This week we review a watch from my personal collection, the IWC 3751 – Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Rattrapante in platinum.
IWC 3751 Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Rattrapante
The watch is the 10th year anniversary re-edition to the original 1985 Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph 3750. IWC 3750 was produced during a major downturn for the Swiss mechanical luxury watch industry; affectionately known today as the Quartz crisis. In the backdrop of economic uncertainty and the impracticality of expensive mechanical watches, consumers were steadily abandoning the mechanical for the electric. For brands like IWC, crisis is an impetus for innovation and design, which is arguably the reason why we saw some of the most iconic timepieces produced during this period.
The Kurt Klaus magic
In response to the quartz crisis, the haute horologerie brands reacted differently. Most chose to compete head-on with the likes of Seiko and Casio, and launched their own quartz watches.
But as an experiment to compete by differentiation, IWC made a push for complications. However, instead of making completely traditional ultra expensive complicated watches, it focused on making accessible, complicated yet beautiful timepieces. This became its vision for the rest of the decade.
Under the leadership of Gunther Blümlein, IWC worked with some of the best watchmakers in the industry to produce innovative complications essentially disrupting the way the industry perceived complications.
Watchmakers like Kurt Klaus, and then junior watchmakers Richard Habring, and the dynamic duo Renaud & Papi would come up with significant patents and movements for the brand. Considering how famed these watchmakers later became, one could say that perhaps the late 80s to 90s was the golden age of IWC.
Klaus envisioned a complicated calendar watch that was easy to produce as it was easy to use. Possibly the last IWC watch to be designed and sketched with pen and paper, pre-CAD era, the perpetual calendar module for the watch was created. It was designed to be adjusted via a single click using the crown, instead of the traditional pin pusher for each date element found in other brands. Klaus’s perpetual calendar module would then be fit on a Valjoux 7750 ebauche.
The Case and Dial
The 3751 is the 10th year anniversary edition commemorating the 3750 launched in 1985. In addition to the perpetual calendar chronograph complication, the 3751 launched in 1995, added a rattrapante designed by Richard Habring. This particular edition is in Platinum and limited to 500 pieces. The watch was designed by Hano Burtscher inspired by Da Vinci’s circular sketches of the harbor fort in Piombino from 1499.
Measuring 39 mm in diameter, the watch is significantly smaller than the modern version at 43mm x 15.5mm. It is however on the thick side with the already thick Valjoux 7750 movement and tall crystal to house the 10 hands.
The dial uses applied indices, mirror polished and tipped with a tritium lume dot. This particular specimen is in excellent condition after a fresh service from the manufacturer. It also features a german dial, with the neo-vintage IWC script.
Heated blue hands are used in contrast to the silver dial. A lapis lazuli moonphase disc is used for its starry night texture.
Understandably, the design of the watch is not for everyone. Some love it and others hate it. In terms of wearability, the watch is unexpectedly comfortable on the wrist. The hinged lugs hug the wrist well, while the sandwich taper design of the caseback and case help ‘reduce’ the case thickness.
Given the industry’s obsession with Rolex and Patek Philippe, excellent pieces like the jubilee 1993 Portuguese IW5441 and the minute repeater 5240 are often neglected. Neo-vintage IWC models represent understated collectibility for the initiated. While they may not be the watches to flip today, they are pieces for those who appreciate watches as a marker of Zeitgeist. For me, its story of innovation and disruptiveness is especially appealing, and the 3751 is a symbol of that. Personally, I love the design, its stopwatch-like quality and art deco influence. But more than that, it houses two patents from Kurt Klaus and Richard Habring. With all that history, technical mastery and rarity, the watch finds a nestling place in my collection.