A New Frontier
ELLE Singapore|September 2021
WATCHMAKING HAS always BEEN ABOUT THE SUPERLATIVES — FROM THE HIGHEST GRADE of MATERIALS to THE MOST ELEGANT of PRESENTATIONS. AMIDST THE GROWING CONCERNS over THE ENVIRONMENTAL COST OF SUCH PURSUITS, IWC HAS EMERGED as A DRIVING FORCE BEHIND A NEW APPROACH to FINE WATCHMAKING
EVIGAN XIAO

Sustainability has taken its place at the forefront of modern watchmaking as an increasing number of manufacturers pursue innovative approaches to their craft, intending to minimise their impact on the environment. It is a timely manoeuvre – amidst the swelling intensity of voices calling for environmental responsibility, the luxury industry has come under increased scrutiny. Luxury is, of course, defined by a singular focus towards realising an idealised concept – doing whatever is necessary to achieve the final result. Admirable as the principle may be, it tends to leave behind a rather expensive bill, one that is not only footed by the customer, but also the environment.

With watchmaking, the typical eco-culprits take the form of metal swarf, used oil and packaging material. And while it may be impossible to eliminate the presence of these waste factors, the watchmakers at IWC have made great strides in minimising their output and reducing their carbon footprint. Most recently, the manufacture introduced their TimberTex — a fully plantbased leather alternative series of watch straps. They also debuted a new line of packaging in 2018, which uses 30 per cent less raw material and 90 per cent less plastic, compared to previous iterations. The brand also makes it a point to publish a biennial sustainability report that’s open to the public, and is even taking steps to limit the environmental cost of its IT infrastructure. From within and without, IWC is leading the charge for sustainable watchmaking, and according to the brand’s chief marketing officer Franziska Gsell, things are only just warming up.

How would you describe IWC as a brand to a complete stranger?

In five defining words: innovation, heritage, emotion, performance and sustainability. IWC creates incredible watches at the forefront of innovative, sustainable engineering performance. Every design is unique and imbued with an unrivalled heritage of 153 years of watchmaking excellence. Masterfully blending evocative storytelling, highly functional engineering and social commitment, IWC is like no other brand in the luxury watch market.

What does it mean to be a luxury watch manufacturer in the modern age?

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