IWC’s practice in recent years is to make a refresh of one of its core collections, the centerpiece of its design efforts for each SIHH. Last year was, of course, devoted to the Pilot’s Watches and this year, we’re seeing a very extensive refresh of the Da Vinci Collection. Of course the full reveal will be at the SIHH, 2017 edition, which is still a few weeks off, but IWC is giving us a taste of things to come with three new watches that give us a pretty good sense of just how different the new models will be from the existing models. Before looking at the new pieces, though, let’s take a quick look at the original series of Da Vinci watches, which go all the way back to 1985.
First generation IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph,circa 1990, in a 39mm case. (Image: Sotheby’s)
The first Da Vinci wristwatches were a pretty radical departure from anything that IWC had done before. The barrel shaped lugs and stepped, round case made them extremely dressy, and the level of complexity was also something very new for IWC. The biggest talking point was the perpetual calendar mechanism; IWC’s first, and moreover, the very first perpetual calendar in which every indication could be set by the crown, with the day, date, month, and year as well as the moonphase, all changing in sync with each other, making the Da Vinci the ancestor of all modern synchronized-mechanism perpetual calendars. The Da Vinci became the vehicle for further experiments as well; ceramic-cased models came out in 1986, and versions of the Da Vinci fitted with tourbillons were introduced as well.
Ceramic cased Da Vinci, 1986.
In 2007, the last major refresh of the Da Vinci family took place; the round case, and barrel lugs were updated with a modified tonneau shape. The Da Vinci Kurt Klaus limited edition used IWC caliber 79261.
IWC Perpetual Calendar Chronograph “Kurt Klaus” in platinum, worn by Kurt Klaus. (Movement: caliber 57261.)
For this year, IWC has returned somewhat to the roots of the original Da Vinci. The new collection has a round case, with lugs and a crown shape very much reminiscent of the Da Vinci watches from 1985.
The New IWC Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. IW392101
The IWC Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. IW392101 is in many respects a return to the more formal look and feel of the models from 1985. The articulated cylindrical lugs have been modified for a more contemporary feel, however (though they’re still articulated) and the chronograph pushers and crown have been updated as well.
The most significant modification, however, is in the movement. The original Da Vinci self-winding, perpetual calendar chronographs used a very heavily modified Valjoux 7750 (the Kurt Klaus-designed perpetual calendar plate was used in other IWC watches of the same period; most notably, the long-discontinued Novocento, which combined the calendar plate with either an F. Piguet or JLC ebauche).
The new models, however, use IWC’s own fully in-house, perpetual calendar chronograph movement – caliber 89630. The configuration is very similar to that used by IWC for the Edition Kurt Klaus, and it’s a classic: a high precision moonphase (accurate to one day’s deviation in 577.5 years) and with a four digit display of the year, which can display the year until 2299. At that point, a watchmaker will need to replace the two digit century slide with a new one, for the period 2300-2599. The 89360 flyback chronograph movement, which was the basis for caliber 89630, has co-axial minute and hour totalizers at 12:00, and IWC combined that feature with a moonphase disk at 12:00 (as used in IWC’s in-house automatic perpetual calendar caliber 52610).
There will be a stainless steel version as well, we’re told, which will be officially announced and released at the 2017 SIHH.
As shown, the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Ref. IW392101 in red gold is 43mm x 15.5mm; 3 bar water resistance. Movement, IWC caliber 89630, self winding, with 68 hour power reserve; perpetual calendar with four digit display of the year; chronograph with flyback function and hours/minutes combined in the sub-register at 12:00. Free sprung adjustable mass balance. Availability and price not yet available.
The Da Vinci Automatic 36 And Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36
The Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 is a 36mm watch being positioned by IWC as a ladies’ timepiece. The strap on the model shown is by Santoni, and the gearing for the moon phase is the traditional 59-toothed mechanism, which is accurate to one day in about every two years, seven and a half months.
The back is engraved with the so-called “Flower of Life.” This is a geometric figure consisting of nested circles in an hexagonal configuration, and there’s a connection to Leonardo da Vinci, who made a study of its geometry in the Codex Atlanticus.
There will be three models at launch: red gold, stainless steel with a diamond set bezel, and stainless steel; all dials are silver plated.
The Da Vinci Automatic 36 is the same basic aesthetic but without the moon phase complication.
At launch, there will be four models: 18k gold with diamonds, and three models in stainless steel, including one with a diamond-set bezel.
Prices aren’t yet available, but we’ll update you as soon as we’re able to obtain pricing info from IWC.