In the luxury world, collaborations come and go. Some make sense and some are incomprehensible, while others just deploy the partner logo and job done. But when luxury watchmaker IWC and high-end men’s sporty casual wear brand Orlebar Brown get together, there’s great synergy.
Marking the start of their partnership, alongside Orlebar Brown’s new nine-piece resort wear capsule collection, the Swiss luxury manufacture has introduced the Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph Edition ‘Orlebar Brown’. Adding to the elegant Portugieser collection of nautical chronographs, the new piece features a marine blue dial, well-proportioned stainless-steel case, water-resistant to 6 bar. The IWC-manufactured calibre with flyback function displays the measured hours and minutes together on a subdial at 12 o’clock, with a power reserve of 68 hours. A technical triumph, its good looks make it a suave – and functional – timepiece whether on board a boat, on the beach or relaxing on the harbour side.
Christian Knoop, IWC’s creative director, describes exactly what attracted the two brands: ‘We both represent timeless style and are both able to give it an edge.’ Adam Brown, Orlebar Brown founder, concurs: ‘We often get approached for collaborations, but we have to feel we share values, that there’s something in both DNAs that work together.’ This affiliation certainly works for both parties: nothing’s contrived, instead there’s an easy, complementary sharing of principles like quality, trust, integrity, creating new worlds for each brand that are consistent and coherent.
In what is arguably a first for the high-end watchmaking and luxury clothing markets, it’s a natural fit. ‘The Portugieser is close to what our customers’ lives are about, with its contemporary yachting and sailing, and adventure experiences,’ Knoop says, and this is reflected in everything Orlebar Brown is about. The menswear brand reinvented sporty, elegant leisurewear, proving with its tailored approach that men can look good in stylish high quality casual wear that’s both comfortable and functional. ‘We asked, what is the sort of environment in which this watch would be worn, and designed the clothing range to match,’ Brown explains. ‘In our usual style, we kept it very simple, not at all fussy.’ Highlights of the neat collection include a white towelling blazer with blue piping and a cotton/silk knitted polo shirt, featuring a minimal colour palette based around navy.
The two teams collaborated intensively on the timepiece, looking at materials, discussing design cues and discreet detailing – like the buckle inspired by Orlebar Brown’s signature side fastener on its swim shorts. Brown says that what he really likes about the partnership is that it makes customers perceive the brands in a slightly different way: ‘It’s like IWC is coming on holiday with us.’