and 70% of the de­ci­sions to pur­chase are done through In­ter­net or so­cial me­dia. The ques­tion is how or who is in­fluen­cing and in what di­rec­tion. I think luxu­ry has be­come ve­ry tren­dy and I find this a lit­tle bit contra­dic­to­ry, be­cause luxu­ry has a link to his­to­ry, while trends are set and di­sap­pear ve­ry qui­ck­ly. It’s ve­ry dif­fi­cult to read the mar­ket, and un­ders­tand what people ex­pect is a new chal­lenge.

Can you tell us about the ju­bi­lee col­lec­tion? For our 150th an­ni­ver­sa­ry, we present 30 re­fe­rences. Nor­mal­ly IWC un­veils re­fe­rences in one pro­duct line, this year we are in­tro­du­cing no­vel­ties in four pro­duct lines: the Por­tu­gie­ser, the Por­to­fi­no, the Da Vin­ci and the Pi­lot’s. Wi­thin 30 re­fe­rences, four re­fe­rences are com­ple­te­ly new and can­not be as­si­gned to any of the IWC pro­duct lines.

These re­fe­rences have a com­ple­te­ly new case and crown de­si­gn and have a di­gi­tal hour and mi­nute dis­play. They are a tri­bute to Pall­we­ber com­pli­ca­tion. One of them is al­so a po­cket watch. What is al­so ve­ry in­ter­es­ting about these 30 re­fe­rences is that they have a uni­fying de­si­gn ele­ment: they all have lac­que­red dials that re­quire about ten coats of lac­quer to get the en­amel look of the 20’ s. White dials have black nu­me­rals and blue hands and the blue dials have white num­bers and sil­ver hands. The se­cond com­mon fea­ture is the po­li­shed case. The clas­si­cal watches like the Por­tu­gie­ser, the

Por­to­fi­no and the Da Vin­ci are al­rea­dy po­li­shed but if you look at the Pi­lot’s, they are nor­mal­ly sand­blas­ted or grin­ded to give them the look of spor­ti­ness, but for this edi­tion they have the po­li­shed cases that give them the clas­sy look. All watches come with black al­li­ga­tor straps and they all have the 150 years si­gnet en­gra­ved in the back case, the os­cil­la­ting ro­tor or in a me­dal­lion on the mo­ve­ment. Is it a way for you to dif­fe­ren­tiate a Por­tu­gie­ser from the 150th an­ni­ver­sa­ry col­lec­tion from ano­ther Por­tu­gie­ser? Exact­ly. In the ju­bi­lee col­lec­tion num­bers and in­dexes are prin­ted, this fea­ture is drawn from the first watches ma­nu­fac­tu­red by IWC. We al­so have a lot of new mo­ve­ments: Ca­libre 82200, which is an au­to­ma­tic mo­ve­ment with 60 hours po­wer re­serve, in­tro­du­ced in­to the Da Vin­ci. Our new ca­libre 69000 goes in­to the Por­tu­gie­ser chro­no­graph, de­fi­ni­te­ly an ico­nic watch. Ano­ther new mo­ve­ment is the per­pe­tual ca­len­dar with a tour­billon at 12 o’clock. What’s al­so spe­cial about the col­lec­tion is that all mo­dels come in li­mi­ted edi­tions. Which one is your fa­vo­rite from the Ju­bi­lee col­lec­tion? I am per­so­nal­ly in love with the Big Pi­lot An­nual Ca­len­dar, whose date on­ly needs to be chan­ged once a year and it has a se­ven days po­wer re­serve. It’s at the same time clas­si­cal and spor­ty.

Would you say the Tri­bute to Pall­we­ber is the high­light of the ju­bi­lee col­lec­tion, due to its com­ple­te­ly new aes­the­tic,

new mo­ve­ment? We have a new strap, a new case de­si­gn, a new mo­ve­ment, a new way to dis­play time and we have th­ree new pat­terns in the mo­ve­ment, it’s de­fi­ni­te­ly the tal­king piece of the year.

Why do you think it took so much time for IWC to do so­me­thing new, in a sense that it’s not part of one of those

col­lec­tions that we are tal­king about? I think it’s ne­ver ea­sy to bring a new icon to the mar­ket. The his­to­ry of IWC has been mo­ving around in­no­va­tion in ma­te­rials, with ce­ra­mics, with ti­ta­nium... Now we are brin­ging ce­ra­ta­nium, a com­bi­na­tion of ti­ta­nium and ce­ra­mic, which we in­tro­du­ced last year with the

Aqua­ti­mer. New ma­te­rials, new tech­no­lo­gy, new mo­ve­ment is the he­ri­tage of IWC. To­day, for the 150th an­ni­ver­sa­ry we in­tro­du­ced a new mo­ve­ment in a new case de­si­gn, be­cause the di­gi­tal hour and mi­nute com­pli­ca­tion does not quite fit to any of the other pro­duct lines. It’s so­me­thing from the past which was on­ly known in the po­cket watches, but we stop­ped doing po­cket watches twelve years ago. Is it just one shot in these li­mi­ted edi­tions, or do you think you might sin­ce­re­ly de­ve­lop it in ano­ther pro­duct line? The mo­ve­ment is great, in­no­va­tive. We will have to see...

It had to be that big as a watch? Yes, you have a mo­ve­ment with two bar­rels and we nee­ded space for the two bar­rels. It’s a watch with six­ty hours po­wer re­serve, in the past the ori­gi­nal Pall­we­ber com­pli­ca­tion had on­ly around 30 hours of po­wer re­serve.

Wal­ter Vol­pers, As­so­ciate Di­rec­tor Pro­duct Ma­na­ge­ment Tech­niques of IWC Schaff­hau­sen.

IWC Tri­bute to Pall­we­ber. Edi­tion « 150 Years » .

Big Pi­lot’s Watch An­nual Ca­len­dar. Edi­tion « 150 Years » .

Da Vin­ci Au­to­ma­tic Moon Phase 36. Edi­tion « 150 Years » .

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