In the new Da Vinci, IWC CEO Georges Kern has found the missing puzzle piece to his suite of watch collections. Joining the Pilot’s Watches, Portugieser, Aquatimer, Portofino and Ingenieur collections, the Da Vinci started out as a digital product. In 1969, it was the first wristwatch to feature the famous Beta 21 Swiss quartz movement.
But the most important milestone of the collection was the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Ref 3750, which featured a single-crown control perpetual calendar movement made by IWC master watchmaker, Kurt Klaus. It is this exact reference, and not the inaugural model, that Kern has used to modernise the collection, as he explained during this interview.
This new Da Vinci collection took IWC 10 years to make. What went on behind the scenes?
We want to extend our female offer. A couple of years back, we launched the Portofi no Midsize, which has been doing extremely well. We believe that we need to complete the offer with a product like the Da Vinci, which is a more dressed-up product. We launched the midsized Pilot in 2016, so now we have three midsized product groups. We’re going to launch another one soon, fulfilling different segments in the market.
What do you want the new collection to express?
The Da Vinci is more for collectors and watch lovers because of the movements and complications. It’s a very recognisable design, round but with specific lugs. This is why it fits so well in our current collection. It’s a more traditional product for sure and I’m totally convinced it complements what we have today in our offer.
The previous Da Vinci was a tonneau-shaped watch. Why change to a round case?
Round watches comprise 70 per cent of the market. At the size that IWC is today, with our reach, you need to be round because that’s what the market is. The round Da Vinci (Ref 3750), which this new design is based on, has been the most successful.
That model famously introduced ceramics to high watchmaking. Might collectors look forward to ceramic models in the new collection?
We’ll see. You need to start with the classic offer, which is what the market is demanding. In time, we’ll work on limited series and also things we did in the past.
What else could collectors expect?
We have a new perpetual calendar based on the 89000 chronograph. It’s a new module based on the chronograph with all the functions, flyback, etc, so it’s quite a complicated movement. But the principle of simple adjustments is still present. It just has a different base movement than for instance the Portugieser, which is based on the 52000 movement.
Why create a new base movement just for the Da Vinci?
It’s a different engine and collectors will appreciate it. We didn’t want to have exactly the same engine in the Portugieser as in the Da Vinci. It wouldn’t make sense.
Will you use the Da Vinci to showcase IWC’s expertise with perpetual calendars?
IWC is probably the world’s market leader in perpetual calendars. When I look at the number of perpetual calendars that we sell and when I listen to the retailers, we are by far number one. We might not be the leader in other complications, but in perpetual calendars, we are. And I think we should capitalise on this.