As a collector, I get what he's saying and I even share many of his sentiments, particularly that the general concepts he expressed can be applied to more than a smattering of other makers. I've not really had those thoughts re: IWC, but then IWC isn't a maker that moves me all that much, so I can't say I think about them at all, let alone thinking about them to the extent he has.
As a consumer, I don't know that his dismay is even relevant. Either IWC make something tony20009 the consumer desires or they don't. As a consumer, my interest in IWC, or any other watch company, is purely transactional. I want a watch that meets some set of requirements and I search about until I find it. It's not about passion for watchmaking.
As a business consultant, I'd say that if a company can earn the required profits from catering almost exclusively to collectors, fine. If not, however, failing to morph in accordance with market demand and other exigencies represents the height of corporate ineptitude and/or irresponsibility. No matter how commercially oriented be a company's lineup, the fact is that if it can earn sufficient profits, collectors who crave "whatever" can forget about getting from that maker for the maker will go bankrupt and produce nothing. That default may be a good thing in the long run re: the resale values of watches already held by collectors, but it's no good at all beyond that. It's sort of like one's long dead favorite aunt: the memories are lovely and comforting, but having one's aunt be still around is far better and far more satisfying.
Mr. Mayer wrote:Then something changed. It would be cynical to blame it on the companys sale to Richemont Group, because I believe a company can change hands and still maintain their course. But I can tell you the moment the entire line shifted was with the release of the Ingenieur model.Cynical as it may be, I think the Richemont acquisition a far better marker of IWC's transformation. I struggle to see what exactly changed when the Ingy was introduced in 1958 (?) that could have effected the state of affairs over which Mr. Mayer laments.
The man's entitled to his opinion, but I think his reticence toward cynicism has clouded his thinking. The Richemont acquisition was very much the pivotal moment in IWC's history, much as similar takeovers were critical to other makers to which it happened. If most of those companies could have and wanted to remain independent, they would have done so. Yes, one or two acquisitions were synergistic, but the majority of them were opportunistic "savior" transactions, purely business transactions.
Are there watch companies that are able largely to cater to collectors over consumers? Absolutely, yes. Dufour, Maitres du Temps, Vianny Halter, MB&F, and a great many other FDHH perimeter brands are but a few examples of such makers. They can do that profitably because of the price point at which they can sell their wares and the very small number people the company profits must support. Once a company reaches a certain critical mass, it has to also achieve sales volumes at a level that supports it.
Those makers I cited can do so because at $60K+ per watch, they only need a very few customers to support the one or two people who work there, and who in all likelihood are owners (aided perhaps by one administrative employee) not employees. The luxury of having the nature and extent of choice those small companies have is a luxury a maker like IWC, PP, AP, Rolex, Omega and all the other large makers simply do not have.
Aside from disagreeing with Mr. Mayer about when certain sea change events occurred, and my willingness to view the matter not only as a collector, but also from a business perspective, I share Mr. Mayer's dismay as it applies to various larger (relative to the micro-companies I noted above) companies like IWC. I choose, however, to sate my passion for the "slightly off-beat, the quirky and the individual by looking to those very small makers. Mr. Mayer may need to do the same.
Lastly, Mr. Mayer paraphrased an old saw when he wrote, "Trying to be all things to everyone is a pretty good way to ensure that you wont be something special to anyone." I couldn't agree more, as a collector, consumer or consultant. The thing is I see IWC and other watch companies not as trying to be all things to all people, but rather striving to be a thing that, as a curatorial, story telling and passionate collector, isn't all that inspiring and that doesn't capture my interest all that much. They are trying to be successful, profitable makers of luxury timepieces.
I can only take so much issue with their choice to drive their companies in that direction. We're in an era where any mechanical watch and the craft required to make fine ones are anachronisms. Perhaps Mr. Mayer is onto something? Perhaps all watchmakers should focus on operating the way collectors would like and let economic Darwinism take its effect?
All the best.
Silent as a flower, her face fell in dismay, aware that the ghost of lust ate and left, sensing that there was a different scent of perfume consuming the room, and that she had numbered and counted the he loves me, he loves me not of each petal, where the lifeless dust had settle.
― Anthony Liccione