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IWC executive’s love affair with mechanical watches in cars

Mercedes-Benz CLS wins over IWC Schaffhausen’s Northeast Asia managing director Goris Verburg with its technical sophistication even though he doesn’t see himself as a car enthusiast

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 December, 2016, 8:48pm

“I drove a Mercedes-Benz CLS in Switzerland before I moved to Hong Kong [in April 2015]. I’ve driven four-wheel drives and family vans, but the CLS is fun. It is positioned quite low and really sticks to the road. Its Sport mode is especially thrilling on the autobahn or in the mountains. Its distance and lane-keeping electronics also make driving very easy and comfortable. I’m not a car fanatic, but I enjoy their technical sophistication.

When I was a teenager, my uncle took me on the autobahn in his early 1970s Lamborghini Espada, a rare four-seater, and I shall never forget the thrill of doing 230km/h for the first time.

My first car was an open-top Citroen 2CV, when I was 18, and I have driven around Europe and the US, but don’t enjoy long distances. I love the curvy roads and beautiful scenery of the Alps, but Hong Kong is difficult for driving.

Here, you have to stay concentrated on winding, narrow and crowded roads, and that isn’t relaxing. Many Hong Kong drivers don’t use the blinkers consistently when changing lanes, which can be dangerous. I rely on a navigation system and Kowloon streets are the most challenging, but the Shek O Road is gorgeous.

My company, IWC, has a strong automotive link. We have designed the clocks for Mercedes-AMG’s cars since 2004, and our partnership is founded on a shared passion for precision engineering, micro-mechanics and design sophistication, as well as our joint commitment to the community. Besides being the official engineering partner of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, we are both founding partners of the Laureus Foundation and its World Sports Awards. Furthermore, Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg have also become our ambassadors since 2013.

In 2014, we collaborated with Lewis and Nico to create two special-edition watches, each limited to 250 pieces – the Ingenieur Chronograph Edition ‘Lewis Hamilton’ and the Ingenieur Chronograph Edition ‘Nico Rosberg’ – besides other previous limited editions with AMG.

Many Hong Kong drivers don’t use the blinkers consistently when changing lanes, which can be dangerous

We are also very active in vintage-car racing. For instance, at the 74th Goodwood Members’ Meeting this year, we unveiled three special editions including the Ingenieur Chronograph Edition ‘74th Members’ Meeting at Goodwood’; the Ingenieur Chronograph Edition ‘Rudolf Caracciola’, which is dedicated to racing driver Rudolf Caracciola, who took three European Drivers’ Championship crowns in the 1930s; and the Ingenieur Chronograph Edition ‘W 125’, whose theme originates from the Mercedes-Benz W125 Silver Arrow.

I enjoy seeing the IWC clock inside a Mercedes-AMG car. What makes a mechanical watch special is its refinement and craftsmanship, including every small detail of the movement, the dial and case. You do not see this level of finishing in serially built car dashboard instruments. It really can’t compare. Mechanical watches in cars are not very handy. You don’t have the natural movement that winds a rotor, so you need to have other mechanisms to wind the clock.

Furthermore, in my Mercedes, the time adjusts automatically to summer and winter time changes, which is very practical. These conveniences you will not get in a mechanical watch. The large dashboard displays in the Mercedes-Benz S Class can be customised nowadays. Maybe one day, you can display the clock in your favourite brand’s design.”