As we’ve seen yesterday, the story behind the IWC Da Vinci has been eventful and longer than many thought. If the first edition dates back 1969, it’s really in 1985 that the Da Vinci obtained the recognition we know today, with one iconic version, the Ref. 3750 Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, conceived in the mind of genius Kurt Klaus. For 2017, there’s a new Da Vinci collection, which takes inspiration in that vintage model. And this might be the main reason why we heard many collectors praising one edition in particular, the one we believe to be the cornerstone of the 2017 range, the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in Steel.
When this watch has been introduced, a few weeks before the official launch at the SIHH 2017, IWC was already clear about the inspiration for the new model. No more tonneau-shaped case, no hexagonal inspiration and enough with the design that has been rather disliked by collectors. The 2017 Da Vinci is a back to basic watch: round case, articulated lugs, use of traditional complication and display, still a bit of that baroque / Italian flair that has always been in the DNA of that watch… If you have a good memory, all these elements indeed recall the 1985 edition, and IWC doesn’t hide this. Instead, they even refer to it and to the people behind this iconic collection (Kurt Klaus or Günter Blümlein). The Da Vinci has always been a rather difficult collection, especially compared to other watches such as the Portugeiser or the Pilot’s Watches, and thus, by bringing back on the table some known design codes, IWC could be blamed about a lack of originality but could also show a wish to make the Da Vinci great again (no stupid references here…)
What is it about with the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph In Steel? Why are we today giving this watch the complex role of “cornerstone of the collection”? This could easily be given to the 40mm Automatic version, which shows the same design codes, the same style and that befits both genders (at least, IWC does advertise this watch as a unisex offer) with a much more accessible price. This could well define the concept of cornerstone. In many collections, or at other brands, probably. But not at IWC. The brand does rely on icons, on historical models and on watches that most of collectors and aficionado know. For instance, the pillar of the Pilot range is the 46mm Big Pilot’s Watch, even if it’s super-large, highly masculine and not inexpensive. Same for the Da Vinci. Here, the key watch is one of the very complex and large models. Of course, we’ll set the Tourbillon Chronograph version apart, simply because of its 6-digit price tag. However, as inspired by the 1985 model, the 2017 Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph becomes sort of a flagship, not only because it’s certainly the nicest version and a very coherent watch, but mainly because it is the one that everybody will regard as the faithful descendent of the ref. 3750.
With this heavy burden to carry, the new Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph had some hard work to convince. Yet, it does have plenty of arguments, and if the copy isn’t perfect (it never is…), we must say that this keystone is a strong offer. In terms of style, the Da Vinci is a lot about the design. It’s not the kind of watch that will go unnoticed. It’s a watch with a strong personality and that will require the wearer to assume it. The Da Vinci Perpetual is not consensual, but the Da Vinci has never been anyway. This collection is the most stylized range of the brand, and IWC played on that trend with this new iteration, yet giving it some reassuring elements from the past.
First of all, the Da Vinci goes back to a round case, which means that it’s originality and DNA is mainly driven by the rest of the case, the lugs. All the uniqueness of the watch is here: these large, almost massive articulated lugs with a central insert, which gives the Da Vinci a visual robustness. We’ve chosen here the steel version rather than the gold edition, for the simple reason of the price first, but also because of a more restrained look and the very nice combination with the slate grey dial. That being said, these lugs are less massive when worn than the visual will let you think. Being articulated, they can go down around the wrist, creating first a great comfort but mainly adapting the visual size to most wrists’ sizes. It means that even if measuring 43mm and never feeling “small”, that case adapts and will look different on a small or a large wrist. Yes, the 2017 IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is bold, but not over-present ether on the wrist.
Then there’s the complication itself and the display that comes along. For its pillar watch, IWC chose to reintroduce the Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in a more traditional style. Indeed, this complication was based on the Digital display in the previous, hexagonal version. As a tribute to the 1985 Da Vinci ref. 3750, the display goes back to a traditional 4-subdial with moonphase style, which is indeed much more balanced in this baroque and round context. Yet, what is behind has been modernized, and the Da Vinci relies on the counter at 12 that merges the minutes and the hours of the chronograph (something that was introduced first in 2007 on the Da Vinci). The moon is placed into this sub-dial, which is painted in blue with a starry-sky to remind about the vocation of this counter. The rest is traditional: date at 3, day at 9, month and small second at 6 and finally, complete 4-digit year indication at 7h30. The dial is here presented in a nice slate grey color, changing from a dark anthracite tone to a warm grey depending on the ambient light, with applied Arabic numerals, something that is new to the collection (even if some 2000s version showed painted numerals with the same kind of font).
To power this new IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is the Calibre 89630, meaning based on the 89xxx family of in-house calibres that can be found for instance in the Potugeiser Chronograph Classic. It means a column-wheel, vertical clutch, flyback, automatic chronograph with 68 Hours of power reserve and a modern 4Hz frequency. On top of it is attached the perpetual calendar module, once again, like created by Kurt Klaus, with all adjustments done by the crown. The movement is visible from the caseback and features an open-worked rotor.
With this new combination of a traditional display of the perpetual calendar and the chronograph, linked to the new round case with articulated lugs, the Da Vinci feels much more coherent and in line with what the collection has been for more than 20 years (from 1985 to 2007). Launched within a rather difficult market and being itself a complex collection, its mission won’t be simple and using reference of the most iconic version makes here a lot of sense. Once again, the copy is not perfect and the Da Vinci is a charismatic watch, with a strong personality that some won’t like, yet this 2017 version, and especially this Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph In Steel, will certainly be more applauded than ever before. Price: 32,500 Euro. iwc.com.
Specifications of the 2017 IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Steel
- Case: 43mm diameter x 15.5mm height – stainless steel, polished, articulated lugs – sapphire crystal on both faces – water resistant to 30m
- Movement: Calibre 89630, in-house – Automatic – 4Hz frequency – 51 jewels – 68H power reserve – Flyback chronograph with perpetual calendar (date, day, month, year and moon indications)
- Strap: Santoni alligator leather strap in black on steel folding clasp
- Reference: IW392103