#style /watches & jewellery

​IWC Schaffhausen: When Natural Formulae Meets Watchmaking

Apr 29, 2017

Da Vinci watches on display at IWC’s booth during SIHH

If you think of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper when you look at your watch, it is probably because it’s an IWC Schaffhausen. Some artists and historians, when they first laid eyes on the painting, were struck by something in it that seemed familiar, although they could not immediately explain what it was or why it seemed so. Closer inspection and careful study revealed that the Renaissance master had employed the golden ratio in the arrangement of the painting.

The golden ratio is a special number found by dividing a line into two parts so that the longer part divided by the smaller part is also equal to the whole length divided by the longer part. The golden ratio crops up in nature as it does in geometry, and is often used as a formula for beauty in making artefacts.

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The creative director of Swiss watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, Christian Knoop, says: “Da Vinci was not just an artist, but also an unrelenting inventor, forever combining technical ingenuity with a higher appreciation for art and beauty.” Da Vinci inspires IWC Schaffhausen, Knoop says. “Our watches combine the technical and aesthetic in the same way. Da Vinci explored all kinds of mathematical rules for beauty and aesthetic throughout his life, exploring geometric rules for the proportions of the human body, and something the human eye would perceive as harmonious. This is the story of the Da Vinci line.”

The Da Vinci Moon Phase

At SIHH, IWC Schaffhausen presented its Da Vinci Automatic 36 and Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 models, for ladies, and its Da Vinci Automatic, meant for either. Two of its Da Vinci timepieces contain calibres newly developed and manufactured by IWC Schaffhausen, which integrate complications in a novel way.

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The chief executive of the watchmaker, Georges Kern, says: “With the new Da Vinci collection, IWC Schaffhausen has returned to the round case.” The watchmaker used a round case to house its Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar, which came out in 1985. “It means we are bidding farewell to the tonneau case and reaffirming our commitment to the classic proportions the brand stands for,” Kern says.

In introducing its new models, IWC Schaffhausen has its eye on the ladies. The marketing chief of the watchmaker, Franziska Gsell, says: “With the new Da Vinci collection, we are consciously trying to anchor the brand in the minds of women, who account for a significant proportion of watch-lovers.” Gsell says her company has always made watches for women. “In that sense, we are remaining true to our heritage,” she says.

Da Vinci Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph

The designers of the new models in the Da Vinci line were inspired by the solid horns that were a characteristic of the Da Vinci models of the 1980s. “We thought long and hard about the shape of the case for the new Da Vinci,” says Knoop. “Eventually, we came to the conclusion that a modern interpretation of the round shape established in the 1980s would be most in keeping with IWC’s overall portfolio. For example, we took our cue from the twin-frame bezel with its peripheral groove, but made it slightly narrower and a little less pronounced. We also adopted the large Arabic numerals from the round Da Vinci, together with the slim, lancet-shaped hands.”

Some of the new Da Vinci watches have a new type of butterfly clasp. The clasp has three wings that fold out, so the wearer can put on and take off the watch without undoing fully the strap or bracelet. Two models are fitted with a pin buckle. The Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36 has a clasp made of 18k red gold. The Da Vinci Automatic has a clasp made of stainless steel. The models with haute horlogerie complications – the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph and the Da Vinci Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph – have a folding clasp with two wings.

“With the Da Vinci Automatic 36 and the Da Vinci Automatic Moon Phase 36, we are also re-establishing an old tradition of creating selected models from the Da Vinci line especially for women, and adding diamonds or fashionable straps and bracelets as features,” says Kern. “I am particularly pleased about the launch of the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph and the Da Vinci Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph, because they truly embody our manufacturing expertise.”

The Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph

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Stephen Short