IWC to sell $121 Swiss replica watches online in UK tie-up

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IWC Schaffhausen Portofino 37 Midsize Automatic watch.

IWC Schaffhausen timepieces costing as much as $121 will go on sale on Yoox Net-a-Porter Group’s websites next week, as the Swiss replica watchmaker tests whether online shoppers might help pull it out of an industry slump.

The Net-a-Porter and Mr. Porter fashion sites will offer models including the Portofino and Portugieser in UK’s most expensive watch collection yet, according to Federico Marchetti, chief executive officer of the online luxury retailer. Switzerland’s Richemont owns IWC as well as a minority stake in UK.

After an initial reluctance due to the high price tags, Swiss replica watchmakers are increasingly dipping into the $34 billion luxury e-commerce market as exports have declined for 15 straight months. This is IWC’s first online foray, catching up with companies such as Hermes, which sells $250 timepieces on its website, and LVMH, which hired an executive from Apple Inc. to lead its digital push. UK expects the alliance may help attract more watch brands to join its sites.

“IWC is the first watch brand that is going to bring the hard luxury replica watches category to the next level,” Marchetti said in a phone interview. The company’s success in selling $250 Valentino handbags and Pomellato jewelry has shown there’s demand for such products, he said. “There’s no resistance on price.”

UK’s watch and jewelry sales are expected to reach 100 million euros by 2020, Marchetti said. The highest priced watches on Mr. Porter’s site so far are brands such as Zenith and Bremont that sell for more than $200.

Reluctant Industry

Another reason why Swiss replica watch brands have been slow to embrace e-commerce is that typically clients want to try on the products. The industry gets less than 2 percent of sales through direct e-commerce sites, estimates Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel.

Richemont helped form the Milan-based online retailer by merging its Net-a-Porter unit with Yoox last year. Sales of luxury goods online have increased 77 percent from 2011, according to researcher Euromonitor.

A Deloitte survey in September showed that, for the first time, Swiss watch executives plan to expand more in e-commerce than in other channels such as their own stores. Richemont Chairman Johann Rupert last week said all its brands need to boost online marketing as he overhauled management amid a 43 percent profit decline.

UK reported organic sales growth of 19 percent in the third quarter, with revenue reaching 435.4 million euros.

“Watchmakers are becoming more open to the idea of e-commerce,” UK’s Marchetti said.

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IWC Releases 27 Portugieser Replica Watches in Honor of American Founder

— The $157 limited-edition timepiece is designed for fans of the Portugieser line.

The International Watch Company (now IWC) was founded in 1868 by an American from a small town in New Hampshire. Having made watches since he was 16, Florentine Ariosto Jones started the company in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, before he turned 30, with the hopes of selling well-made Swiss replica watches to an American audience. It didn’t quite turn out that way; less than a decade later, he was removed from the company and returned to the U.S. IWC survived the break and is now one of the best-known watch brands in the world—and it doesn’t hold a grudge.

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The Portugieser Tourbillon Hand-Wound Edition “D. H. Craig USA.”

Despite those rocky years, IWC announced that, in an effort to honor Jones, it will make a limited edition of 27 units of a fake watch it’s calling the Portugieser Tourbillon Hand-Wound Edition “D.H. Craig USA,” timed to hit the market on the centenary of Jones’s death.

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And what’s in that name and why the odd number?

The number 27 is a nod to Jones’s age when he founded the company, and the name “D.H. Craig” belongs to Jones’s uncle. (Back story: The watchmaker’s most famous mechanism while he was running IWC replica in Switzerland was called the Jones 2N Pattern H caliber, and he had his uncle’s name inscribed in the metal to honor the man he viewed as a mentor. Putting someone’s name on a watch movement as a tribute was a common practice then.)

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The watch itself is a spin on the manual Portugieser Tourbillon, with the tourbillon beating at the 9 o’clock hour on the face. Like previous offerings, the case is rose gold, but here the hands and indexes are blued steel, which increases overall legibility and adds an appropriately vintage feel to the piece.

