by Natasha Wolff | April 10, 2014 12:03 pm
On the surface, the luxury watch business and the film industry don’t seem to have a whole lot in common. Dig a bit deeper, though, the two might have more similarities than you’d expect.
“Luxury watches are not just sold through functions,” says Georges Kern, the CEO of Swiss luxury watch brand IWC Schaffhausen. “Function is an important element of your sale, but fundamentally a watch is an emotional product. There’s a story you’re telling about the product, and that’s exactly what Hollywood is also doing: telling stories.”
It’s no surprise, then, that Kern forged a partnership—now in its second year—with the Tribeca Film Festival, which kicks off April 17. The annual movie marathon, headed by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal, seemed like a natural fit to Kern not only because of its glittering movie premieres, star-studded panels and smart programming but also because of the work the non-profit Tribeca Film Institute does with education and social action. IWC is so dedicated, in fact, that in addition to acting as the official “Festival-Time” partner of the Tribeca Film Festival, it has also created a one-of-a-kind rose gold version of the Pilot’s Watch Spitfire Chronograph Edition “Tribeca Film Festival 2014” to benefit the institute. Additionally, a limited-edition batch of the same watch made in stainless steel will be sold at select boutiques to celebrate the collaboration.
It’s precisely the kind of partnership Kern says is best for IWC. “We do this type of work around the world, for which we not only sponsor a event, but try to contribute our involvement. It’s not only involvement from a marketing standpoint, but also a much more credible and meaningful involvement with foundations and projects. We try to give something more than just payment.”
Though the payment certainly doesn’t hurt; on April 9, that specially created watch was auctioned off for $$55,000, and all of the proceeds went to supporting the Tribeca Film Institute. It’s the closest Kern says he’ll get to a career in the movies.
“I have been in the wrong business for many years,” he says with a laugh. “What I’m saying is that film is, of course, a passion of mine and its link to the watch industry makes perfect sense. We try to be courteous in our involvement and to give something back to this industry; we try to find intelligent ways of getting involved.”
Still, thanks to IWC’s involvement with Tribeca, Kern has managed to have at least one movie-star moment. “My favorite Tribeca moment was when I first met Robert De Niro,” he says. “It was a unique meeting because while it was in private, I of course also recognized him from the movies, so I’d sometimes have little flashbacks and remember his roles in films.”
And considering the way the world of luxury watches and film parallel one another, it’s likely Kern will have plenty of additional opportunities to be in the spotlight.
“We believe that the luxury industry is getting closer to the entertainment industry,” he says, “and while you cannot know for sure when someone buys a watch if they’re also interested in art, theater or movies, it’s more likely than not considering that today, entertainment and luxury are more intertwined than ever.”
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