The Luxury Watchmaker With A Purpose

08 January 2019
IWC, Watches, SWISS WATCHES, LUXURY WATCHES, Christoph Grainger-Herr
Christoph Grainger-Herr knows a thing or two building a brand – and so he should, the IWC Schaffhausen CEO has just taken this most unique of luxury watch brands to its 150-year anniversary… and has some high-flying plans for SIHH ‘19.

Embrace your brand’s DNA

“What is unique about our founding story and the way we approach watchmaking is that we have an engineering approach – a much more problem solving approach – making functional watches, such as pilot’s watches and navigation watches, ever since the 1930s. It’s also our unique positioning in the north-east of Switzerland, quite close to the German car industry with, for example, Mercedes-Benz just up the road from us, and I think there’s a shared spirit that is more on the precision engineering side than the artisan craftsmanship side.”

…then, stick to it, no matter what

On wearable tech… 

“A wearable technology device is a functional item that delivers greatly on health and fitness tracking but delivers nothing at all about self-expression. If somebody wears a watch that’s a functional piece of technology, it’s by definition disposable in the sense that it will be obsolete in two years’ time, there’s no question about it. And in terms of what this says about you as a person, there’s very limited content.”

…but be realistic

“I had this moment again last night with a client saying to us, you know, I catch myself over and over again getting my phone out to check the time, and I said, well yeah of course, that’s not a contradiction, because wearing a watch is part of your personal story and it’s a piece of jewellery – it’s not something you would use to always check the time and neither does it have to be. We often see people wearing both.”

…and where necessary, be adaptable

“For us the view [on wearable tech] is that we’ll keep researching in terms of integration of functions into our straps and accessories. So for example, if access identification payment becomes something that’s really a compelling proposition as devices, and if the battery technology and charging technology integrate seamlessly into accessories… But will an electronic watch replace IWC’s mechanical watch head? Not while I’m in charge.”

Know your clientele

“We are an ambitious brand and [Our watches] mark milestones. We see our clients are young professionals – of course big in the field of finance – but we also have many creative people who have built their own career celebrating milestones with different IWC watches. I think what appeals to people is this combination of a statement of confidence and this whole emotional value, and the adventure story. At the same time, it’s understated enough to not be showy or in-your-face. It’s a watch that talks about hard work and achievement.”

On the Middle Eastern market…

“It’s great! It’s a market that developed rapidly in terms of the retail presence and in recent years it’s been very dynamic. Although I was always highly frustrated as an architect to see that you build skyscrapers quicker than we build a boutique! But the latest developments have been quite astonishing to see. We had a lunch in Dubai to celebrate our 150 years milestone in the Burj Khalifa, and when I look at the big retail community that’s been created in just a short amount of time, it’s absolutely fascinating.”

Take a peek at what IWC has in store for SIHH ‘19, below.

The Luxury Watchmaker With A Purpose

Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”

The Luxury Watchmaker With A Purpose

Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire

The Luxury Watchmaker With A Purpose

Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium

The Luxury Watchmaker With A Purpose

Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince”