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Interview with IWC’s Hall of Fame, Hannes Pantli

Hannes Pantli, Board Member and Spokesman of the Management Board of IWC Schaffhausen, has been with the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer for more than four decades. Aside from having the biggest collection of IWC watches than any individual in the world, he experienced the accelerated pace of change over the years and saving the company from bankruptcy in the 70s.

Being with IWC for more than four decades, what do you think is the biggest change in the luxury watch industry?

The biggest change, in my opinion, has been marketing. The basics are still the same as when I started. You need to have a good product, and then you need somebody to buy it. But in between that, things changed completely. With the internet today we do very little print advertising, and social media becomes important. Having a retail boutique up until the 80s was forbidden in Switzerland. So these are some of the biggest changes.

What motivates you to continue dedicating your life to the brand?

I made a joke the other day, I said because I was too lazy to look for another job. I started in banking and used to work as a commodity broker, then through a head-hunter, they offered me a job as a sales manager in Europe for IWC. Then I started to love watches and travelling, and just like that time went by so fast, I can’t believe it myself.

What does IWC hope to achieve with the Pilot’s Watches exhibition and activities?

The Pilot’s Watches is one of the backbones of our company since 1936. And it was decided two months ago that all the flight instructors, the Top Gun of the American Naval Pilots, will wear IWC. So not only the news is very important but until today the mechanical watches are still independent of all the electronic timepieces. So with the activities and events like this, we keep the interest of the brand alive.

I read that some of the earliest IWC watch that you collected remain one of your most emotional memories, why?

I have to say that the emotional part is often on how I found the watches. I have a watch that only two pieces were made in 1884, and one is lost forever.  The other one I had the opportunity to buy but the man had a crazy idea about the price. So I said I’m not interested. Then almost years later someone came and told me he is the real owner and the other man who first offered is a lawyer. So he came to Switzerland, we had lunch and we made the deal. So sometimes emotion is how I got the pieces.

Do you still get excited when new novelties came out?

Yes because especially now with the taste that are changing and we have new materials which are very fantastic. This is very interesting because we were the first one who made a watch using titanium when we work together with Porsche. Back then the watch industry has never heard of titanium, but Porsche has the technology from racing. This is very interesting especially when we find new solutions and new ways of producing, it’s very exciting.