The Three F had the chance to share a little talk with Chris Grainger-Herr, the new CEO of IWC Watches, during Goodwood #75MM. It stands for the 75th edition of the Goodwood Member Meeting, an event at Lord March’s Goodwood estate that is not only about racing, but also about heritage and responsibility. A new approach to the world of watches happened and now you are able to get into it too.
TheThreeF: So, could you tell us a little about this edition of Goodwood Festival and the relation of IWC with this event ?
Chris Grainger-Herr: For us Goodwood is such a brilliant place from a story-telling point of view: you have two homes with two different stories and how it is intertwined is pretty much thanks to Goodwood. The motorrace again is hold down in a beautiful, mesmerising location with very good access to cars and speed, so the members meeting in such a unique atmosphere is our best way to tell the story about the car race and to use this as a part of the new IWC Ingenieur‘s launch it’s perfect.
TTF: Progress on the issue, you are very young and we have noticed that the brand has been changing a lot during the last two years in terms of brand communication, new products… So, what is your idea, indeed, for the future of IWC?
CGH: The question I have to always say is that personally in the last ten years there was no lack of change, all these recent developments have been happening and it has been by successful planning in place. But I think my idea now is to continue where we started and continue to bring beautiful products, very nice and never stop dreaming and, then, secondly, really to know how to use that position in the collection to help grow and bringing the brand to the next stage: the ladies’ watches.
TTF: Precisely, ladies’ watches collection is growing a lot also by your effort to communicate. How did it become real?
CGH: I need to say all that started with the Mr-Porter and Net-a-Porter collaboration and taking out the watches from the watch institution complex and put them into this fashion display brings out that the female rate of watch buyers is much, much higher than in any other channel, about 40 % more than the traditional line of distribution. So, you see that potential is obviously there and you can manage to take watches from that context into the online context.
TTF: The conception of the watch is highly remarkable between men and women. Isn’t it this second more similar to an accessory, to a jewel conception?
CGH: It is quite important to notice that watches are always strong traditionally related to the female audience. It’s more than combining dresses, more than an accessory and that’s why you see in the context of fashion shopping that dresses, watches and accessories get along pretty well
TTF: Particularly, when did you first fall in love with watches ?
CGH: My dad was a watch collector and I was in touch with the idea of watches since I was very young. I am not saying that this was what I expected when I was in University but the day arrived and I couldn’t be more grateful about it.
TTF: Which watch are you wearing right now at your wrist?
CGH: This is the Ingenieur Perpetual Digital Calendar which I think is the hero piece of the collection. I put it a bound strap yesterday morning, quick strap changing system is as good solution depending on the conditions of the location and environment. The perpetual calendar automatically recognizes the different lengths of the months, including the leap day occurring every four years; it is extremely easy and convenient to adjust using the crown.
TTF: Above all the IWC collection, which is your favourite ?
CGH: Personally, I have two families that I tend to wear a lot. I wear, depending on the complications, big dates of a month, the Portofino white gold and rose gold, these are watches that I find myself wearing most. I always say there is a difference between what is your favourite watch and which one you wear a lot. I love the Pilots, however I don’t rather find myself looking at them much time, because on my wrist I love wearing the portofino and that doesn’t mean I do not love any other piece.
TTF: What else could you tell us about the mechanical of the vintage cars, the car race and the connection with the brand?
CGH: When you look at all different watch brands, there are many houses that are characterized for its craftmanship and sport and I think we have always been engineering this craftmanship. In contrast to mass production, mechanics assemble the performance units by hand. The mechanic is responsible from the first to the last step in the assembly process. The mechanic’s signature on the engine badge is a personal guarantee of quality and exclusivity. But also a sign of skills, passion and pride.Thanks to people like the previous CEO of the company that described himself a few years ago as a system’s engineer and that describes it very well. What IWC does is solving mechanical problems with function and design, this brings closer IWC to a car engineer than maybe to a jewel-maker. What you have here exactly is a part-gold engine that takes care of proportion and design. The sound of this engine, the passion for perfection and performance, and the beautiful design are mind-blowing. As well as the resemblance to the values of IWC.