Esquire (Singapore) - - Style -

Be­ing built on the prin­ci­ples of en­gi­neer­ing, IWC is most def­i­nitely an in­no­va­tive brand with se­ri­ous clas­si­cal watch­mak­ing chops. Not only has it got a good balance of trend­set­ting mod­els such as the Pi­lot’s watches, but the Schaffhausen man­u­fac­ture is also a con­sis­tent pro­ducer of grande com­pli­ca­tions. Due to pop­u­lar de­mand it has made a few vin­tage-in­spired mod­els, many of which sell out as quickly as they were launched. Col­lec­tions like the Por­tugieser and the Big Pi­lot’s Watch re­main its most iconic best­sellers, but other lines like the Da Vinci and the Portofino have also be­gun to gar­ner a strong au­di­ence.

CEO, Christoph Grainger-Herr:

“I feel that the vin­tage trend is com­ing to an end and I think there are good rea­sons for that. In the watch in­dus­try as peo­ple feel more in­se­cure about where things were go­ing with dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy, the more this idea of vin­tage be­comes as­pi­ra­tional and in­ter­est­ing to peo­ple. This is the same time that vinyl records had a real re­ju­ve­na­tion, be­cause the ana­logue world of­fers an il­lu­sion of a bet­ter world, one that’s eas­ier to un­der­stand, less com­plex and, at the same time, much more emo­tional with the idea of retro ma­chines. With tech­nol­ogy, when the bat­tery runs out, there’s no way for the hu­man mind to grasp how it works. With vin­tage cars and watches, there’s al­ways this idea that I can take it apart and if I put my mind to it, un­der­stand how it works. There’s also this sense of eter­nity.

“I just came from the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed. There were some cars rac­ing at 110 years old. You do won­der if the elec­tric car will be rac­ing in 110 years’ time. This idea of longevity has brought about a lot of vin­tage de­sign trend be­cause it con­jures up ideas of great ad­ven­tures; a pi­o­neer­ing spirit. Peo­ple gen­er­ally be­lieved that the future was some­what bet­ter and yet this whole modernist idea of tech­ni­cal im­prove­ment lead­ing to bet­ter lives for ev­ery­body has crum­bled a lit­tle bit in re­cent years be­cause peo­ple are not quite so sure about the future. That’s why vin­tage de­sign be­came so in­ter­est­ing. But then the shift will come again. Peo­ple will say, ‘Ok, we like Mars travel and let’s colonise space again…’ This is all for­ward-looking think­ing, and for­ward-looking think­ing will lead to vi­sions of the future, which will lead to fu­tur­is­tic de­sign.

“If you looked purely at the ex­ter­nal de­sign of watches, then maybe yes, there’s less in­no­va­tion. How­ever, at the same time, there’s so much in­no­va­tion in the tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­ity of move­ments re­ally ben­e­fit­ing a much wider au­di­ence. We had years where in­no­va­tion in watch­mak­ing was fo­cused on the top end of watches, mak­ing them more com­pli­cated more per­fect etc. In re­cent years we’re see­ing more com­pa­nies putting in­no­va­tion into ba­sic move­ments that ben­e­fit a wide range of cus­tomers. This is a huge de­vel­op­ment hap­pen­ing on the inside of watches.

“The younger gen­er­a­tion is con­cerned about the value chain: where things come from, how are things made. In many in­dus­tries, you’re talk­ing about de­sign in one coun­try and pro­duc­tion in another. You have no real un­der­stand­ing of how a prod­uct comes to­gether. Which other in­dus­try can show you ev­ery side of the com­pany which has been around since 1868? I can show you ev­ery­thing from the ini­tial guy who does the sketch, through all the stages of pro­duc­tion, then to the guy who writes the ad­ver­tis­ing, all the way to the guy who puts the watch in the box and ships it out. Peo­ple can come to us and ask how is this bit made, we can lit­er­ally show them. I think this al­lows us to cap­ture peo­ple’s imag­i­na­tion.”


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