The SIHH is just now coming to a close, and by now we all know the big introductions for most of the exhibiting brands (or maison, if you will) and of course at IWC this is the year of the Da Vinci. The Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in red gold got some early exposure in December, but it has a sibling in steel as well, and we’ve had a chance to take a look at it, go hands-on, and see how it feels on the wrist.
By the numbers and in terms of functionality, it is of course exactly the same as the red gold model – 14.5mm thick and 43mm in diameter, with articulated lugs, and the self-winding IWC caliber 89630, with a 68-hour power reserve, three bar water resistance, and a Santoni leather strap with a stainless steel folding clasp. The price is markedly lower for the steel model than the gold model; $29,900, vs. $40,200 for the gold version. The aesthetics are slightly more sober and utilitarian as well, although as with the gold model I think there is a nice combination of design cues from the complicated Da Vincis of the 1980s and more contemporary updates for this year.
The slate grey colored dial also gives the watch a more sober vibe than the gold model, and if you thought the whole thing in gold was a little too florid for its own good, the steel version has a subtle but definite instrument feel that sets itself nicely against the ornately shaped case and lugs.
The design, nonetheless and unsurprisingly, is pretty polarizing; the 1980s-era Da Vincis were very niche in this respect – much more so than IWC’s pure instrument watches in the Pilot’s and Aquatimer collections, for instance. This, however, has been part of IWC’s history for some time – all the way back to the early pocket watch era, there have always been more and less dressed-up IWC watches, though perhaps in the 1950s and 1960s things were at their most utilitarian. The single biggest gripe so far seems to be about the thickness, which at 14.5mm is considerable; however once on the wrist, that’s mitigated considerably by the articulated lugs, which makes this a very comfortable watch to wear despite the raw numbers.
The movement in this particular example was working, but unfinished so we’ve omitted images of the caseback; more representative finishing images will be coming soon. Meanwhile though, the level of quality in the dial furniture really impresses; the handling of the moonphase display, quality of the hands and applied numerals, and so on, are all terrific (as they should be in a nearly $30,000 watch, but it happens so much less often than it should that you really notice it when it does happen).
It wears big, but not uncomfortably, and though the diameter is as generous as the thickness, IWC’s done a good job making use of the real estate. And lest we forget, the whole “pocket watch for the wrist” thing has been going on at IWC at least since the Portuguese Jubilee Moonphase (aka The Most Beautiful IWC Wristwatch You Probably Forgot About). That said, there’s no doubt it’s a beefy watch; still, if the aesthetics appeal I’d suggest trying it on before assuming the thickness and diameter are deal-breakers.
Visit IWC, and check out the rest of the 2017 Da Vinci collection, at iwc.com.