Just in time to catch last-minute Christmas shoppers, Richemont-owned Swiss watch brand IWC Schaffhausen has opened its first UK boutique on London's New Bond Street, marking a new direction in its retail design concept.
Spread over two floors, the 90 sq m temple of horology was designed by London-based architect Chris Grainger-Herr, who has worked with IWC for over eight years, overseeing two generations of retail concepts, devising over 150 boutiques and 300 shop-in-shops, multiple exhibitions, as well as the IWC museum, its head offices and new manufacturing centre in Schaffhausen.
The architect's concept will see furniture and products presented consistently as it rolls out globally, while also allowing for the spatial environment to be adapted to each store's local context, so that a building's architectural style, unique location or heritage can become an individual feature. The New Bond Street boutique's Art Deco exterior, for example, is echoed within via Deco elements, giving it its own unique look among all other IWC boutiques. Here, the brand's monochrome palette is complemented by dark piano-finished Macassar wood, polished stainless steel, Carrara marble and plush grey carpets.
'We tried to be as faithful as possible to the heritage of the building, while considering our brand DNA and corporate identity,' says Grainger-Herr, adding that they tried to 'show every aspect of the things that men like to do: flying, navigating, travelling, driving, Formula One.'
In addition to watches, shelves are filed with books (tomes on Peter Lindbergh, the Titanic and Monte Carlo among them), coral, a model Vespa, and globes - adding to the experience of a gentlemen's members club on the second floor. A pale grey marble Art Deco fireplace is flanked by a similarly hued sofa and two matching armchairs, a chrome and glass bar, and a bespoke drinks menu, featuring festive mulled wine and Billecart-Salmon champagne. 'The idea was to create a space that lends itself to making people feel welcome and stay for a while to get to know the brand,' explained Grainger-Herr.
An IWC watchmaker is also in residence on the first floor, offering maintenance advice and servicing, while the boutique stocks the widest selection of the brand's watches in the UK, including a special edition Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar in stainless steel, made exclusively for the new London boutique. The Portofino Midsize, IWC's newly launched diamond-set collection, will also be available in its entirety.