Cover IWC Schaffhausen CEO, Christoph Grainger-Herr (Photo: IWC Schaffhausen)

IWC Schaffhausen’s CEO on Watches & Wonders 2021 and Asia’s importance for his team

What does the modern collector want from watchmakers?

Clients are looking for models that have a longstanding DNA, a clear lineage and a heritage that’s been developed over time. The uncertainly of crisis mode means that clients are looking for reassurance. They’re looking for aesthetics that they’re familiar with and that are perceived as low risk. I think this gives people a sense of security when so many things are uncertain. There has also been a big shift from anything goes to a refocus on what should we wear, how should we consume, and are our spending habits sustainable?

Sport watches are also becoming increasingly popular...

This is a global trend, but we’ve really seen this take off in Asia, especially among younger consumers, who previously went for classic models. Now they’re developing their own sense of style and they aren’t as influenced by their parents’ generation. It’s not about obvious status symbols anymore, especially in mainland China. It’s about personal taste.

How is IWC accommodating these collectors’ needs?

We’ve integrated our in-house movements into all our main lines. We’ve revisited our Big Pilot’s Watch 43 and Chronograph 41 models to really make sure that we have something for first-time sports watch buyers. They are iconic, versatile and have been upgraded. Yes, they’re inspired by a pilot’s instrument, but they’re also very practical and modern.

See also: Everything You Need To Know About The Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph By IWC Schaffhausen

This is especially true for the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41.

Absolutely. At 41 mm, it’s unisex and very wearable. The watch is powered by a very high-quality, in-house movement. If you’re looking to buy your first watch and you’re looking for a sporty design, the Chronograph 41 has it all.

The new Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert is also turning heads.

This watch says a lot about what IWC stands for. We’re about calendars, chronographs and robust performance materials. We’re the pioneers of titanium and ceramic, and we invented our own Ceratanium alloy, which combines the best of both worlds to bring together the scratch resistance of ceramic with the structural integrity and lightness of titanium. This is all encapsulated in our Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert.

What makes this watch special?

The perpetual calendar is an ingenious mechanism: it’s like a supercomputer for the wrist. It’s pre-programmed to know every leap year, every moonphase, every four-digit year, and more. And for the Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert, it’s as user friendly as it is robust because you operate it via a single crown. You don’t have complicated adjustment pushers at the side of the case. This is an everyday watch. It’s not supposed to be kept in a collector’s cabinet or safe somewhere.

See also: Watches & Wonders 2020: The Very Best From IWC, Cartier, Montblanc, and More