IWC Da Vinci
Few things command as much respect in the world of horology as a pedigree defined by longevity and renowned skill. The IWC Da Vinci, produced by one of the most well-known Swiss watchmakers in the world, fits that mold perfectly. However, the Da Vinci of today has had a long journey from its initial humble origins back in 1969, where it was not a mechanically driven watch at all. Instead, it was among the first quartz movement watches ever created. Named after the famed Renaissance man in honor of the beauty and elegance of his design aesthetics, the first Da Vinci carried all the hallmarks of an early 70s quartz design. Its boxy hexagonal face and razor-thin hands were well-complemented by the stark gold case. Initially using the well-known "Beta 21" movement developed in tandem with other Swiss manufacturers, it would, in fact, be nearly 20 years before the iconic Da Vinci of today took shape.
A legend is born
The first major revision to the Da Vinci took place in 1985 when the line was redesigned from the ground up and abandoned the original quartz movement. In fact, some even consider 1985 to be the true birth year for these watches. At that year's Basel Watch Fair, the IWC unveiled the first true entry in the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar line, known as reference 3750.
Two innovations were immediately apparent: the 4-digit date window and the day calendar, so finely engineered by Kurt Klaus it was good for 500 years. The calendar was adjustable from the crown of the watch, another innovation that soon spread to many other designs. The following year, IWC further refined the Da Vinci and cemented its status as an ultra-high-end timepiece by crafting the case from zirconium oxide for true scratch resistance.
The 90s brought further refinements and additions to the Da Vinci as IWC experimented with designs that added additional timekeeping elements. The 10th-anniversary model released in 1995 featured a whopping ten hands moving simultaneously on the face, including dual second hands, the calendar, and a highly precise moon phase indicator. These design hallmarks would define the line well into the new millennium. While IWC iterated on the design and made changes to band styles and case colors, the fundamentals remained the same.
A diverse product line
Not until the mid-2000s did IWC choose to take a gamble, introducing the tonneau shape in 2007 to the Da Vinci. These omitted some of the perpetual calendar features in favor of smaller, more compact watch faces that still delivered the quality experience many had come to expect. The calendar came back two years later, but the design itself remained similar until IWC took a deep dive on the concept in 2016. The tonneau design was left in the past, and the classic round face made a return, this time with moon phase and calendar indicators engineered to be more accurate than ever before.
Today, the Da Vinci Automatic is the most affordable watch in the line, coming in at a price point of about $5,400. The most inexpensive version of the Da Vinci with the moon phase feature clocks in at a heftier price tag of $8,500. For those who want the truest expression of luxury and craftsmanship possible from the IWC Da Vinci - the perpetual chronograph that made the line so famous to start - be prepared to face a premium price in the tens of thousands of dollars. For those who place a high value on the pedigree of IWC watches, their elegant complications, and the heirloom quality of every piece, the Da Vinci shows it can continue to impress for many years to come.