Complications: additional functions that increase the complexity of a watch. Complications: unexpected events that make a situation more problematic. The present moment in time is not easy for the luxury industry, after a sequence of negative circumstances that include, considering the last year or so, the Swiss franc revaluation in January 2015, the terror attacks in Paris, Brussels and Istanbul, and most recently the uncertainty following Brexit. But Beppe Ambrosini, IWC Schaffhausen Brand Manager for the Italian market, is still confident.
"The Swiss watch industry has long been accustomed to dealing with problems, such as the quartz crisis in the 1970s that put many brands out of business. The situation in Europe over the last few months has considerably reduced the number of Chinese visitors to Italy, but this has been in part offset by an increase in the number of Italian and American customers entering our boutiques. As regards Brexit, it’s too early yet to draw conclusions, and I think that it could be both a positive and a negative factor. And there is another consideration: watches have always been a safe haven in turbulent times, analogous to gold, classic cars and paintings.”
The problem is, how do you identify a watch that could represent an investment commodity? “The primary factors are its quality and its rarity. Consider a piece like the IWC Portugieser Chronograph Rattrapante, launched to celebrate the new Milan boutique. This model, based on a Valjoux chronograph movement with the split-second functionality engineered in-house by IWC, is one of the most coveted pieces in the range. The last watches of this type were made in 2006, exactly ten years ago. The limited edition will comprise just 100 pieces, available exclusively at the Milan boutique. Considering its quality and rarity, the price of €21,500 is very attractive.”
The boutique on Via Montenapoleone in Milan is the brand’s third store in Italy, after Piazza di Spagna, Rome, and Piazza San Marco, Venice, and it has received the sumptuous new interiors based on macassar wood, steel and glass that form part of IWC’s new boutique concept. Opening here is an important step forward for the brand.
“Via Montenapoleone is one of the most important and famous streets in the world. We waited several years before opening this boutique, because we were looking for a location of appropriate prestige and position. It used to be the Panerai boutique, and we transformed it completely, to exploit all three levels available. Highly recommended for all watch lovers.