It’s the year of the Da Vinci for IWC Schaffhausen, and of three new introductions unveiled at a preview in New York yesterday, two are ladies’ timepieces, with more ladies’ pieces set to be introduced at the SIHH next month in Geneva. The introductions are a concerted effort by IWC to strengthen the brand’s ladies’ collections, according to IWC creative director Christian Knoop, who says “We are consciously trying to anchor the brand in the minds of women, who account for a significant proportion of watch lovers.” IWC’s iconic Da Vinci line, first introduced in the 1980s, has not been revised since 2007.
The first of the two new ladies’ watches is the Da Vinci Automatic 36 Ref.IW458312, in stainless steel with an intense blue dial that is a nod to a vintage ladies’ IWC. The company has been making ladies’ wristwatches since the 1930s; in fact, its first wristwatches were for ladies, since pocket watches were still the preferred timepieces for men. Although price points are not confirmed yet, part of the goal in this new model (of which there are five references), is to offer “competitive pricing,” says Knoop. The bezel of the steel model, shown above, is set with 54 diamonds totaling just under a carat. There are five references in the collection, including gold pieces with and without diamonds, and various colored straps, including raspberry and bronze. It contains the automatic IWC Caliber 35111, with a 42-hour power reserve.
The second piece is the IWC Da Vinci Automatic 36 Moonphase Ref. IW459308. The moon phase indication is also signature to the Da Vinci line. In 1958, IWC introduced a remarkable ladies’ wristwatch with chronograph and moon phase functions. The time function was powered by a quartz movement – a very new invention at the time – and the moon phase and chronograph functions were powered by a mechanical movement. The new Moon Phase model is 36mm wide, with a rose gold case and a brown alligator strap. It contains the automatic Caliber 35800, with a 42-hour power reserve.
The new Da Vinci models maintain some of the line’s original design codes. The most important of these, especially from the ladies’ perspective, are the moveable lugs that give the watch a snug fit. Moveable lugs are distinctive to the Da Vinci collection, and do not appear on any other lines within the brand. “We spent the most time in development on this aspect,” says Knoop. “Although the concept of moveable lugs has always been signature to the collection, they had to be completely re-engineered because the lugs on the new models were redesigned to be more streamlined – the older lugs were too long. In looking for a solution, we built 8-10 different prototypes, finally deciding on the one that we thought would be most contemporary and ergonomic.”
The cases and crowns of the new models have been refined, without losing the original proportions or the double bezel with its peripheral grooves. And while the originals had indexes on the dial, the new models have applied Arabic numerals. There is also a new butterfly clasp. The round case shape of both new models is important because it is a link to the collection’s muse, Leonardo Da Vinci, the Renaissance inventor, artist and all-round genius. Da Vinci was obsessed with the aesthetic harmony of the perfect circle and the “golden ratio,” a formula for the most pleasing proportions of design. Da Vinci was also interested in the “Flower of Life,” a geometrical figure within a circle, composed of multiple evenly-spaced, overlapping circles arranged to form a flower-like pattern with a sixfold symmetry like a hexagon. It is revered as a symbol of creation and the source of all patterns in the universe. The pattern of the Flower of Life is engraved on the casebacks of the new models.
The new ladies’ Da Vinci watches are ideal daily wear pieces. As Knoop pointed out, “IWC is not a romantic, playful brand. The watches are very clean cut. We are a brand with roots in pocket watches.” At this particular moment, when luxury is struggling, people are shying away from anything too decorative, and this fits the bill perfectly. It also fits the more conservative trend in ladies’ watches at the moment. After a decade of ladies’ collections that have been vigorously designed as independent (from men’s) collections with purely feminine identities (flowers, butterflies, etc.) they are now beginning to look more like scaled-down classic men’s watches – a welcome relief. They also more often contain automatic movements, and are designed with smaller proportions. These new introductions are the perfect ladies watches for the spirit of the times. We will provide pricing and some more images as soon as we have them. iwc.com