The old-new Da Vinci collection from IWC made its return at SIHH 2017, ditching the not very successful angular case from some ten years ago in favor of a classical, round design. As safe-play as that may sound, the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph has, sort of unexpectedly, stepped up to be one of my favorites from this year’s new releases and here’s why that is.
I’ll go out on a limb and say this: IWC perpetual calendars – especially the Portugieser variants, of course – have for a long time been among those genuinely complicated and expensive watches that I could see people… well, actually wear. Not just in fancy airport lounges or events, but also in perfectly everyday settings, out and about – though likely more so in big cities of world’s rich countries than elsewhere. While that is a statistically unsubstantiated claim, I’ll stick to it because to see a watch of such complexity on actual people’s wrists out in the actual world is not only fascinating but also, in a way, inspires one to see said watch in a slightly different light.
That noted, my gripe with IWC has for some time now been that they appeared not overly rushed with their efforts to successfully create a new chapter for their impressive, Kurt Klaus-developed perpetual calendar. Now, though, that appears to have finally changed with the old-new IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph.
“When in doubt, go round” may just be the mantra at IWC, but, as we’ll see, not without reason. Seemingly in tune with the recently re-styled Ingenieur, which has also dropped its more agressive and angular lines for a circular, more target-group-friendly look, the Da Vinci returns to framing its many indications with a perfectly round bezel. Boring it isn’t, though, as it offers many fine and some unexpected details, so let’s work our way through all of these.
On the wrist, and especially when seen in the metal, the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in red gold is, without doubt, one of the most striking watches of SIHH 2017. As thoroughly disappointing as I personally found the dials on last year’s cheap-n-cheerful IWC Pilot, the “face” of this Da Vinci is the exact opposite in every single way. It is serious, purposeful, balanced, and its quality of execution matches its price point – qualities that didn’t come to mind when looking at those Pilots.
The manufacture caliber 89630 in the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is the first IWC to combine the Kurt Klaus moon phase indication system and the double chronograph counters in one sub-dial – talk about a niche, but impressive feat… The moon phase here is accurate not to the measly one day in 122 years as most moon phases, but to one day in 577.5 years.
The soft look of the applied gold indices contrast rather beautifully against the sharp, angular, pointy hands – a subtle but impressive detail. IWC’s some thirty-plus years of experience in designing similarly feature-packed dials shows in how the silver-plated dial lacks any outstanding patterns or texture, serving as a soft-glowing backdrop that allows all other nicely separated elements to stand out, improving legibility and easing on aesthetic overload.
The year window above 7 o’clock is clearly more for bragging rights than for anything else – if it were to make watchmakers’ lives easier to set the perpetual functions of the movement it could still be hidden by the dial itself. But IWC even goes so far as to say that they already “supply the century slide bearing the figures 22, 23, and 24 for the years 2200 to 2499 – you know, just in case manufacturing technologies in 2247 wouldn’t allow for the making of this small piece.