Some would say that IWC Schaffhausen opening its first U.S. flagship boutique in New York City is long overdue; after all, the brand, which was established in 1868, has the distinction of being one of the very few Swiss brands to be founded by an American, Florentine Ariosto Jones. This week, IWC cut the ribbon on this long-awaited landmark, located on New York’s fashionable Madison Avenue, in grand fashion, with an exclusive cocktail party attended by celebrity friends of the brand and the launch of a U.S.-only limited edition timepiece. IWC’s many fans are likely to find that the store was worth the wait.
The opening-night affair saw appearances by such notable IWC fans as supermodels Adrianna Lima and Karolina Kurkova; actors Matthew Fox (“Lost”), Channing Tatum (“The Vow”), and Chris Hemsworth (“The Avengers”); and boxing legends Evander Holyfield and Larry Holmes. Also in attendance were several notable people connected to boxing icon Muhammad Ali, the inspiration for the new limited-edition watch that was unveiled at the boutique: Ali’s daughter Miya; Thomas Hauser, author of the Ali biography, “Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times;” and Howard Bingham, Ali’s personal photographer and lifelong friend.
The new boutique, which boasts a shop floor of more than 3,000 square feet, has carved out a unique identity among other high-end watch boutiques in New York because of its multi-themed design. IWC is a brand with a wide range of identities, and the boutique reflects that: each IWC family has its own area that is totally distinct and yet consistent with the others. The Portuguese room, for instance, is defined by its devotion to the theme of nautical exploration; the Pilot’s Watch room, by its aviation theme; the DaVinci room, by its library of art and science tomes; and the Aquatimer room, by an aquarium with scuba diving accessories.
Click below for images from the boutique and the opening-night event:
IWC has emphasized the lifestyle elements of each of its watch families, with accessories for sale in each of the areas: there is an Ingenieur carbon-fiber-frame bike on display and for sale; Aquatimer-branded diving bags, flippers and other accessories; and authentic IWC Top Gun naval aviator jackets. Another highlight is an actual flight simulator in the pilots’ area, which visitors can both try out and — according to one source at the event — purchase. IWC Georges Kern, who attended the opening-night event, refers to the flagship boutique as the brand’s “house of stories.”
The boutique-exclusive timepiece, the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Muhammad Ali, is a 250-piece limited edition based on the unique piece that was auctioned off last month at the Celebrity Fight Night gala in Phoenix, Arizona, whose proceeds benefited the legendary fighter’s charity, the Muhammad Ali Center. Part of the proceeds of the new limited edition (which will have a steel case, rather than the unique piece’s white gold) will also benefit Ali’s charitable causes. Like the unique piece, the watch will be delivered with a copy of the huge, collectible Ali book “GOAT – Greatest of All Time,” which features photographs by Bingham; each copy will be autographed by Ali. For the flagship boutique’s premiere, the second floor features an exhibit of 12 selected black-and-white photos from the book, which will be on display through the end of May 2012.
The cost for the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Muhammad Ali, packaged with the copy of “GOAT,” is $17,900. For more information on both the watch and the book, click here.
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