IWC Schaffhausen

Prestige Watches Guide, July-August 2015

Christian Knoop

«We went into mid-size segment targeting men and women»

Prestige met the creative director of IWC Schaffhausen who revealed the brand’s collection of various Portugieser complications.

Christian Knoop

Christian Knoop, creative director of IWC Schaffhausen. ©IWC Schaffhausen

Do you follow any codes related to the design of IWC Schaffhausen watches? In general, as a manufacture with a very technical background, IWC Schaffhausen watches are fairly large and have a pure design. For every collection, we’ve defined a couple of design codes, for example, the Portugieser is a large watch with a very simple and thin case.

The Portofino mid size, is a women’s watch. Can we consider it as a shift in the offering, since you are known to be a manufacture of men’s watches? We’ve been manufacturing watches for women for 140 years. It’s just the last couple of years that we focused predominantly on men’s watches, and especially the Portofino, which was created in 1984. The first Portofino was a man’s watch, a very large model. But few years later, there was lots of women’s watches. We had the female offer on the Portofino sized between 30 and 35mm. We had yellow gold bracelets, we had diamonds and bezels back in the eighties. It’s part of our brand heritage. We took this inspiration and brought it to the Portofino in the current years. Even this very bright color combination, having a silver dial with black hands and red strap. We had this in 1986. When we extended the Portofino collection last year, we wanted to bring those pieces without going into very small watches, IWC is known for large watches, we went into mid-size segment targeting men and women. Because we noticed the last couple of years, many women like to wear men’s watches, they like to wear sporty Chronograph from our men’s collection, they wear our Ingenieur 40mm, our Portugieser Chronograph or Portugieser Automatic. So we want to do mid-size collection bearing in mind that there are also markets where diamond set watches are very much appreciated by men. This encouraged us to come up with the Portofino mid-size.

You were saying that women used to wear your men’s watches, don’t you think it’s because of the lack of models for women? I don’t think that women wear IWC men watches, because there were no women’s watches. No this is their choice. I know many women wearing Rolex Daytona or Oyster men size because they like a lot the watch. We are just extending our offer towards smaller, mid size watch, to target a new group.

And how was the reaction to the mid-size? We launched the mid-size beginning of October last year, and I’m impressed of the very positive response we got. Not only we are selling very well, but also there are a lot of positive reactions from the people who need this model, we heard very few critical voices because before we launched the mid-size model, we did a market research worldwide, and the result of this research was for us a green light to go ahead.

About the Portugieser? We call it Portugieser which is exactly a german expression, so we go back to our roots. The last couple of years we said Portuguese which is the English translation, of Portugieser but now we are able to secure the trademark and are officially allowed to call it Portugieser. We also want to establish this as a brand name and this is where it belongs.

HANDOUT - The Portugieser Annual Calendar (Ref. IW503501) from IWC Schaffhausen: case in stainless steel, silver-plated dial and black alligator leather strap with a folding clasp in stainless steel. (PHOTOPRESS/IWC)

Portugieser IWC Schaffhausen Annual Calendar. © IWC Schaffhausen

You are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Portugieser. This year during SIHH, we make a double statement. On one hand we are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Portugieser collection. But we also make a statement for IWC Schaffhausen, in our manufacturing competence as watchmakers and innovators on movement and complications, so we are presenting probably the largest Portugieser collection ever. Next to that, there are a couple of new base movements and a new complication, the annual calendar reflects our new manufacturing center with the building in Schaffhausen, that is mainly planned to extend our capacities for in house production. Mainly focusing on In House calibers as well, we presented the new caliber, the 52, which goes on many of the new Portugieser pieces, but next to that we are presenting the small automatic caliber, the 42, and a chronograph caliber, the 69, which is going in our collections for the next few years.

HANDOUT - The Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days Edition ''75th Anniversary'' (Ref. IW510206) from IWC Schaffhausen: case in 18-carat red gold, silver-plated dial and dark brown alligator leather strap by Santoni with a pin buckle in 18-carat red gold. The unique timepiece is limited to 175 watches. (PHOTOPRESS/IWC)

Portugieser IWC Schaffhausen Hand Wounded 75th anniversary. © IWC Schaffhausen

Is the Portugieser the novelty for this year? We have two main references to celebrate the 75th anniversary, one is Portugieser handwatch which is on the first showcase down there, it’s a hand watch like the first Portugieser from the 1930. We took some inspiration from the fantastic dial design from the famous reference 325, which was a very special dial graphics with some crown print. We have the railway chapter ring, we have some numerals at 9, 12, 3 o’clock. So we translate this into a contemporary piece using one of our modern movements, day movement which transfers this classic design into a contemporary watch. So this watch we are launching in limited series has some pieces in steel and 175 pieces in red gold. Next to that we have another anniversary series on the digital perpetual calendar, it’s actually the first digital perpetual calendar on the Portugieser. We are launching three main references: one in platinum, limited to 25 pieces, two others in red gold limited to 75 pieces, the digital perpetual calendar has a specific display of 5 windows, and this has been inspired by the pocket watches of the XIXth century. But the most remarkable piece is the new annual calendar. For IWC, this is a premiere to launch the annual calendar, a calendar which nicely fits in between the simple automatic and perpetual calendar, offering fully programmed calendar for an entire year. You only have to adjust once a year, end of February. Next to the annual, we also re-launch our perpetual calendars, one of the most popular pieces in the Portugieser collection. We’re not only using the caliber 52, which is the reworked automatic caliber with seven days power reserve, but we also reworked the entire case to make it a bit sleeker, to work with an etched glass, to make it appear lighter, and on this piece we also redesigned the dials and in particular the double moon, will be half new double moon disk, and we designed the entire dial graphics.

HANDOUT - The Portugieser Perpetual Calendar with a double moon (Ref. IW503401) from IWC Schaffhausen: case in 18-carat white gold, midnight blue dial and black alligator leather strap by Santoni with a folding clasp in 18-carat white gold. (PHOTOPRESS/IWC)

Portugieser IWC Schaffhausen Perpetual Calendar. © IWC Schaffhausen

How do you choose what complications are you going to do for this year. For instance, the annual, because the ultimate is doing the perpetual, the annual in the heads of clients is less complicated than the perpetual? The Portugieser has been one of the most prestigious collections for IWC, that’s the reason why the Portugieser has the most important Portfolio. We have the grand complication, we have the minute repeater in the Portugieser. We have the tourbillon, it is the complication that is associated most in IWC with fine watchmaking and Haute Horlogerie. This is a place for some complications, the reason for the annual calendar is there was a gap between the simple pieces, the simple automats, the chronograph, the complications because the perpetual calendar was from the group of the most affordable complications, it is already much more expensive than the automatic, so we were seeking a complication we could place strategically in between and the annual calendar in our opinion makes perfect sense. It is very useful and not as complicated to realize as the perpetual calendar.Conducted in Geneva by Maria Nadim