Karoline Huber, Brand Director of IWC (International Watch Company) navigates the world of chronographs with ease. She rattles off the benefits of a perpetual calendar and minute repeater pausing for breath only to smile in recollection of her first ever IWC watch. In her line of work, she has to wax eloquent about these creations, but the admiration feels heartfelt. As a representative of one of the iconic faces of the famed Swiss watch industry, she reveals her fascination with the world of premium horology.
Starting Young: My first watch was an IWC timepiece- the Pilot Mark 8. Without completely grasping its value, I cherished it because it was a gift from my father on my 14th birthday. I came to appreciate the watch as I got older and became interested in the art of watchmaking. Things don't always pan out the way we want it to and I wound up in an advertising agency. It was much later, eight years ago to be precise, that I met IWC CEO Georges Kern and worked with him on a project. The work was utterly absorbing and when he offered me a permanent profile with IWC, I jumped at the chance.
India Connect: The Indian market is primed for the classic Swiss watch brands. India is a very distinguished market when it comes to luxury products and it has strong roots linking it to luxury within their culture, such as yellow gold. To take up these distinctive Indian codes and incorporate it within the narrative of luxury, for me, is the challenge. India has this exuberant, vibrant and opulent strain whereas IWC's vibe is very classic and understated in design.
Heritage In the business of watchmaking, the Swiss label sets a benchmark of performance. IWC's 147-year-old heritage is American with a heavy tilt towards German precision. Being located in the Germanspeaking part of Switzerland, the manufacturing and assembling processes are heavily influenced by our legacy. What it means for the brand is minimal frills and very complicated movements. As a purveyor of timeless classic designs, there's no question of following trends for IWC. But, with smartwatches, we need to consider the inevitable transformation of the watch industry.
Jewellery Watches I am not personally very keen on jewellery watches. Some bejewelled timepieces are breathtaking but often the aspect of smart functionality is missing. Seemingly devised for aesthetics and not for practical use, these often fall into the category of purely ornamental. I can, however, appreciate the remarkable craftsmanship that goes into the setting of stones. IWC has a clear brand identity -'Engineered for Men' and, funnily the longer you tell a lady that she can't have something, the more she wants it. Consequently, we have a very large and loyal female clientele, who love these big timepieces as well the more dainty ones.
Special Touch Chronographs are a little like windows into the soul. IWC's product portfolio has a big range of complications- from tourbillons, perpetual calendar and retrograde date to hand-wound movements. The profile is made more exclusive with the production of in-house calibres. It's remarkable how enduring watchmaking is. Minute repeaters, created well over a century ago to reflect the passage of time through quarter hours is a clever complication coveted even today.
The Swiss watch heritage is what makes it timeless but we can't ignore the trend of smartwatches either.
Wrist Style Choose timepieces that suit your personality and your style preferences. Go classic or retro. A tourbillon movement watch is immediately recognisable as an expensive timepiece, with a complicated construction. The assembly and manufacturing processes are equally difficult because of the tourbillon's movement, which also lends a distinctive look to any wrist. For a gentleman who feels that the watch is first and foremost for himself and that it should be complicated on second sight rather than first sight, I would recommend a perpetual calendar. To me, it's a very refined watch that demonstrates class and style-a person who understands and loves his timepiece.