Watches

Why You Should Invest in an IWC Pilot’s Watch

IWC Schaffhausen’s Pilot’s Watches are already legendary, but in case you needed more convincing, Stanislas Rambaud, managing director of IWC Southeast Asia, gave us his take.
IMAGE IWC Schaffhausen
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True to the jet-setting nature of his brand, IWC managing director for Southeast Asia Stanislas Rambaud has been whizzing around nonstop since touching down in Manila. On the day of this interview, he’d just flown in from the brand’s HQ in Singapore before stopping by its Manila branches for store visits, then heading off to a rehearsal for the launch event that evening. Now, he finds a moment to sit down with Esquire for afternoon tea just before the party.

The frenetic pace suits him. Before moving to Singapore, Rambaud was based in Dubai, handling the role of sales manager in the Middle East. “In Asia, people are quite educated on watches,” he observes. “They know what they’re buying, they do their research. When you go to a region like the Middle East, they don’t deep dive as much into the industry—they look for more bling-bling, big watches with gold and stones, so it’s very different. In Asia, I would say, it’s quite similar to what we can see in Europe, very classic.”

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Stanislas Rambaud, IWC managing director for Southeast Asia 

The Frenchman has been with IWC for more than a decade, and today, he is wearing a Portugieser. “I love the perpetual calendar, and I’m always wearing blue so it goes very well with all my blue suits.”

Of the Pilot’s Watches, though, the Big Pilot is his favorite—“it’s so iconic and reflects the engineering skills and unique design of IWC.” Of course, it’s also immediately recognizable thanks to the oversized crown, which has a practical purpose: “It was designed to help pilots adjust the time even when they were wearing gloves while flying,” he explains. “It’s very distinctive and has a very nice movement. A pure pilot’s instrument.”

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IWC Big Pilot's Watch

Photo by IWC Schaffhausen.

Here, he shares more about why IWC’s Pilot’s Watches are sought-after the world over.

IWC has a history.

IWC was among the pioneers of producing watches specifically for aviation purposes, releasing a “special watch for pilots,” developed by pilots, in 1936. It was designed to stand up to all kinds of conditions, with a shatterproof crystal, an anti-magnetic escapement, and the ability to survive extreme temperatures.

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By the ’40s, IWC was supplying service watches to the British Royal Air Force and the German Luftwaffe. The Mark 11, released in 1949, was designed for the RAF and became the definitive template for every other pilot’s watch that followed. “All the pilots were wearing it,” says Rambaud. “It was manufactured for the Royal Navy, the Australian Navy. It was an amazing watch in terms of design, and it’s still inspiring our current collection.”

The Swiss brand innovates.

“Innovation has been part of our DNA for a long time,” Rambaud continues. In 1994, they launched the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Ceramic, introducing the high-tech, virtually indestructible ceramic material, zirconium oxide. That spirit of innovation carries on with the release of the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium at the 2019 Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie. This time around, ceramic is made over into Ceratanium: Like titanium, it is robust and light, but like ceramic, it’s tough and scratch-resistant.

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IWC Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium

Photo by IWC Schaffhausen.

“Innovation in materials has been one of the core expertise of IWC for the last 40 years. We started with titanium in the ’70s; we were the first brand to use titanium. We were one of the first brands to use alloyed gold, which is compressed gold, basically, much more resistant,” he says. This was the same material used in the case of the Big Pilot Constant-Force Tourbillon presented at SIHH, which, Rambaud informs us, was sold out within weeks. In other words, if you like what you see, get it before it’s gone.

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Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince

Photo by IWC Schaffhausen.

IWC tells stories.

Speaking of Top Gun—with the release of the much-anticipated sequel to the classic Tom Cruise film just around the corner, we couldn’t resist asking Rambaud if IWC would be in any way involved, considering the Top Gun line spawned its own collection of Pilot’s Watches in 2012. “I cannot comment on that at the moment,” is all he would say with a deadpan look in his eye, but he does admit that one of his favorite things about IWC is its spirit of collaboration.

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In fact, among the watches being highlighted on Rambaud’s visit is the Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight.” With its stainless steel case and army green strap, it was released to commemorate the historic flight around the world of the restored 1940s-era Silver Spitfire, which IWC is avidly supporting. (The plane took off last August and was, in fact, somewhere in Asia at the time of this interview.)

IWC Pilot's Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition 'The Longest Flight'

Photo by IWC Schaffhausen.
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“It was the perfect match—what better storytelling can you find than two guys who are willing to fully refurbish and renovate an original Spitfire plane and go on an adventure to cross the world?” he says, referring to British pilots Matt Jones and Steve Boultbee Brooks, who will be traveling 43,000 kilometers and visiting more than 30 countries over a four-month period.

With support from IWC, a restored Silver Spitfire is making its journey around the world right now.

Photo by IWC Schaffhausen.
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He adds, “We have been supporting them over the last two years with renovating this plane, and we designed a special watch for them which the pilots are wearing during their trip. It was the perfect combination of storytelling and engineering, which is very important to IWC.”

Spitfire pilot Matt Jones

Photo by IWC Schaffhausen.
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Spitfire pilot Steve Brooks

Photo by IWC Schaffhausen.

IWC is at Greenbelt 5 and Bonifacio High Street Central and Lucerne in Shangri-La Plaza Mall and Okada Manila.

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