IWC Da Vinci Chronograph Review ¶
The International Watch Company in Schaffhausen, Switzerland has established itself as one of the leading men’s watch producers. They make no bones about it – their advertising is directed at men and men alone, and their ads always carry the bold tagline “Engineered for Men”. IWC is known for bold design and no-compromise engineering combined with traditional watchmaking; it was one of the first companies to produce a highly antimagnetic design (and still the record holder for most magnetic resistance in a wristwatch), it produced one of the simplest and most popular perpetual calendar mechanisms in history, and it was one of the leading producers of pilot’s watches from the 1930s to the present. In more recent years, the Da Vinci series has become one of their signature dress watches, as a modern square foil to the more traditional round Portuguese models.
IWC has a long history of interesting designs, and the Da Vinci has existed for decades, but not as we know it today. The first Da Vinci was a Beta 21 quartz design introduced in 1969, shortly before the collapse of the Swiss industry in the face of inexpensive Asian watches. The second-generation Da Vinci began in the 1980s as a sporty round watch that introduced Kurt Klaus’ now-legendary perpetual calendar mechanism, a supremely complicated function that was simplified for easier production and service, which has become the most produced mechanical perpetual calendar in watchmaking history (it is still available in nearly all the IWC model ranges). The Da Vincis that we have here are from the most recent iteration of the series, introduced in 2007.
These Da Vincis feature one of the most complex and finely constructed cases of any watch on the marker. It really is a marvel of precision engineering. Look at the sides of the cases for a good example of the multi-piece construction and fine finishing. The case is a rectangular design that echoes the original Da Vinci quartz from 1969, but in a much larger size and with much more detail. Everything is well integrated into the design; the crown is small but easy to manipulate and the pyramid-shaped pushers work well and match the case perfectly without protruding too much. Everything looks hefty and hewn from solid while still retaining very delicate surface finishing. The size of these watches is deceptive – measuring in at 43 by 51mm, it’s not small by any means, but the lugs are short and curved so it fits even a small wrist perfectly. It’s large but not oversized, perfect for a modern dressy timepiece. The design is capped with a gently curved sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment, while the caseback features an exhibition window to show off the in-house chronograph calibre.
The 89360 calibre is a recent design from IWC that replaces their previous Valjoux based chronograph movements. Made in house, it features a flyback chronograph mechanism, date display, automatic winding with signature Pellaton winding system, and a 68-hour power reserve. This is a serious movement for the money; IWCs are not inexpensive, but they do offer a lot of bang for buck. You would easily spend the same money to get a watch with a flyback ETA Valjoux calibre, something that wouldn’t offer the manufacture cachet that the IWC does.
The 89360 offers something unique that distinguishes it from lesser chronographs. Rather than having three subdials (seconds, minutes, hours) it only has two – one for the running seconds, and another that measures elapsed minutes and hours together. When running it looks like a second time zone in a subdial, with a small hour and minute hand. It makes reading the elapsed time much more natural and offers an extra level of subtle complication that isn’t immediately apparent. The dials themselves are beautifully detailed and finely finished, with applied hour markers and recessed subdials. On the stainless steel it’s a classic tuxedo dial with a black-grained finish set off with silver subdials and a silver outer seconds scale. A touch of red can be found on the quarter numerals in the subdials and the seconds scale. On the gold you get a grained silver finish overall with cream silver subdials for a subtle contrast.
Both the stainless steel and 18K gold version come on alligator straps that will be instantly familiar to Big Pilot fans. The signature single-deployant clasp from the Big Pilot is used, and the exotic leather is thick and hard-wearing but still comfortable. The large width of the straps at the lugs make the watch appear smaller and very well proportioned, similar to what Bell & Ross does with the Instrument. On the stainless steel the strap is glossy black, while on the gold version it is a rich chestnut brown.
The Da Vinci is a spectacular watch. After wearing them on my wrist for a while I really became fond of the design. They are distinct and bold while remaining perfectly elegant, a real man’s dress-watch. And the finishing and quality is very high for a watch in this price range. It’s clear with watches like the Da Vinci that IWC makes watches for men, and finely engineered pieces for discerning watch lovers, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. Both our Da Vincis are in new condition with the original box and papers. The stainless steel (ref IW376413) was $14000, now available 9950$, while the 18K red-gold version (ref IW376411) was $25000, now 17500$. If you are interested in either watch please give me a call at 514 845 8878 or visit our contact page.