Exclusive interview with IWC’s Stanislas Rambaud

KEEPER OF A HERITAGE. The Managing Director of IWC for South East Asia, Stanislas Rambaud, talks about social media and the main challenges for the brand

This year, legendary Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen turns 150. To celebrate this momentous milestone, the company unveiled a special Jubilee collection at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), held in Geneva earlier this year. The collection comprises a total of 25 limited-edition models from the Portugieser, Portofino, Big Pilot’s Watch and Da Vinci families, along with four models from the completely new IWC Tribute to Pallweber family.

Furthermore, IWC also launched a retrospective exhibition in Singapore to celebrate a century and a half of watchmaking. The exhibition showcased the company’s most defining historical creations alongside artistic and technical highlights from its new Jubilee collection. DAMAN was lucky enough to catch up with the Managing Director of IWC for South East Asia, Stanislas Rambaud, for a little chat as he was inaugurating the IWC 150th Anniversary Exhibition at ION Orchard.

DAMAN: The focus at IWC Schaffhausen this year is the 150th anniversary limited editions. With this year’s novelties, do you have a specific message you want to convey?
Stanislas Rambaud:
It’s definitely a very important milestone in the story of IWC. We are launching a celebration with the Jubilee collection that is made of 29 limited editions, and the idea of this collection is to create a tribute to the legacy of our founder, Florentine Ariosto Jones, in engineering high quality time machines. We paid tribute to our iconic collections like the Portugieser, Big Pilot’s Watch, Portofino and also the Da Vinci within the Jubilee collection.

It’s also an interpretation of IWC from the past to the present. One of the best interpretations of the past is the IWC Tribute to Pallweber. It was the first time that we had a digital display on a pocket watch, and we decided to adopt this pocket watch movement to a wristwatch, which we’ve launched as a part of the new collection. Also in terms of design, we paid tribute to our heritage by using a specific design code. We have two colors: The blue and the white dial that are all made of twelve layers of lacquer. The purpose was to give options in terms of design and price points for the fans of IWC.

DAMAN: IWC made a bold statement by appointing Bradley Cooper as brand ambassador. Are there any particular reasons why IWC chose him and how do you see the future of this partnership?
Stanislas Rambaud:
As you may already know, IWC has a strong link with the world of cinema. We have been supporting different film festivals around the world; we are basically very much involved in the world of Hollywood, especially with the Portofino collection. And it’s not actually new that we have a friend of the brand that comes out from the cinema.

What’s new is that Bradley Cooper is now the face of the brand on our advertising campaign, which is something that we didn’t do in the past. We share a lot of values together. We share the passion for what we are doing and we’re very passionate about watches. He has achieved a lot in his career and also, he also loves to give back—like IWC. We give back through a lot of different associations like the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, while Cooper does it via the Bradley Charles Cooper Foundation. I believe he’s a great ambassador and I think this partnership is very strong.

Bradley Cooper in IWC’s global campaign

DAMAN: IWC appears to have a diverse target market today and offers many different watches. Do you feel that this is an advantage?
Stanislas Rambaud:
Yes, absolutely. To have six distinctive collections, I think, is quite unique. Why? Because these days, it’s so rare for a brand to have so many different strong collections with different designs. We also have a wide price range, starting from thousands of dollars to more than a million. With what we have to offer today, we can answer the need of almost every customer looking for a luxury watch. I would say this is definitely our strength and it’s quite unique, because we offer sport watches, complications and classic designs with different price range. We have the complete offer.

DAMAN: Does this reflect new marketing strategies, including the use social media?
Stanislas Rambaud:
This is an interesting topic. I would say, social media is one of the reasons why we are going through our business transformation today. This is a new communication channel that forces us to rethink the way we communicate with our customers. With social media, we have a direct line of contact with our customers. It’s also a great tool to communicate with our fans and get instant feedback from them. We can also give new information much faster than before. For years we communicated in traditional ways and with social media, I think, it’s very personal, because it’s almost like a one-on-one conversation, which also makes the customer feels special. It’s also a great tool to reach younger audiences.

DAMAN: The company reaching its 150th anniversary is a strong testimony to its legacy. Moving forward what do you see as the main challenges that IWC will face?
Stanislas Rambaud:
IWC is all about innovation. So, the main challenge is to keep innovating. How do you keep innovating when almost everything that could be imagined and manufactured has already been done? That’s the reason why we are opening our new manufacture in Merishausen, which basically combines the latest state-of-the-art engineering technologies with the very skilled watchmakers of IWC. This will be a great tool to innovate in the future and to continue developing our in-house calibres.

Next is to be 100-percent customer centric in everything we do and in order for IWC to set the benchmark in customer service and customer experience. It’s important for us that no matter where the customer is buying, the experience is the same. And this is also what we work closely on with our partners to really enhance the experience that we offer to the customers of the brand.

IWC Tribute To Pallweber