If there’s one industry which has managed to simultaneously move with the times yet still hold on to the original core values, then it’s the Swiss watch industry. Brands like Patek Philippe, Rolex, Tag Heuer, Breitling and practically dozens more have all carved out a name for themselves in a highly competitive business, but there is one brand that is celebrating perhaps a little harder than others this year, and that’s IWC (International Watch Company). With headquarters in Schaffhausen, the company is now 150 years old, as 1868 was the year IWC was founded by American watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones.
To celebrate the epic milestone with a bang, IWC held a very fancy party in Geneva on January 16th with several brand ambassadors in attendance, including actors Bradley Cooper and Cate Blanchett. Although also a brand ambassador, formula one driver Lewis Hamilton was unable to make the event. In addition to the gala, IWC has released three incredibly beautiful limited-edition digital watches. These aren’t what you’d expect when you hear the word digital, as there is still a mechanical element to them, with jumping numerals which mark the passage of time. These look like they’ve come from the past.
Over 150 years, IWC has released a number of stunning watches, but the fact that its newest collection still retains the undefinable craftsmanship that’s evident in every watch made is very refreshing to see. Famous for its Pilot, Portuguese, and Porsche designs, IWC watches continue to trade incredibly well, proof that as long as the products you’re manufacturing are of the highest quality and impeccably designed, then it’s entirely possible to compete with major watch brands across the world.
Unlike other Swiss watch companies which simply refuse to have anything to do with digital technology or even offer the option to purchase a watch online, IWC is very open to new movements and staying current within an ever-changing world. In an interview with Forbes, CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr spoke about how significant digital platforms were to IWC, and its vision for manufacturing luxury watches for a female market.
“We all have to realize how our clients consume information nowadays, how they do their research and get in touch with others. It is clear that the method is changing fundamentally and so our strategies need to reflect that change. Digital today is way more important than it was five years ago and we have to pay attention to that because the digital world is growing,” said Grainger-Herr. “In terms of the overall watch industry, the female segment is a huge chunk of business. For us, we launched Portofino for women in 2014 […] and have some references of Pilot watches in 36mm, so we are complementing the female offering. This is becoming more and more important an area for us and is continuing to grow.”
Here’s to another 150 years for IWC.