Launched in 1999 and made in a tiny edition of just 20 pieces , the “Da Vinci Tourbillon Four Seasons” timepiece features a highly artistic dial hand-chased by master engraver, Wolfgang Sigwart, paying homage to Leonardo Da Vinci’s unparalleled skills as an artist.
Perhaps the touchstone of truly great genius is the ability to go on inspiring other human beings to outstanding achievements even centuries later. Such a genius, whose work and achievement continue to fascinate us today, was unquestionably Leonardo Da Vinci. It was therefore a particular challenge for the watchmakers at IWC when they set to work in the early 1980s to create a timepiece that would bear the name of the maestro himself. They proved to be more than equal to the task: launched in 1985, the Da Vinci, with its perpetual calendar and moon phase display, is a masterpiece of mechanical watchmaking.
Wolfgang Sigwart, the master engraver, has left his mark on countless watch movements and cases in the form of engraved decorations. But the fact that his talents were restricted to hand-engraving the back of the Da Vinci was clearly a spur to his ambition.
And so, since the mid-1980s, he has devoted countless free hours to a work of art that has enchanted all who have had an opportunity to see it. A dial in relief from depicting four allegorical female figures who represent spring, summer, autumn and winter.
When IWC decided to create a very special edition of its classic timepiece – the Da Vinci Tourbillon – for the new millennium, it was not long before someone had the inspired idea of producing a limited edition featuring Sigwart’s masterpiece of engraving. And so the “Da Vinci Tourbillon Four Seasons” was born. Putting it into practice presented Wolfgang Sigwart with one problem after another. For a start, he had to be certain that his work would not detract from the displays on the dial. And the Da Vinci has no shortage of those.
There are no fewer than nine hands, a moon phase display and a perpetual calendar with a four-digit year display providing the wearer with precise information. Once again, Wolfgang Sigwart lived up to his reputation and found an aesthetic solution to a difficult problem.
The solid gold dial contains not only four female figures but also some wonderful Art Nouveau decoration very much in the vein of Mucha’s “Four Seasons”. The fact that none of the twenty dials, the product of painstaking craftsmanship over a period of many weeks, is identical gives each of the Da Vinci Tourbillon four Seasons the additional cachet of being unique.
The technical and artistic fascination that mark the Four seasons are in themselves an allegory of the life and work of Leonardo Da Vinci. The charm of the dial is echoed by the technical mastery of what we see when we look through the sapphire glass back. In optical and functional terms, the minute tourbillon underscores the consummate artistry of IWC watchmaking.