3751 IWC Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Rattrapante

Patek may indisputably own the perpetual calendar chronograph, but IWC contested the 5004 Perpetual Calendar Rattrapante in the same year it debuted with this: the ref. 3751 Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Rattrapante. It included the most infamous advertising campaign any watch has ever braved, almost unimaginable today, which began in the early 90s with the 3750. Yes, that’s a real ad in slide 2. But that level of daring wasn’t limited to the advertising, this IWC approached this high complication from an entirely different angle. It paired the genius calendar design of Kurt Klaus with a rattrapante designed by one Richard Habring for a completely different kind of calibre. The 3751 was daring in mechanics, case design, and the advertising surrounding release. Possibly to a fault.

This disrupting was IWC’s attempt to reinvent themselves in the wake of the quartz revolution, which produced what are indisputably their best years. With a lean team under Günter Blümlein and only blind ambition, IWC made cake from flour and water alone. The Da Vinci line had debuted the Kurt Klaus calendar, a perpetual calendar automatic that ticked by one day at a time, where all functions are adjusted via the crown. That architecture is still in use today. But to commemorate 10 years, IWC tasked Habring with adding a rattrapante to the mix. And there is an inventive, independent vibe about his work even here. In 1995, this unbelievably-reworked Valjoux 7750 ébauche with dual complication modules set out to bring high complication to the people. The case design was done by Hano Burtscher, inspired by Da Vinci’s sketches of the harbor fort in Piombino circa 1499. 39mm in platinum with hinged lugs for comfort and a crystal taller than Shaq, it succeeded in daring. In platinum, 500 examples were made, freehand engraved on the caseback.

The 3751 never really took off like IWC intended. Most seeking truly high complication like this wanted a calibre designed ground-up for that purpose on display with commensurate finishing. But it remains today an exceptional demonstration of doing a lot with a little, sheer bravery resulting in ten hands on the dial from just a 7750. They’re in the category of ‘rare but very few people care’, which can be a fun place to have a look. There is a real charm about this neo-vintage era of IWC and the complication it produced alongside those Ingenieurs we love. I still can’t believe that ad ran only back in the 90s. Maybe the Swiss-Germans in Schaffhausen do have a sense of humor after all.

This example is as complete as you could hope for. The case is lightly worn, but with deep hallmarks and only a very light polish in its past if at all. The crystal bears superficial marks from daily wear. Impressively, it comes with its complete ‘briefcase’ box set, with replacement wheels to 2100+ sealed in a glass vial and all papers. It comes from London, with a well-regarded retailer who specializes in neo-vintage.