Watch of the Week: IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN X Orlebar Brown Yacht Club Chronograph

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Watch of the Week: IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN X Orlebar Brown Yacht Club Chronograph

Words by Mr Chris Hall

10 August 2020

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN x Orlebar Brown Yacht Club Chronograph

The first fruit of a partnership between IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN and Orlebar Brown: in other words, a watch perfectly suited to life on the waves. Don’t set sail without it.

The combined history of seafaring and watchmaking is a rich one. It was English watchmaking genius Mr John Harrison whose marine chronometer clocks cracked the problem of accurate navigation at sea, back in the 1700s, and chronometer wristwatches remain a byword for precision timekeeping. In the 20th century, dozens of watchmakers have catered to recreational and competitive sailors with “regatta” chronographs and America’s Cup sponsorships. IWC’s approach – as we detailed in our previous focus on the recently redesigned Yacht Club Chronograph – has tacked towards the genteel elegance of sailing life, a link underscored by the brand’s new partnership with Italian yacht builder Solaris.

Now, IWC has teamed up with Orlebar Brown to give you something to wear on your 55-foot cruiser, with a special-edition watch at the centre of a carefully curated capsule collection. The history of watch brands collaborating in the world of menswear is nowhere near as rich as you might expect; the two have tended to regard each other with polite respect, rather than leap into bed together. Hyper-collaborator Hublot has done interesting things with the likes of Italia Independent and Berluti, and as we’ve noted elsewhere, the time is now for taking a bit more interest in your watch strap, as the obvious terrain for coordinating outfit and watch. But by and large, this kind of thing is underrepresented, and needless to say we at MR PORTER are all for it. If you ask us, this has brought a welcome strain of sartorial snappiness to the watchmaker.

It is, as you might expect, the strap of this new watch that most immediately marks the Orlebar Brown edition Yacht Club Chronograph out from the rest of IWC’s line-up. A marine blue (what else?) rubber strap with a textile inlay, it is fastened with a buckle that perfectly echoes the design of the adjustment fastenings on Orlebar Brown’s swim shorts – the original shorts design that Orlebar Brown founder Mr Adam Brown came up with when he launched his brand, spurred into action by the frustration he and his friends felt when they were turned away from an upmarket Indian hotel for wearing swimwear.

To interpret the short fastener for the watch strap, instead of a two-part pin buckle, the underside of the metal buckle has a protruding pin that fastens into the strap as it threads through, giving the impression of a seamless clasp. To match the strap, the watch takes the blue dial from the mainstream Yacht Club range, but IWC has tweaked the six o’clock subdial into a contrasting silver, and turned the central chronograph seconds hand red. Small changes, but they add up to a more powerful look.

In actual fact, this is the only YCC reference from the new collection that’s available on a rubber strap (for now, at least). That makes it a fraction less expensive than the regular chronograph, which is equipped with a steel bracelet. Now, this isn’t a limited edition, but it stands to reason IWC won’t be making them for ever, so in my book that makes it something of an intriguing prospect. Less money for something more interesting? We’re on board with that.

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN x Orlebar Brown Yacht Club Chronograph ref. IW390704

Materials: Stainless steel and rubber-textile mix

Diameter: 44.6mm

Height: 14.3mm

Water-resistance: 60m

Power reserve: 68 hours

Price: £11,100

The Ones To Watch

There are plenty of drainpipe-skinny legs, too, along with crystal-embellished leathers, logo tees and a range of seriously desirable accessories, including next summer’s must-have sunglasses shape, the Bug. And we’re thrilled to announce that certain items are exclusively available at MR PORTER, including one of our personal highlights, a leather varsity jacket embellished with a motif by Upstate New York artist Mr Scott Daniel Ellison – a part of the collection created in collaboration with 14 of the designer’s favourite artists. As ever, Slimane may be a dreamer – but he knows exactly what people want.