It was no easy task for the designers at IWC. After the Portofino Midsize 37mm collection in 2015, the first time for about 20 years that IWC had directly approached women’s watches, and a few 36mm pilot’s watches last year, Da Vinci includes two series of 36mm watches designed specifically for women, the Da Vinci Automatic 36, and the Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36.
At the IWC booth during the SIHH watch show in January 2017, everyone was pretty fed up with the question that a lot of visitors were asking, “how long will you go on using ‘Engineered for men’ as a slogan?” The standard answer was that, with exception of the last 20 years of exclusively men’s watches, IWC had always made watches for women. Franziska Gsell, Chief Marketing Officer at IWC, said, “With the new Da Vinci collection, we are consciously trying to anchor the brand in the minds of women, who account for a significant proportion of watch lovers.” Will they succeed? It’s a very straightforward design, and the round case with Arabic numerals is used by many brands such as Tiffany, Montblanc, Hermès and others. As the IWC watches all have non-in-house movements made by Sellita, their strength lies uniquely in their design. The imagery in the promotional material (see video at the end of this post) is strongly related to the sense of mystery linked to Leonardo, as in The Da Vinci Code and even suggestions of Assassin’s Creed.
Subtle design features
Let’s take a look at the Da Vinci Automatic 36. The Da Vinci collection has never had a single definitive case design, unlike, say, the Cartier Tank or Rotonde de Cartier. At its first appearance in 1969, it had a sort of tonneau case (and enclosed the brand’s first use of quartz, the ETA 21 quartz movement).
In 1985, Da Vinci had a round case, and then in 2007 the tonneau case returned. This year, the accent is on the Renaissance quest for perfection, with a round case, a grooved bezel based on the 1985 Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar, and other design details such as a recessed inner circle on the dial, rounded crown, and mobile lugs that optimize comfort on the wrist. There is a circular date window at 6 o’clock, which is given a degree of design meaning by continuity with the recessed circle. All the watches in the Da Vinci Automatic 36 collection have the “Flower of Life” engraving on the back, a geometrical pattern based on intersecting circles that appears in Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. The straps have a new three-wing butterfly clasp.
Wide range of prices
The other significant feature of the Da Vinci 36 Automatic range is price. The entry-level is 5,600 Swiss francs for the IW458312 with stainless steel case and leather strap. It may sound high, but for a brand like IWC it represents a conscious move towards new sectors of the market and a reaction to the problematic market situation of the last couple of years. All five watches have the 35111 calibre, self-winding, with a power reserve of 42 hours. It is the SW300-1 movement made by Sellita, and already used in the Portofino Midsize and Pilot’s 36 mm watches of previous years. It provides the stop-seconds function for precision time-setting.
IWC Da Vinci 36 Automatic IW458312
Stainless steel case, blue sunray dial, blue date display, rhodium-plated hands, appliqué numerals, solid caseback, strap by Santoni in blue alligator leather with orange lining. Price 5,600 Swiss francs, €5,700 including VAT.
IWC Da Vinci 36 Automatic IW458307
Stainless steel case, silver-plated dial, appliqué numerals, solid caseback, stainless steel bracelet and butterfly clasp. Price 6,600 Swiss francs, €6,550 including VAT.
IWC Da Vinci 36 Automatic IW458308
Stainless steel case, bezel set with 54 diamonds, silver-plated dial, appliqué numerals, solid caseback, strap by Santoni in raspberry alligator leather with orange lining, stainless steel butterfly clasp. Price 11,500 Swiss francs, €11,700 including VAT.
IWC Da Vinci 36 Automatic IW458309
Red gold case, silver-plated dial, gold hands and appliqué numerals, solid caseback, strap by Santoni in brown alligator leather with orange lining, gold butterfly clasp. Price 14,000 Swiss francs, €14,200 including VAT.
IWC Da Vinci 36 Automatic IW458310
This is the signature model in the range, with red gold case, silver-plated dial, gold hands and appliqué numerals, solid caseback, and a very attractive red gold bracelet with gold butterfly clasp. Price 42,000 Swiss francs, €42,700 inclusive of VAT.