IWC Schaffhausen is perhaps best known to the world for its pilot watches. Since the 1930’s, it has introduced a host of Flieger and Mark watches that have earned the brand a great distinction. Now, IWC unveils the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” watch that pays homage to the 1994 iconic black Flieger that took the world by storm. Here we take a closer look at the things that make this watch so cool.
IWC Pilot Watch History
IWC actually perfected its first aviation timepiece back in 1936, when it answered a request from the United Kingdom for military pilots watches that could withstand temperature changes and magnetic fields. The brand was the first to develop the inner iron case to protect the movement and make the watch antimagnetic. Over the ensuing couple of decades, IWC rolled out new versions. However, interest in pilot’s watches waned and IWC didn’t put a big focus on them for a few decades.
In the 1990’s the brand opted to reinvigorate its pilot watch lines and in 1994 released the now-legendary black ceramic Fliegerchronograph, Reference 3705). That watch didn’t perform as well as the brand had hoped and so just 1,000 pieces were made. It has only been in recent years, with so much information available on the internet and with collector groups growing, that there is a renewed interest in that Ref. 3705 black Flieger and today is highly coveted among collectors.
IWC Tribute to 3705 Pilot Watch
The new tribute watch recalls the original dial with luminous markers, but the timepiece is now made of the brand’s proprietary Ceratanium® instead of zirconium oxide ceramic. Developed by IWC, the material is light weight but incredibly hard and scratch-resistant thanks to multiple steps involved in its manufacture. The case components begin as machined pieces of a special titanium alloy. The parts are then heat treated in a firing process that transforms the material and alters its look and properties to resemble ceramic.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Tribute to 3705 (reference 387905) is being made in a limited edition of just 1,000 pieces. While this number recalls the 1,000 made of the 1994 watch, it is expected that – unlike that watch – this one will fly off the shelves. The black dial offers white luminescent hands and numerals and features a day/date indication at 3:00. The subsidiary dials for the chronograph and the running seconds are harmoniously balanced on the left side of the dial. The watch features a center chronograph seconds hand.
What’s Inside the IWC Tribute to 3705 Watch
While the original watch was powered by a Valjoux 7750 movement, today’s 41mm watch houses the IWC caliber 69380 with column-wheel chronograph that is made in house at the brand’s Schaffhausen manufacture. Thanks to a bi-directional pawl winding system – something IWC is also well-known for – the watch offers 46 hours of power reserve. It is fitted with a black calfskin strap to complete the stealth black look. Naturally, there is a soft-iron inner case to protect against magnetic fields and a screw-in crown. It retails for $11,900 and will be sold exclusively on IWC.com.
(This article by Roberta Naas was originally published on Forbes.com)