When it was first introduced in 1994, this IWC Romana Perpetual Calendar 2050 was the slimmest ever perpetual calendar at only 3.1mm in height. It marks an intriguing part of watchmaking history, both in the history of the battle for the thinnest watch, as well as with regards to the brand’s incredible recovery during the Quartz Crisis.
Spearheaded by Günter Blümlein, whose aim was to prove that a small company, such as IWC was back then, could capably challenge the big players, introducing new ideas and generally disrupting the industry, IWC went from strength to strength.
Blümlein achieved success relatively early on in his management tenure, with the 1985 introduction of the Da Vinci, the still-remarkable perpetual calendar chronograph wristwatch that was 'future proofed' to show the correct date for a remarkable 500 years.
The Da Vinci’s creator was the legendary Kurt Klaus, who recalled the development of the watch and his fondness for Blümlein in a video interview for Revolution magazine: 'It was my idea to produce a perpetual calendar watch and, at the time, we were producing the Porsche design chronograph with a Valjoux movement. He said “Set the calendar on this, and then we'll have the most complicated watch there is”.'
Not only was the watch exceptional, it was also accessibly priced and therefore of interest to more people – which was all part of Blümlein's strategy to bring IWC to the fore.