In the 1990s, when my interest for mechanical watches sparked, one of the most complicated watches I’d ever seen was the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar. I was fascinated by the fact that a mechanical timepiece could be ‘programmed’ to have a calendar that won’t need any corrections until a certain year. The Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar was introduced in 1985 and now, IWC decided it was time for a new and improved version. Let’s have a look.
IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Those old round IWC Da Vinci models (reference 3750) were clearly the inspiration for this new IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph reference IW392101 and IW392103. What can I say? I never cared for the in-between Da Vinci collection with its tonneau-shaped cases. Not only, that, there was nothing but horror regarding the quality of those pieces. Somehow, all people I’ve – ever – came across with that tonneau-shaped Da Vinci were having issues with either the crystal or the movement.
Time for a change. So IWC came up with this new Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph that nods to the first model that ran from 1985 till 2006. First I was afraid, that they would do a copy of the case and lugs and just make it a tad bit bigger. Well, they made it a tad bit bigger, but IWC also managed to create a modern timepiece without being stuck with a 1980s design. An era that isn’t exactly known for its good taste, unless you like white oversized suits, pastel shirts and white leather loafers.
IWC introduced a number of Da Vinci models, all based on the round classic case. A couple of ladies models, an unisex model – although I expect it to be mainly a women’s choice – and a couple of high-end pieces with complications such as this perpetual calendar chronograph. However, there’s also a regular chronograph (Laureus edition) and a tourbillon with rétrograde chronograph. To be honest, and that is why I selected this one to write about first, I like the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph best. Perhaps because it reminds me so much of the watch that had blew my mind in the 1990s when I just discovered the world of mechanical watches, but also because the new design is really appealing.
The dials of the new watches (silver-plated for the red gold reference and slate-coloured for the stainless steel reference) as as stunning as the case. Beautiful large Arabic numerals, silver or red gold rims around the sub dials and a very nice dark blue toned sub dial at 12 o’clock for the moonphase and hour and minute totalizer. Some people commented that the dial was a bit too busy – but not cluttered – during the introduction in Geneva, but I think it fits the watch very well and despite all the information on there, it is very readable.
Stainless Steel and Red Gold
The IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is available in stainless steel (IW392103) and in red gold (IW392101). Not too long ago, I reviewed the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Perpetual in stainless steel, which I truly love. It is actually one of the nicest watches I’ve ever worn for a review. However, that watch to me is perfect in stainless steel. This IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is much larger with its 43mm case diameter and 15.5mm thickness and yet, I would prefer it in red gold. The steel version is beautiful as well, and yes, the red gold gives this large watch even more presence than it already has. But I think it suits the watch very well, without becoming a piece that is simply too loud. Perhaps the old Da Vinci looked a bit more refined at the time, it was also a bit more dull and pocket watch styled with its typical lugs. The new Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar remains to be an elegant watch though, but I guess it will attract a different audience than its round predecessor did.
Interesting enough this Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph is, despite its dimensions, very comfortable on the wrist. Perhaps due to the lugs that are very comfortable on the wrist. The Santoni strap is very nicely done (I am a huge fan and wearer of their shoes) and the folding clasp also works OK for me on this watch. However, I might prefer a buckle in the end as it keeps the combination a more more flat on the inside of the wrist.
IWC Calibre 89630 Movement
Unlike those very first Da Vinci models, based on a Valjoux 7750 movement, the new Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph relies on an in-house developed movement. Calibre 89630, based on the 89000-chronograph family, is quite different from other perpetual calendar (calibre 52610) movement and the IWC chronograph calibre 89360 had no room for a moon phase at 12 o’clock. As you can see, the moon phases indicator at 12 o’clock is combined with the chronograph hours and minutes indication.
At 9 o’clock you will find the day indicator and at 3 o’clock the day indicator. On the sub dial at 6 o’clock the running seconds and the month indicator. The 4-digit year indicator is located at 7.30.
That brings us to the perpetual calendar. In 577.5 years, the watch needs to be advanced just one day. As what impressed me so much in the 1990s, the mechanical calendar is programmed for literally centuries. Every 100 years, you will have a leap day, so the calendar needs to be advanced manually on March 1st of those years (2100, 2200, etc). In 2300, the watch needs to be send back to IWC as the year indicator rolls need to be replaced with 23, 24 and 25 so it can run flawlessly again till 2599. It makes you wonder how our grand-grand-grand-grand-grand-and so on-children will deal with these things.
The calibre 89630 movement can be admired via the sapphire caseback of the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. Not sure you will find yourself doing this a lot with a dial as stunning as this one, but when you do, you will be treated very well. A nice decorated movement: blued screws, red gold rotor and beautiful polished bridges. A feast for the eyes. This fly-back chronograph movement will give you a power reserve of 68 hours.
IWC’s main focus at the SIHH was on the rebirth of the Da Vinci watches. A beautiful collection of classic looking timepieces, with the IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph as my personal favorite. IWC gave us some ‘estimations’ on the price, which sounded like these could change between now and when they hit the boutiques. The price for the stainless steel watch was estimated at 32.000,- Swiss Francs and the red gold version at 45.000,- Swiss Francs, including sales taxes. For that, you will buy yourself an awesome perpetual calendar with fly-back chronograph in a timeless design.
More information via IWC on-line.