Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

IWC Creative Director Christian Knoop on the New Amsterdam Boutique, the Performance Chronograph & More

The Dutch capital hosts the largest and most complete IWC boutique to date.

| By Robin Nooy | 10 min read |

We were recently invited to join the festive reopening of the Amsterdam Boutique of IWC Schaffhausen. Nestled in one of the most luxurious high streets in our nation’s capital is a haven where you can fully immerse yourself in the wonderful world of IWC. Step inside, and you can discover the brand’s various collections in a unique open display, have a coffee in the Big Pilot Bar, and even discover the brand’s engineering prowess. But there’s more to creating a fully immersive and tangible IWC experience, as we learn from Creative Director Christian Knoop. While we had the chance to talk to him, we also wanted to learn more about the recently launched IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41, which is geared towards a different kind of pilot.

Christian Knoop, Creative Director for IWC Schaffhausen.

Robin Nooij, MONOCHROME Watches – Christian, we’re here in the newly remodelled IWC Boutique in Amsterdam. What can you tell us about it?

Christian Knoop, Creative Director for IWC Schaffhausen – This new flagship store, set in the P.C. Hooftstraat in Amsterdam (the premiere luxury high street of the city), is a milestone for IWC. Not only is it the latest boutique within the architectural concept we are rolling out worldwide, but it’s also the largest commercial space we will have for the time being. It is a statement and commitment to the Dutch market, which has long been very important to us.

Ad – Scroll to continue with article

The boutique also puts a strong emphasis on the IWC brand, not only presenting it as a modern and contemporary watch brand but also making us different. It really translates IWC’s brand values and our positioning around engineering and design into an architectural space. You see this from the choice of colour, focusing on black and white but furthermore translating what the brand is about into various elements in the interior. The engineering wall, for instance, presents what IWC is when it comes to fine watchmaking, materials, complications, etc.

We also introduced the first open-watch display in the street, allowing people to see and touch our collection and explore the entire product portfolio. The interactive displays bridge the gap between the physical and digital space, where people can see the watch and use the display to check the specifications or strap options.

What sets it apart or makes it unique from other IWC boutiques?

It’s a combination of things. As mentioned, it’s the biggest IWC boutique in the world right now, and it combines all the features of other boutiques in one single flagship store. For instance, some boutiques might not have the strap station or the Big Pilot Bar, but this one has everything. We also have a second floor with a small atelier where watchmakers can perform quick services or repairs, and we have a private room to host watchmaking classes with selected clients.

In the coming months, we will activate this as we’re looking to invite clients and small groups of enthusiasts into this world of IWC. It’s also available for private occasions, so if a group of friends wants to book a watchmaking class for themselves, we can arrange that. The idea is to combine this with the Big Pilot Bar and make the boutique a social space to meet like-minded people. It’s not only meant to serve customers but intended as a hub for the watchloving community. If people want to pop in and grab a coffee, that’s perfectly fine.

This boutique combines all elements proven to be successful in other boutiques. We have the lounge areas, the open-watch displays, the customisation section, and so on. Some might have individual features, but having it all in such a great layout is very unique.

We know from the Rotterdam boutique that people can immerse themselves in the world of IWC. How do you make that world tangible beyond the watches?

We operate both boutiques with our retail partners Schaap & Citroen, sharing a common vision to present and develop the brand for the Dutch market. Having such a strong partner allows us to operate at the top level of service both in Rotterdam and now in the new store in Amsterdam. Presenting IWC to the Dutch people, or even from other parts of the world who happen to be in town, opens more doors to IWC.

For example, we work with a Dutch creative agency on a temporary art installation on the origin of water, which is closely related to F.A. Jones’ vision when he founded IWC in Schaffhausen back in 1868. He started with the unique idea of harnessing hydropower to drive the machines in the watchmaking factory, something we still do nowadays, albeit on a different level. It also explains the link between IWC and the city of Amsterdam, a place born on the water. Schaffhausen is only a few hundred kilometres up the Rhein River, which directly links us to Amsterdam.

But again, it’s also the use of the architectural space, the open and interactive displays, showcasing the engineering side of IWC, the customisation station to mix and match different straps to your watch, the Big Pilot Bar, etc. It is a hub open to people to explore every single aspect of the world of IWC.

As a brand, you’re best known for your pilot’s instruments, but recently, you introduced a watch geared towards a different type of pilot. Can you explain to us how the new Performance Chronograph 41 came about?

