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IWC Schaffhausen - Walter Volpers on the development of the 150th anniversary collection

IWC Schaffhausen Walter Volpers on the development of the 150th anniversary collection

IWC Schaffhausen’s Product Manager Technics explains the development of this year’s capsule collection of limited editions for the brand’s 150th anniversary.

What is the role of the Product Manager Technics at IWC?
To put it simply, I bring the dream to the wrist. More specifically, this means that when we have an idea we put it down on paper and from that moment on I am responsible for all the steps required to bring the watch into production. We separate Product Management Technics from Product Management Marketing because they are two separate strains. One is about how to produce the watch and the other is about how to communicate about the watch, so the two sides meet at the end of the process. Since the development of a watch can take up to five years, or even more, depending on the movement and the case type, we really have to plan in advance.

The focus at IWC Schaffhausen this year is on the 150th anniversary limited editions. There are a lot of watches in the collection so how did you manage this project?
IWC is known for launching a product line or new references in a particular product line every year, usually with about 25-35 different models. So the quantity this year is actually quite normal for one of our launches. What is new, however, is that we are launching watches in four different product lines at the same time. We started with the development of some movements five years ago, but not of the watches. We knew we wanted to do a tribute to Pallweber and we knew how it would look like, so we started to think in which product line we could put it. The problem was that it did not fit into any of our existing product lines so we introduced a completely new case. If you look at the lugs, for example, this is a design that we have never had before. The case is also rounded at the edges and reminiscent of pocket watches, as is the onion crown.

Walter Volpers on the development of the 150th anniversary collection

Tribute to Pallweber Edition © IWC

The other models were as challenging but we knew what they might look like and what icons we should consider for our 150-year anniversary. So the new collection is a mixture of what we have done over the past 150 years, what the milestones in the company’s history are and what our iconic models are. Add in some local knowledge from our different markets, and input from the sales teams and you have the 2018 collection.

What challenges did you face in developing the Tribute to Pallweber model?
When the watch was first introduced in the early 19th century it was a revolution, because all other watches at the time had hands. There are different possible approaches to producing that particular movement and we found out that the way the original movement was produced was not really suitable for today’s standards. For example the power reserve. The new calibre 94200 has 60 hours power reserve coming from two barrels – one for moving the discs and one for the time. When you have so much power available, you are able to do more, so we could use bigger discs that allowed us to use an hour disc that goes around the circumference of the dial. Another challenge was that the two barrels had to work together and our research and development team came up with a great solution for this, a patented release mechanism.

What makes the difference between whether a watch makes it into the collection or not?
It’s an emotional decision because you can always find arguments for or against a particular model. We can consider the price range, for example, and decide to introduce more models in a particular price segment. But for a 150-year anniversary we also need complications, so we could not go on price alone. In the end it is a whole range of different criteria that determines the final choice.

How do you determine the limited edition runs?
As you can see, we have a lot of different limited numbers that have no relation to the 150th anniversary. To arrive at these numbers we had to consider our annual production volumes and then work out whether we could sell the quantities we were proposing for each limited edition. A lot of thought had to go into this, because this is a capsule collection with a limited lifespan.

Apart from the Tribute to Pallweber watch, what are the other stand-out models in the 2018 collection for you?
It depends on how you view the capsule collection. You can look at it from the emotional point of view or the engineering point of view. Taking the engineering point of view, the constant force movement is particularly interesting. It has the same basic movement as in the Sidérale Scafusia, which is the most complicated watch that IWC has ever made. We also have the Portugieser Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon, which has a tourbillon at 12 o’clock and the Kurt Klaus perpetual calendar module, so it’s a combination of two very high complications. From the emotional point of view, only the customer can answer, but my personal favourite is the Big Pilot Annual Calendar. I think the design fits perfectly in the Pilot’s watch product line.

Walter Volpers on the development of the 150th anniversary collection

Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition 150 Years © IWC

 

 

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With a clear emphasis on technology and development, IWC Schaffhausen has been manufacturing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. Its philosophy, based on a passion for watchmaking, aims to maintain a spirit of indefatigable initiative and impeccable craftsmanship.

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