By Rebecca Doulton
It's a big year for IWC watches as the famous Portugieser collection celebrates its 75th birthday.
First, the IWC Portofino Midsize watch for men and women was launched with a splendid campaign featuring an all-star cast, including Cate Blanchett, Ewan McGregor and Christoph Waltz, directed by Peter Lindbergh. Next, a new annual calendar complication was added to IWC's growing repertoire of watch movements, giving the brand more autonomy over production. And last, but by no means least, two new boutiques have opened their doors, in Miami and, most recently, London.
This is IWC's first UK boutique and the brand has set up shop in Mayfair's elegant New Bond Street. In keeping with the Art Deco exterior of the building, the boutique's interior features Art Deco elements, making it unique in comparison to other IWC boutiques worldwide. With two floors of retail space decorated in monochrome colours, Macassar wood and Carrara marble, IWC has also made a special edition IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar for the London boutique. A nice detail for horophiles is the permanent watchmaker installed on the first floor, offering both advice and watch servicing.
IWC CEO Georges Kern underlines the importance of having a presence in the UK: "An IWC boutique in London has been a key focus of the brand for some time now and we're delighted to finally be able to offer our customers a destination where they can choose from the best selection of IWC watches in the UK."
The stars of the show at SIHH 2015 were the new IWC Portugieser watches. The Annual Calendar watch is in fact IWC's first annual calendar complication, with remarkably easy-to-read information. The month, date and day are shown in three semi-circular windows at 12 o'clock, and the watch is presented with either a blue or white dial, in stainless steel or rose gold. Equipped with IWC's brand new calibre 52850, the watch has an impressive power reserve of seven days.
One IWC watch that will look particularly at home in the Art Deco surroundings of the London boutique is the 75th anniversary edition Portugieser Hand-Wound Eight Days, which is reminiscent of the original Portugieser watch of the 1930s. Again, the in-house calibre provides the watch with a generous power reserve of eight days and, according to the brand, the only difference between this watch and its forbear is the inclusion of a date window in the small seconds dial. Models in rose gold are limited to 175 watches, while the stainless steel version will have 750 watches, each and every one fitted with a quality alligator strap produced by Italian shoe manufacturer Santoni.
The 75th anniversary edition IWC Portugieser Hand Wound Eight Days is reminiscent of the original Portugieser watch of the 1930s. Equipped with an in-house calibre, the only difference between this watch and its forbear is the inclusion of a date window in the small seconds dial.
IWC CEO Georges Kern says: “The retail concept we’ve created not only reflects our unique identity but offers an exceptional customer experience. We are looking forward to welcoming our guests at this marvellous location and inviting them to experience IWC’s philosophy of engineering excellence combined with brand values such as craftsmanship, style and innovation.”
With two floors of retail space decorated in monochrome colours, Macassar wood and Carrara marble, IWC has made a special edition Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar for the London boutique.
An IWC watchmaker has been positioned on the first floor, offering maintenance advice and servicing.
The second floor of the new IWC boutique in London offers a members' club lounge experience, with a warming fireplace and a drinks menu.
2015 heralds the Year of the Portugieser with IWC's debut of an annual calendar watch fitted with the new in-house 52850 calibre, which took engineers five years to develop.