The Performance Chronograph is built on one of our most iconic collections, the Pilot’s Watch. This Pilot’s Watch really stands for our heritage in instrument watches. Watches that are robust, very accurate and legible. And now, activating Pilot’s Watches together with our partners Mercedes-AMG and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, we celebrate the racing pilot. We didn’t have a chronograph for performance time measurement on the track, which typically happens with a tachymeter. So, the idea was born to create a Pilot’s Watch with a tachymeter.

This new generation of Performance Chronographs features full ceramic tachymeter scales on the bezel, as well as a quarter-of-a-second layout on the dial, allowing for a perfect and precise reading of the chronograph. We’ve integrated this with the functionality along with a rework of the aesthetics, highlighting the performance aspect. One comes in grade 5 titanium, while the other comes in our proprietary material Ceratanium, which is a black titanium-based alloy. This really supports the performance aspect of this new collection.

IWC Pilot Watch Performance Chronograph 41 AMG

They come with rubber straps or an H-link bracelet in titanium or Ceratanium, which is also new to the Pilot’s collection to show this more contemporary and technical execution of a link bracelet. Both come with our EasX-CHANGE system and our in-house chronograph calibre 69385 with a sapphire caseback to show the technicalities in that area as well. Special attention has been put into the execution of the dial, not only integrating the quarter-second scale but also finding a more technical and performance-oriented dial execution. It has more pronounced totalisers, a combination of matte and high-gloss finishing, and metal appliques with Super-LumiNova (numerals only). It takes the DNA of the Pilot’s Watch in a new direction.

What were the main criteria for this new Performance Chronograph 41?

We wanted to make the Performance Chronograph recognisable as a Pilot’s Watch, but want to present it as a complementary product which really sets it apart from the rest of the collection. This is done through materials, such as the titanium and Ceratanium case and bracelet, but also by looking at every element of the dials and indications. The structure of the dial is redesigned from top to bottom to make sure it has its own identity.

IWC Pilot Watch Performance Chronograph 41 AMG

But of course, being a Pilot’s Watch at heart means it has to be robust, mechanically very precise, reliable, and highly legible. In that sense, it’s a true instrument watch to the best of IWC’s capabilities and in two distinct looks. One in clean titanium, the Mercedes-AMG, and the other in black Ceratanium, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team.

It ties in with the long-lasting partnership with Mercedes-AMG. How significant is that partnership for you?

That partnership is very important to us since we’ve been working with Mercedes-AMG for 20 years and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team for 10 years already. We try to involve both parties in our watchmaking, and they invite us to step into the world of cars and motorsports wherever we can. But it’s not just a commercial partnership; we really try to learn from each other’s engineering philosophies. Both worlds are closely linked together, as there is a genuine connection between timekeeping and motorsports, and by extension, watchmaking and cars.

IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot G63 Armor Gold IW501201 & Ceramic Matrix Composite IW506201

The connection between IWC and Mercedes feels like a very natural match. Working together for such a long time does not only result in a friendly family-like relationship that runs through multiple departments on either end, but it’s also a deep understanding of each other’s core values. So when we get on stage with our partners, there is an authentic affirmation and support for both sides, which resonates with our customers. It’s the longest-existing partnership between a watch brand and a car manufacturer, which says a lot.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition Toto Wolff x Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team IW503607
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Edition “Toto Wolff x Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team”.

In these 20 years of working with Mercedes-AMG we have done 18 special editions together, along with a lot of customer activation for both brands. This involves Mercedes-AMG cars, iconic Mercedes drivers, vintage cars, history, etc. That’s something we’re very proud of.

How was the Mercedes team involved in the development of this Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41?

The beauty of both partnerships and working together for such a long time is that it goes beyond just placing two logos next to each other and collaborating on a purely on a marketing level. With Mercedes-AMG, we have done their dashboard clocks for a long time, designed in Shaffhausen. We also had an IWC edition Mercedes CLS, and we have also derived certain material innovations from the world of motorsports. For instance, the carbon cases we did in the past or the recent ceramic Matrix composite for the Big Pilot G63. We’ve also worked on the digital user interface watches for the more recent Mercedes cars and we’re working on more stuff to come in the next few years.

This is really a partnership that goes beyond just the focus on two logos and partnership events because it’s deeply rooted in the engineering and design DNA of both brands. We’ve worked with both the Mercedes-AMG team and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team to align the aesthetics and colour trim in the Ceratanium edition. It becomes apparent in the balance of the colour scheme of the watch to match the livery of this season’s Formula 1 car. The black and white, paired with the teal green details, is very similar to the car Lewis Hamilton and George Russel got to drive this year. So yes, the connection between IWC, Mercedes-AMG and Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team is very special and connects to a wide range of things in both companies.

For more information, please visit

Leave a Reply