What Happened: Once again, Swiss watch brand IWC is tapping into China’s fervor for winter sports. After announcing Olympic gold-medalist Eileen Gu (Gu Ailing) as its brand ambassador in January this year, the timepiece maker is partnering with Swiss ski brand Faction Skis to co-launch 55 pairs of limited edition, off-white, luminescent luxury skis — the Faction Studio 1 IWC Collab Ltd.
In recent years, IWC has doubled its efforts to promote its timepieces in the Chinese market. In April, it painted the wall of an old bungalow in the center of Shanghai with its logo and a Pantone color card marked with “IWC Lake Tahoe.” In the days following, the painting was finalized and the watch label’s new release was revealed — the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition in a white ceramic “Lake Tahoe” version appeared on the wall. So, how will the latest partnership resonate with local consumers?
The Jing Take: The cross-collaboration is taking IWC’s desirability to new heights. The partnership showcases the excellence of two Swiss brands in their respective fields: The co-created skis boast the same specs used by freestyle skier Eileen Gu and guarantee stability during heavy landings and extreme forces. Purchasers of the limited edition skis will be offered the chance to buy IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition in a white ceramic “Lake Tahoe” version as well.
With the holiday season in full swing, now is the perfect time to promote the tie-up. Following the Beijing Olympics, the popularity of winter sports has skyrocketed in China. Xinhua news reported that as of January 2022, China surpassed its national goal of having 300 million participants in winter sports and is projected to become the largest winter sports market.
What is interesting from a luxury point of view is the “elevated” status that activities like snowboarding and skiing are holding in the country, considering the expenses involved in learning, training and obtaining equipment.
By 2025, the total scale of winter sports and related industries is expected to exceed $158 billion (1 trillion yuan). With over a third of ski consumers between 20-30 years old, alpine collaborations are a new gateway for brands to reach Gen Z shoppers.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.