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Special wayBridging the way to a new millennium: The IWC Da Vinci Tourbillon

In just a few short months we will witness an event experienced by only a handful of generations: the start of a new millennium. While most people occupy themselves with speculation about the exciting innovations that lie ahead in the next one thousand years, the watchmakers at the tradition-steeped International Watch Co. in Schaffhausen have decided to celebrate the event in their own special way. With the Da Vinci Tourbillon, a mechanical chronograph which can only be described in superlatives, they have set up a fitting memento to the mechanical millennium and established an ambitious bridge into the future.

The fact that a chronograph as heavily symbolic as this one should bear the name of Leonardo Da Vinci is no coincidence. IWC is not alone in its belief that the universal genius of the Italian Renaissance, with his visionary ideas and inventions, has probably affected the past millennium more profoundly than any other single human being. Back in 1985, IWC designer Hano Burtscher discovered sketches made by Leonardo in 1499 for the circular fortifications at the harbour of Piombino and found his inspiration for the first Da Vinci chronograph. The result was a watch that stands out on anyone’s wrist: reliable, built, it seems, to last for an eternity, but with a complex, almost filigree mechanical movement that continues to set standards even today. The Da Vinci’s perpetual calendar, in particular, remains a source of endless fascination. It will go on showing the correct date, day after day, including the complete year in four digits, until the end of the year 2499 – in other words, until the onethousandth anniversary of Leonardo’s inspired sketches. It is no exaggeration to say that Leonardo himself would have been impressed by this masterpiece from Schaffhausen, not that our descendants in the third millennium will continue to admire the achievements of the watchmakers in Schaffhausen.

What is perhaps more impressive, however, is that such a sophisticated mechanical watch could have been improved upon. At the heart of the Da Vinci Tourbillon special edition, which is limited to just 250 watches, is the intricate device from which the watch takes its name and which was part of the watch developed to celebrate the company’s 125th anniversary, “Il Destriero Scafusia”. The tourbillon was developed to counterbalance the one-sided effects of gravity on the precision of topquality mechanical watches, and remains one of the most exacting challenges to the watchmaker’s skills even today. The way in which IWC took on and surmounted this particular challenge continues to fascinate watch lovers all over the world. The minute tourbillon alone consists of almost 100 parts and yet weighs just 0.3 gm!

To provide the owner with an unimpeded view of this micromechanical masterpiece at work, the Da Vinci Tourbillon – unlike the standard Da Vinci and the Da Vinci splitseconds chronograph – is fitted with a sapphire glass back. Other differences include the hand-wound IWC 76061 calibre movement and the tiny word “Tourbillon” in the date display circle. As IWC is only too keenly aware, watch lovers and collectors have different tastes. To cater for these, the Da Vinci Tourbillon is available in yellow gold or platinum in limited editions of 200 and 50 pieces respectively.