Engineering and storytelling are at the heart of Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, and aficionados will discover the full history of its creations in a specially curated show now on in Singapore.
Touted as IWC’s broadest retrospective exhibition in Southeast Asia, the two-week event from Oct 14 to 27 chronicles the evolution of its three most successful watch families – Pilot’s Watches, Portugieser and Portofino.
“The beauty of IWC is in the unique spirit of its watch families,” says Stanislas Rambaud, Managing Director for IWC South East Asia. “For instance, our Pilot’s Watches bring to life the dream of flying; the Portugieser carries our most sophisticated complications; and the Portofino captures the classic elegance that we, as a luxury brand, do exceedingly well.”
Close to 20 timepieces were picked out by the IWC Museum team in Schaffhausen, including the iconic Pilot’s Watch Mark 11 from 1948, famed for introducing the antimagnetic, soft-iron inner case; the Portugieser Ref. 325 from 1942, coveted by Portuguese ship captains who wanted the precision of a pocket watch in a large wristwatch; and the Portofino Hand Wound Moonphase Ref. 5251 which was unveiled in 1984 and developed from a simple pocket watch by IWC’s former design head Hanno Burtscher and master watchmaker Kurt Klaus.
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At the same time, the exhibition is a chance for IWC to show its ‘softer’ side – namely its tradition of engineering ladies’ watches. “It’s very important to us to share IWC’s rich history of creating women’s watches,” says David Seyffer, curator of the IWC Museum in Schaffhausen, in an email interview. “IWC tends to be perceived as a male-oriented brand, with its bold and evocative design, but we actually have 140 years’ experience in making watches for women.”
Dr Seyffer personally picked the watches for the ‘Inside IWC History Exhibition’ segment of the retrospective held at Takashimaya Shopping Centre in partnership with Sincere Fine Watches. One highlight is IWC’s first women’s watch, which has never been shown to the public in Singapore.
“Only two of these watches are known to exist worldwide and in the summer of 2019, the IWC Museum was able to purchase one of them,” Dr Seyffer reveals. This is the Savonette Lady’s Pocket Watch ‘Jones’, which is travelling out of Switzerland for the first time.
“The watch was made in 1879 and sold to a local family,” he adds. The rest of the ladies’ watch exhibits “demonstrate the rich history of women’s watches within IWC since then”.
In addition, “The three watch families are a very nice way to show the different ‘worlds’ of IWC and the different types of timepieces we manufacture,” Dr Seyffer says. “The Pilot’s Watches have a sporty look while the Portofino and Portugieser represent the typical round IWC watches that made the brand famous.”
The team spent a lot of time discussing which models to use for the exhibition. “There are so many interesting watches, but the objective was to make a ‘best of’ selection.”
The IWC Mark 11 navigational wristwatch from 1948 was selected for the exhibition as it was the inspiration for the design of the new generation of Pilot’s Watches rolled out in 2019, including the new Spitfire models. The original Big Pilot’s watch from 1940 was included to show the origins of the design.
“We are proud to debut in Singapore this unique exhibition concept, which allows our most valued clients, fans of IWC and the public to immerse themselves in the emotions of our most successful lines at the same time,” sums up Mr Rambaud.
The Inside IWC History Exhibition is open to the public now until Oct 27 from 10am to 9.30pm, at the Level 1 Main Atrium of Takashimaya Shopping Centre. Admission is free.
This article was originally published in The Business Times.
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