IWC’s New York City boutique is an espresso bar and a high-tech watch atelier

By Allen Farmelo 23 May, 2024
the external facade of IWC's New York City boutique

IWC’s New York City boutique emphasises the future

I’ll confess up front that IWC‘s former Manhattan boutique on Madison Avenue—a grand two-story, wood-panelled space filled with old-world maritime paraphernalia and other accoutrements of yesteryear—was my favourite of NYC’s horological hangs. The message that the previous boutique sent was of IWC’s storied past and traditional watchmaking prowess. Perhaps this was the message any weathered watch brand would have broadcast 10 or 20 years ago, but times are changing.

IWC’s new boutique at the corner of 60th and Madison Ave. is mostly white, with light wood flooring, and textured grey walls, all lit with the prerequisite pin-spots. The space features a hospital-clean watchmaking atelier with full visibility from the street, and high-tech equipment sitting right at the window. The message here is no longer about old-world watchmaking, but of the high-tech sterile factories of Switzerland where everyone wears white lab coats and—inside my American imagination, anyways—speaks in thick Swiss-German accents. In a way, this message rendered through interior design choices is refreshingly transparent.

inside IWC's New York City boutique
High-tech modern vibes dominate the IWC’s New York City Boutique. Photo by Allen Farmelo

The enormous bar sits in a wide-open space, and it appears to me like a modern kitchen. Where you may have sipped scotch privately in a leather club-chair at the old IWC boutique, at this new bar you will be seen, not only by other guests but also by any passer-by who happens to glance inside. While most every watch boutique in Manhattan—Grand Seiko, Blancpain, Vacheron Constantin, and Panerai for example—tucks its bar into a VIP-ready basement or second floor, IWC’s bar confronts you as you walk through the front doors.

The shift in messaging is palpable: IWC is inclusive, high-tech, chic, and youthful. IWC’s American Brand President, Stanislas Rambaud, says that, “This new concept truly represents the DNA of IWC, which reflects modernity while putting craftsmanship and engineering at the centre of everything we do. We cannot wait to welcome our customers, watch enthusiasts, and the watch curious to talk and learn about our watches and long standing heritage.” I’m not sure I would have previously described IWC’s DNA as reflecting modernity, but IWC has been changing things up incrementally these past few years—perhaps more than other brands, come to think of it.

a glimpse through a window of the interior of IWC's New York City boutique
Watchmaking equipment is seen from the sidewalk of IWC’s New York City boutique. Photo by Allen Farmelo

All of this high-tech chic is reflected in the bevy of colourful ceramic pilots’ watches in the street-facing display case. It’s not that IWC isn’t also pushing their more traditional models—which was, in fact, the focus of the 2024 novelties released last month at Watches & Wonders—but even these lovely high complications come across as tech-forward in IWC’s new space. I may long for those woody old-world hangs, but IWC cares not as it marches into the 21st century courting digital natives and Tik-Tok dwellers.

the espresso bar in IWC's New York City boutique
IWC serves its own blend of coffee for guests at its bar. Photo by Allen Farmelo

You can visit IWC’s Manhattan boutique at 645 Madison Avenue in upper Manhattan.


This story was first published on Robb Report USA