On the Wrist: The IWC Da Vinci Automatic

IWC made a big splash at SIHH this year with a revamp of the wide-ranging Da Vinci family of timepieces.

By Logan R. Baker

IWC’s Da Vinci collection dates back to 1969, when the Swiss manufacture debuted the first ever Swiss-made quartz watch. Revolutionary at the time for embracing the disruptive tech, the Da Vinci collection soon pivoted into an automatic watch collection that is known for producing some landmark timepieces for the brand over the years.

This year at SIHH, IWC reinvented the line of timepieces once again by debuting a series of watches that return the Da Vinci to its classic vision. Among the complicated moon phases and perpetual calendars, the time-and-date-only Da Vinci immediately caught my eye upon its release in January. Two versions were presented by the Schaffhausen-based manufacture: a slate-gray version on a slinky bracelet and a silver-plated model that comes on a black alligator strap from Santoni. I was fortunate enough to test-drive the version on the supple Santoni strap for a little over a week.

The watch itself is highly legible and thin enough where it feels most comfortable underneath a jacket or blazer. There are some watches out there that break the long-held ideal of a dress watch being worn solely for black-tie occasions. This is not one of those genre-defying timepieces—and it is all the better for it. It’s important to remember that all a dress watch needs is two hands, anything else is superfluous. More than anything, the Da Vinci Automatic does a superb job of adding in a seconds hand and date window without getting overly ambitious in its presentation.

The placement of the date window at 6 o’clock is bound to draw some criticism from date purists but I didn’t find it overly distracting from the watch itself. Inside the watch, the 35111 Caliber won’t turn anyone’s head but it’s a reliable choice for a watch that won’t be worn everyday.

The biggest issue I have with the watch is the strap horns and curved lugs, which jut precariously off my admittedly thin wrist. While they are meant to be oversize to give the strap optimal room to fit any size wrist, it somehow makes the 40 mm dial appear even smaller when worn.

Overall, this is a classic men’s dress watch that excels at what it’s supposed to be. More than any other watch in this year’s Da Vinci line, it gives us an excellent idea of how IWC perceives the collection moving forward. I expect the Da Vinci line to be home to a wide presentation of classic complications that are targeted more toward black-tie occasions, while the Portugieser line will continue its excellent development of sportier models. The brand’s approach this year was focused on going back-to-basics and reinventing a line that was last updated in 2009 and they did just that.