The SIHH is just now coming to a close, and by now we all know the big introductions for most of the exhibiting brands (or maison, if you will) and of course at IWC this is the year of the IWC Da Vinci Replica. The Perpetual Calendar Chronograph in red gold got some early exposure in December, but it has a sibling in steel as well, and we’ve had a chance to take a look at it, go hands-on, and see how it feels on the wrist.
By the numbers and in terms of functionality, it is of course exactly the same as the red gold model – 14.5mm thick and 43mm in diameter, with articulated lugs, and the self-winding IWC caliber 89630, with a 68-hour power reserve, three bar water resistance, and a Santoni leather strap with a stainless steel folding clasp. The price is markedly lower for the steel model than the gold model; $29,900, vs. $40,200 for the gold version. The aesthetics are slightly more sober and utilitarian as well, although as with the gold model I think there is a nice combination of design cues from the complicated Da Vincis of the 1980s and more contemporary updates for this year.
The IWC Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Replica slate grey colored dial also gives the replica watch a more sober vibe than the gold model, and if you thought the whole thing in gold was a little too florid for its own good, the steel version has a subtle but definite instrument feel that sets itself nicely against the ornately shaped case and lugs.
The design, nonetheless and unsurprisingly, is pretty polarizing; the 1980s-era Da Vincis were very niche in this respect – much more so than IWC’s pure instrument replica watches in the Pilot’s and Aquatimer collections, for instance. This, however, has been part of IWC’s history for some time – all the way back to the early pocket replica watch era, there have always been more and less dressed-up IWC replica watches, though perhaps in the 1950s and 1960s things were at their most utilitarian. The single biggest gripe so far seems to be about the thickness, which at 14.5mm is considerable; however once on the wrist, that’s mitigated considerably by the articulated lugs, which makes this a very comfortable replica watch to wear despite the raw numbers.