The last major facelift to the IWC DaVinci took place in 2007 with the introduction of the new in-house calibre 89. Then in 2009, the IWC Da Vinci Digital Perpetual Calendar Date-Month ref. 3761 was presented as a major innovation for the brand; a year later in 2010, the IWC Da Vinci Chronograph Ceramic followed. While the new IWC Da Vinci Collection will be officially unveiled at the SIHH 2017 —from where we will be reporting live—, for now we were given access to three new timepieces including a stunning IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.
With a rich history in the production of ladies' watches that dates back as far as 1880, IWC introduced the Pallweber watch with a digital display for the first time in 1886 —a predecessor to the A. Lange & Söhne Zeitwerk. Key dates in the rich history of IWC and their ladies watches include the release of the calibre 93 —only 9 mm wide— in 1931; the first automatic IWC watch for ladies in 1959 with the release of calibre 44 when Albert Pellaton succeeded in miniaturizing calibres; the release of the avant-garde Sankt Moritz in 1972 with its faceted case and integrated bracelet and then in 1980, the release of the Porsche Design Ocean 500 Diver's watch.
With the new Da Vinci collection, IWC Schaffhausen has returned to the round case that was so successfully established by the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar in 1985 and saying goodbye to the tonneau-shaped case. Furthermore the round case is linked to Da Vinci's fascination with the round shape. All new watches will feature cylindrical crowns and pushers, strap attachments with moveable lugs without looking or feeling dated, lancet-shaped hands, Arabic numerals and repetition of round design details on dial and alligator straps by Santoni.
The three new watches that were unveiled so far are the following:
IWC Da Vinci Automatic 36 ref. IW458312
Conceptualized as a unisex model with a 36 mm stainless steel case and a gorgeous blue sunburst dial with Arabic numerals and date aperture at 6 o'clock this new watch sports the new butterfly clasp —the clasp has three fold-out wings so the wearer can put on and take off the watch without fully opening the strap or bracelet. Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Flower of Life' engraving on the case back —this geometrical figure features several regularly overlapping circles and was the object of intensive study and numerous drawings by Leonardo da Vinci. Sticker Price CHF5,900 Swiss Francs —approximately $6,000 USD.
IWC Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 ref. IW459308
Fitted with a 36 mm 18K red gold case and designed for ladies, the watch features a silvered dial with Arabic numerals and moon phase indicator at 12 o'clock. This watch does not feature the butterfly clasp but a pin buckle in 18K red gold. The watch also features Leonardo Da Vinci's 'Flower of Life' engraving on the case back. Sticker Price CHF14,000 Swiss Francs —approximately $14,400 USD.
Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph ref. IW392101
Fitted with a 43 mm case in 18K red gold, this is the first watch from IWC to ever combine a mechanical chronograph with a perpetual moon phase display on a chrono subdial at 12 o'clock. Inspired by the perpetual calendar created in 1985 by Kurt Klaus —IWC's master watchmaker and inventor. While creating the 89630 calibre, IWC’s present-day master watchmakers constantly referred back to the old design blueprints that were their source of inspiration. But there was a problem, as the moon phase in the IWC-manufactured 52610 calibre normally used for the perpetual calendar is located at “12 o’clock”. If the chronograph’s hour and minute counters were to be placed there, the hands would go straight through the center of the moon phase disc.
The 89360 chronograph calibre, on the other hand, had no room for a moon phase. As a result, the engineers designed the 89630 calibre, combining the dual counters of the chronograph with the moon phase mechanism and displaying them on a single subdial. The moon phase is displayed by a disc, partially gold-plated and partially dark blue, which rotates to show the shadow of the earth and the waxing or waning moon below an aperture in the dial. For the chronograph, the designers likewise made no concessions. The hour and minute counters are combined in a monocounter totalizer at 12 o’clock, which enables stopped times to be read off as if they were the time of day. This is a significantly more elegant form of aggregate timing than two separate counters. The blue central chronograph hand shows stopped times to an accuracy of one-quarter of a second and is equipped with a flyback mechanism.
This new 51-jewel in-house calibre 89360 with a modular construction beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph —4 Hz— to provide a power reserve of 68 hours, features a red gold oscillating weight and blued screws throughout. The perpetual calendar works with the utmost precision: in 577.5 years, the display will diverge by just one day from the moon’s actual course. The perpetual calendar displays the date, month and day of the week on three subdials of the same color at 3, 6 and 9 o'clock, respectively. A small window in the bottom left-hand section of the dial reveals the four-digit year display.
Mechanically programmed, the calendar takes into account the different length of the months and even the leap years. Nevertheless, every 100 years (2100, 2200, etc.) a leap day normally due is omitted, which means that a watchmaker will have to advance the calendar manually on March 1st of 2100. In 2300, another intervention will be necessary when the current century slide with the figures 20, 21 and 22 will need to be replaced with a new one for the years 2300 to 2599. An operation that many generations down the road will get to see if the watch is cared for and passed down as an heirloom.
With its 43 mm case diameter and case height of 15.5 mm, the design of the new IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is impressive yet carefully balanced. The crown and the two pushers are cylindrical and no longer as round as those of the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar of 1985. Combined with the large lugs of the moving horns, they create an impression of overall harmony. Despite the many displays, the dial remains clear and uncluttered because the designers chose dark blue as the color for the chronograph moon phase totalizer at 12 o'clock. This firmly distinguishes it from the dial and three subdials. The watch features a dark brown Santoni strap with 18K red gold folding clasp. Sticker Price CHF 45,000 —approximately $46,000 USD.
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