“I became interested in replica watches because I’m such a terrible timekeeper,” admits Rosamund Pike. The British actress and ambassador for IWC glances at the timepiece adorning her wrist, a bracelet version of the brand’s new 36mm Da Vinci automatic with a delicate diamond bezel and round date window. The rose-gold case goes nicely with her pink and black metallic cocktail dress – something of a development for a brand whose slogan not so long ago was “engineered for men”.
I put this to her. “Oh, that’s an invitation to storm the bastion!” she replies. This is the first time in decades that IWC Replica has openly courted the women’s market, although it has long had female ambassadors, including Cate Blanchett. Three years ago it launched the 37mm version of its dress watch range, the Portofino, with a diamond bezel and coloured strap, which it coyly described as “for the smaller wrist” – the campaign pictures featured women wearing dinner suits.
The 36mm Pilot’s Watch Automatic which launched last year, with its deep blue dial and strap, opened the door for the new feminine style of the reborn Da Vinco collection. Inspired by a 1980s perpetual-calendar model, it returns from a tonneau to a round case.
The Da Vinci is also available with a dramatic 12 o’clock moon phase and an engraved “Flower of Life” case-back, as well as the choice of a bracelet or colourful Santoni alligator straps. There is also a 40mm men’s automatic version with a square date window.
While IWC is making incursions into the women’s market, Pike says she’ll happily wear some of the men’s models too. “I like a man’s watch on a woman; it can make your wrist look slimmer. One of my favourites is the Big Pilot – it looks cool on a man and I love the history and the stories behind it, but I admit it’s too big for me to wear. I do wear the Portugieser, which is so elegant but has all the detail of a sporty chronograph.”
She tells me about her first watch, a much-loved Swatch when she was a child. “A proper watch with hands,” she adds. “I never liked digital watches. The magic was in watching the passage of time on this tiny dial.”
Pike – who most recently starred in A United Kingdom, about the 1940s marriage of an Englishwoman to the prince of Botswana – says she prefers a bracelet to a strap. “When you’re all over the world filming – I’ve been in southern Africa and Morocco recently, and it can be extremely hot and humid – a bracelet is just more comfortable, and it turns a woman’s watch into a piece of jewellery.”
She is at ease talking about functions and complications, though makes no claims to a deep technical knowledge. “My grandmother used to make beautiful clothes, so I grew up with a knowledge of fine details,” she says.
“I like complications such as the beautiful Da Vinci moon phase. I hanker after a minute repeater, but I think that will remain a dream.” If Pike is hinting that she would like this to be a future IWC complication for women, she’s far too discreet to say so.