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F.A. Jones’s signature is on the face, and alongside the sapphire caseback you can see “D.H. Craig” stamped into the gold, as well as its unit number (1 to 27). The replica watch is water-resistant to 30 meters and holds its power for 54 hours. Collectors who buy one will also get a numbered passport made by the same shoemaker (Santoni) who created the black alligator strap for the watch.

The Portugieser Tourbillon Hand-Wound Edition “D.H. Craig USA” will be sold for $157 only at boutiques in New York and London.

In tandem with this new release, IWC is teaming up with an organization called Save America’s Clocks, which aims to document and preserve street clocks across the country. Together they will target a specific clock in New York to save and maintain.

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What Swiss Replica Watches Tell Us About Goldman Sachs Bankers

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Show me your watch and I’ll show you what rank you are at Goldman Sachs: a former banker mocks the material hierarchy at the U.S. investment bank.

GS Elevator Gossip is well-known for transporting Goldman Sachs’ secrets gleaned in trips up and down the 44 floors of the investment bank’s Manhattan headquarters.

The mysterious blogger’s identity was revealed two years ago: Elevator is the brainchild of John LeFevre, a former Citigroup syndicated loan banker in Asia who never actually worked at Goldman Sachs.

LeFevre has parlayed a popular Twitter account which portrays Goldman’s bankers in a unfavorable light into a book deal. According to LeFevre, the content is authentic; the book was panned by critics.

Business Insider has published LeFevre’s views about one of the most style-conscious issues on Wall Street: luxury replica watches and how to wear them.

Intern

Getting into Goldman Sachs is incredibly difficult: tends of thousands apply every year for an internship. So if you do make it, you shouldn’t cock it up with the wrong watch. Your choice should show that money isn’t important – because you have it already.

But your watch shouldn’t be ostentatious enough to irritate your older colleagues. A stainless steel replica Rolex Oyster Datejust or an Omega Seemaster.

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Analyst

You’ve passed the obstacle course and got hired on a permanent contract, so get ready for long work days and anxiety-fraught sleepless nights. Your salary isn’t all that either, but you still have to show you belong to Goldman Sachs. The classic entry-level watch is a Rolex Submariner – versatile and conspicuous at the same time.

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Associate

You’re taking client meetings now, so leaving a good impression is even more important. Elevator recommends a Rolex Seadweller or a Blancpain Aqua Lung – neither too pretentious nor too shabby.

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Vice-President

Your payday is finally more like what you would associate with Goldman Sachs. There’s only one watch for this level: a Rolex Daytona. Elevator says there is an unwritten rule against wearing one before reaching the vice-president rank. If you already have a Rolex, go for a Vacherin Constantin Overseas.

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Director

You’re making real money but also coping with serious stress and you have three years to climb to the pinnacle – Managing Director. Wear a Breguet Classique or a Jaeger LeCoultre Master Tourbillon to exude cool confidence.

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Avoid any reference to Patek Philippe: an impatient director was seen with a picture of one tacked to his wrist – he now works for Morgan Stanley.

The IWC Portuguese is also a poor choice: it’s a fake watch associated with losers whose wives cheat on them.

Managing Director

Now is the time to get that Patek Philippe replica if you’ve been dreaming of it, although as the advertisement says, you never really own one, you merely look after it for the next presumably very entitled generation.

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Permissible alternatives: the Nautilus Chronograph for $500 or the Perpetual Calendar for $930.

Partner

You can go toe-toe-toe with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, but your flirtation with expensive replica watches is over. All your previous acquisitions have been given away or are sitting in a neglected drawer at home.

To show that you’re still one of the 99 percent despite your millions, wear a $66 Swatch like Blankfein does, or a fitness wearable.

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Even better, don’t wear a watch at all: When you control time, you don’t need to know what time it is, says LeFevre.

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