Image: Supplied

This magnificent 18-carat red gold piece with its silver plated dial, red gold numerals and obliques is the pinnacle of the new collection, which was actually focused on woman this year. IWC is all about size, yet with the Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph they still manage to pack a list of complications into its 44mm case. Driven by the in-house calibre 89900 movement, this includes a newly developed flying mini tourbillon at 6 o’clock, a chronograph with flyback function and a retrograde date display, which allows you to follow the passage of time. State-of-the-art balance guarantees a frequency of 4Hz and the solid red gold rotor powers the bi-directional winding system to achieve a power reserve of 38 hours. A see-through sapphire glass case back gives you full view of what’s at play.

In the past, the flagship Da Vinci range had always been a bit avant-garde with design codes that were less logic than say its Portofino, Pilot’s or Portugieser. I asked the man responsible for  aesthetics at IWC, creative director Christian Knoop, why the decision to (re)introduce a Da Vinci collection this year.

“The Da Vinci has less of a continuous track record in terms of aesthetics compared to our other lines. It used to be very prestigious, very high end and with lots of innovations. It included our first Swiss quartz watch, our first perpetual calendar and the start of the in-house movement strategy in 2007. So the technical aspect was always important but there was always a link to the zeitgeist of the time and certain aesthetics that were reflected in the design.”

An impressive stable mate for the Tourbillon is the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph, which combines perpetual calendar with perpetual moon phase and a chronograph complication. This technical masterpiece displays the hour and minute counters with the moon phase in a single sub-dial. To achieve this IWC developed the new Calibre 89630 movement. The watch also displays day, date, month and year and takes care of the complexities of leap years. Its flyback function stops seconds, minutes and hours. Available in two versions: stainless steel case with slate-coloured dial and 18ct red gold case, silver-plated dial and brown alligator leather strap.

Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph
Image: Supplied

Both are great value for money in this category and were estimated to cost in the region of R200 000 at launch.

The tonneau (barrel) shape has featured among others on the Da Vinci timeline but Knoop and his team came to the conclusion that “a modern interpretation of the round shape would be most in keeping with IWC’s overall portfolio”. They took inspiration from the solid horns that were a feature of the Da Vinci models in the 1980s. “We thought long and hard about the shape of the case. For example, we took our cue from the twin-frame bezel with its peripheral groove, but made it slightly narrower and a little less pronounced. We also adopted the large Arabic numerals from the round Da Vinci together with the slim, lancet-shaped hands.”

IWC are known for ladies watches that are slightly bigger than the competition and the new collection also includes a unisex Automatic 40mm with minimalistic silver-plated dial with red coated hands. A date window at 6 o’clock complements the harmonious arrangement.

The Da Vinci Automatic 36 and the Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 are tailored specifically for women and are available in red gold or stainless steel, with or without diamonds on the bezel and with coloured alligator leather straps by Italian premium shoemaker Santoni or bracelet (on the Automatic 36 only). “Thanks to the moving horns, the lugs do not protrude and the strap is held comfortably close to slim wrists. Combined with the new three-wing butterfly clasp, they ensure increased wearing comfort,” Knoop adds.

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