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20th Anniversary
IWC Schaffhausen - One Year, One Watch

IWC Schaffhausen One Year, One Watch

2008 : Da Vinci Automatic*


In 1983, Harvard economist Theodore Levitt wrote a paper introducing the notion of globalisation. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his article, the world managed to do no better than treat itself to an economic crisis on an unprecedented scale. In fact, the crisis had begun in 2007, worsened, and reached its nadir in September, as epitomised by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. This was followed by a whole series of shockwaves affecting savings, businesses, and households the world over.

On November 4, the US presidential election was held, delivering a result that also had a global impact: Barack Obama’s accession to the White House. The profile of the 44th POTUS, an African-American born in Hawaii in the middle of the Pacific Ocean to an American mother and a Kenyan-born father, was indeed a global one. His famous ‘Yes We Can’ slogan, with its strong, upbeat message, soon went viral worldwide. In sport, the Euro 2008 was co-organised by Austria and Switzerland – only the second time in history that two countries had joined forces to host the soccer contest. A few weeks after the end of the tournament, a ‘global hostage’, Franco-Columbian Ingrid Betancourt, was at last set free after six years in captivity.

One Year, One Watch

Da Vinci Automatic © IWC

Meanwhile, Slumdog Millionaire, a British film telling the story of a young Indian man from Mumbai, won four Oscars – including best film and best director. Michael Crichton, a global author who sold 200 million books, passed away. If his name doesn’t ring a bell, perhaps Jurassic Park will. All in all, 2008 wasn’t an easy time, so the emblematic watch for the year had to be global and connote with crisis. It comes from an immigrant brand bearing the only English name in watchmaking: International Watch Company. The 2008 watch is a new edition of the IWC’s first watch to feature a quartz movement – the Da Vinci.

Why IWC?

What could be more fitting to illustrate a global year than a Swiss brand created by Florentine Jones, an American from Boston? All the more so in that in June 2008, after a 20-year dearth, the wonderful Boston Celtics won the NBA Finals.

But back to IWC. In 2008, the brand celebrated its 140th anniversary by reviving six watches that had stood out in its history, including a 1936 aviator watch, the 1939 Portugieser, the 1955 Ingenieur, the 1967 Aquatimer, and the 1980s Portofino. I don’t remember ever seeing a brand resurrect so many timepieces in one go to celebrate an anniversary!

One Year, One Watch

Da Vinci Automatic © IWC

The sixth on the list was a Da Vinci that drew inspiration from IWC’s first quartz watch, fitted at that time with the legendary Beta 21 caliber, intended to help Swiss brands cope with the quartz crisis and a ‘global’ enemy arriving from the east: Seiko.

The IWC da vinci 2008 – “why so serious?”

That line’s a tribute to Oscar-winning Heath Ledger, the Joker, and the box-office-topping The Dark Knight. But more seriously, why is this IWC Da Vinci my favourite reissue? Its unusual, very Seventies shape really makes it stand out from the crowd. Its 41mm tonneau case is superbly chunky. The dial, complete with oversized hour markers and the rather special strap clasp get me humming Gainsbourg’s 69, année érotique! What else? After all, the Da Vinci is decidedly sexy, and the watch it draws inspiration from came out in 1969. The piece is powered by a mechanical movement, and comes in either steel or platinum. The Da Vinci 2008 is a wonderful tribute to a watch that had been rather overlooked for far too long – born to cope with a crisis, and maturing at the time when the world was experiencing its first oil crisis. Oh, the power of globalisation…

The Take from The Devil’s Advocate

Mephistopheles is global by nature and simply loves crises, so he adores this IWC. The only criticism to be made concerns the movement. The IWC caliber is superb, but mechanical, whereas the first Da Vinci was quartz. IWC could have pulled off an even bigger coup by fitting this watch with a quartz calibre, and making it available in yellow gold – just like its predecessor. Of course, times have changed, but who cares? It would have looked really cool!

*On the occasion of GMT Magazine and WorldTempus' 20th anniversary, we have embarked on the ambitious project of summarising the last 20 years in watchmaking in The Millennium Watch Book, a big, beautifully laid out coffee table book. This article is an extract. The Millennium Watch Book is available on www.the-watch-book.com, in French and English.

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The brand

With a clear emphasis on technology and development, IWC Schaffhausen has been manufacturing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. Its philosophy, based on a passion for watchmaking, aims to maintain a spirit of indefatigable initiative and impeccable craftsmanship.

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