IWC Da Vinci 2017: The Ultimate In Masculine Watches Finds A Female Side With Automatic 36 + Automatic Moon Phase 36
If you pay attention to watch world happenings, you may know that in recent history IWC has professed itself a decidedly masculine brand and even proudly advertised that fact.
You may also know that the Da Vinci has been around since 1969, becoming one of IWC’s most important model families in 1985 when the Reference 3750 perpetual calendar was introduced at Baselworld. Its claim to fame was both that it had a four-digit digital year indication and that it needed no watchmaker adjustment until the year 2499 (unlike other conventional perpetual calendars, which need to be reset at the next secular year, 2100).
This perpetual calendar mechanism was famously created by legendary watchmaker Kurt Klaus, who was set on making his version of the (at that time) exquisitely rare and majestic calendar form as easy for the wearer to use as possible.
Klaus’s module, comprising just 81 components, displayed date, weekday, month, moon phase, and the above-mentioned year. All of these displays could be set and adjusted by the crown – in stark contrast to the prevalent individual recessed pushers that were conventionally used up to then. And the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar displays could be adjusted simultaneously.
In 2007, the collection’s round case designed by Hano Burtscher was updated to a (for some) controversial tonneau-shaped case designed by Guy Bove (now Chopard’s head watch designer). This less than successful line was, however, not the first shaped case in the Da Vinci history: this honor belongs to a sculptural six-sided case outfitted with a Beta 21 quartz movement in a prototype that was introduced at Baselworld 1969.
Now in 2017, IWC not only goes back to the original round (though updated) Da Vinci case, the brand also puts the emphasis squarely on women.
Ladies watches at IWC
Despite what could be mistaken for a misogynistic attitude that is in fact irony, ladies’ watches do have some history at IWC. In fact, the brand has had timepieces made just for the feminine wrist in the collection as far back as the 1870s.
The Da Vinci Lady Chronograph Reference 3735 was launched in 1988, and it contained an interesting chronograph movement: the Jaeger-LeCoultre Caliber 630, a compact mecaquartz movement with quartz base and mechanical chronograph as well as moon phase and date.
IWC says that model went on to become one of the most successful watches for women in the history of the Schaffhausen-based brand.
The brand’s CEO Georges Kern, who will move up in the Richemont structure as of April 2017, hopes that this new version of the Da Vinci will become the next female success for the brand, making no secret out of the fact that he is trying to curry favor with a segment of the population the brand has long has not taken as seriously as it might have done.
One way to a female watch consumer’s heart according to Kern is to retain the masculine aura of the brand, which means that the names of the new “ladies’” models do not contain the word “lady” or “ladies.” The new collection is referred to as “mid-sized” or “36,” a number referencing the case size in millimeters.
To achieve this, creative director Christian Knoop made the decision to base the updated round case as well as Arabic numerals and hands on those of the 1980s’ Da Vinci models. Additionally, using a new thought process, Knoop was careful to choose a large variety of designers from diverse backgrounds for his team.
Dedicated to beauty and aesthetics
While the 2007 Da Vinci launch was more about technology, ten years later the latest variation on the Italian genius’ namesake is “dedicated to beauty and aesthetics” according to Kern.
And thus a new logo was developed to accompany the launch: the “flower of life.” The logo comprises a floral symbol with 19 overlapping circles of identical radius thought to have been in use for more than 6,000 years in various cultures. Leonard da Vinci drew this symbol in his Codex Atlanticus.
The flower of life logo is engraved on the solid case back. While I would normally complain about a mechanical watch without a transparent case back (I like to look at my movements), I understand that these calibers aren’t mechanically “special” in any way, so the engraved logo is perhaps the better idea here.
The mid-sized Da Vinci helps to balance IWC’s portfolio while simultaneously attempting to woo the female consumer. These are bigger ladies’ watches that not only fit the brand image, but also fit the modern woman’s ideals and can additionally be worn by men should they desire.
Also, IWC put emphasis on comfort with the addition of flexible lugs on the new Da Vinci 36 mm cases and beautiful Santoni straps in a variety of colors with a new three-wing folding clasp.
One thing is certain: IWC put a lot of effort and thought into these new watches. I’m eager to hear what other women think.
For more information, please visitwww.iwc.com/en/collection/davinci.
Quick Facts IWC Da Vinci Automatic 36
Case: 36 x 10 mm, red gold or stainless steel with or without diamonds
Movement: automatic Caliber 35111 (base Sellita SW300-1)
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; date
Price: $5,500 (steel/strap), $6,500 (steel/bracelet), $13,800 (red gold/strap), $39,300 (red gold, bracelet)
Quick Facts IWC Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36
Case: 36 x 11.5 mm, red gold or stainless steel with or without diamonds
Movement: automatic Caliber 35800 (base Sellita SW300-1)
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; date
Price: $8,600 (steel/strap), $16,400 (red gold/strap)