IWC Schaffhausen

Always obsessed with the next big thing, IWC manages to capture audiences worldwide with their keen sense of materials, marketing and magic. Our Founder Karishma Karer at The Hour Markers caught up with Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO at IWC Schaffhausen to speak about the comeback with ceramic watches and more!

Christoph Grainger-Herr with Karishma Karer
Christoph Grainger-Herr with Karishma Karer

THM: IWC has long been associated with the world of ceramics since the 80s with the Da Vinci collection, in black and white. What was the intent behind the relaunch this year?

Christoph: It’s not a relaunch but a continuity of 40 years. We’ve done ceramic watches in the Pilot’s since 1994. The game-changer for us was military watches. When we started exploring different schools of watches such as Pilots, we realized how tastes varied since we came in as watch manufacturers. There is a huge array of timepieces that have really inspired us. Driving around different landscapes and places in California, and experiencing the different uniforms, harnesses, equipment and the operating environment inspired these designs and our shift from black ceramic. The first Pilots watch was a direct translation from ceramic watches. Today, we’re constructing ceramic cases even though we have a huge range of steel chrono watches.

(L) The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Ceramic Ref. IW3705 (1994 ); (R ) Da Vinci Ceramic Perpetual (1986)
(L) The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Ceramic Ref. IW3705 (1994 ); (R ) Da Vinci Ceramic Perpetual (1986)

Not many will fly in an aircraft but wearing our watch is offering them that experience. While offering the same experience, it is high-performing, has the robustness and protection required for a highly functional watch.

THM: It’s a very interesting campaign- ‘Sound Of Colour’. The collection, namely IWC Lake Tahoe, IWC Woodland in the Pantone series, is a very unique play. Is this shade going to be accessible for all?

Christoph: No. While we have no copyright on the colors, we understand our approaches and our engineering approaches have precision, clarity and functionality. Pantone is really the global color. It is the reference to bring very different creative processes together. Pantone does two things- it does a very precise color engineering since every color is very subjective. Next, it acts as a shared communication standard.

Pilot's Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe”

For example, when you look at a printed ceramic dial, many different production standards go into it: making the case, the dial, the textiles etc and Pantone has helped bring this together. When you think about all these colors, it’s a different mood and atmosphere—almost like driving through a desert. The only thing that was missing was music which has been catered to, the idea was to truly find music that underlines the color in this collection and gives it a much better feel.

THM: IWC has been known for serious watches but this is a fun collection! Talking about colors, you started with the Mojave Desert which was a huge success and was sold out the minute it was launched. And now we have Woodland and Lake Tahoe, can we expect more pantone shades? Perhaps something towards the pastel family?

Christoph: Not particularly pastel but we do have a few colors on the radar towards the feminine side. Our sizing and colors do appeal to them. I’m meeting more and more ladies that are discussing our watches and that’s really interesting! It also gives a different perspective since you think about different ergonomics, proportions, sizing, etc.

Big Pilot's Watch Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert”
Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert”

THM: In general, do you think premium watch brands are focusing on metals? We’ve seen a lot of titanium being used. Are you also looking to explore that range?

Christoph: Yes, titanium will always have a huge role to play owing to its sturdiness, lightness and toughness. Back in 2000, most of our collection had titanium watches. We’re also launching a new titanium watch in the coming months.

Pilot's Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Woodland”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Woodland”

THM: Coming to India, any specific plans that IWC has in store?

Christoph: Yes! India is very much on the radar this year.

While Chris goes on to share his favorite watches this season, IWC has surely made its mark with the Sound Of Color collection. We can’t wait to see what’s in store next!