IWC sales fell by almost 9% to CHF 812 million in 2019, according to an estimate by investment bank Morgan Stanley, so its 2020 launches need to be a commercial, as well as a critical, success.
To be fair, 2018 had been an exceptional year for IWC, given it was celebrating its 150th anniversary, so it was a touch year to beat.
It would be wrong for IWC to deviate from its core historic strengths, and this year it has devoted its entire 2020 launch effort to classical Portugieser watches.
The line-up includes fresh dial colours — green and burgundy — and a brand new complication, an indicator for high and low tides.
IWC is known for the pristine finishes of its dials and cases and, increasingly, as a manufacturer of its own movements.
The entire Portugieser line this year uses nothing but in-house movements.
“The amazing thing about the Portugieser is that its face has hardly changed since [the late 1930s]. The clear, functional design looks just as fresh and contemporary today as it did over 80 years ago. The Portugieser thus embodies precisely the same, timeless modernity that distinguishes IWC as a brand. The new collection now makes our best-known watch family even more attractive and demonstrates how the iconic design continues to evolve,” explains Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen.
IWC, along with several Richemont brands, is increasingly hoping to stay in touch with its customers’ watches over their lifetime. Its usual two year warranty can be extended by a further six years if customers sign up for the My IWC programme, which keeps the conversation between brand and client alive.
IWC is also supporting its own international network of monobrand boutiques by limiting distribution of certain models to its these stores.
A number of Portugieser models with blue dials in gold cases are being reserved as boutique-only, including a Portugieser Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph and a Perpetual Calendar Tourbillon.
The most commercial model, which will be sold into wholesale, is the Portugieser Automatic 40 housing the 82200 calibre, but more popular with those able to afford it, will be the Perpetual Calendar 42 using the inhouse 82650 movement.
Most eye-catching of the 2020 collection is the a nautical sports watch, the 44mm Portugieser Yacht Club with a newly developed tide indication on the dial. It is offered in an all stainless steel version or a combination of 18ct gold and stainless steel.