The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” is the IWC Pilot we were waiting for
If I had to choose an executive who managed to bring IWC to new heights in the past, I'd pick Mr. Günter Blümlein without any doubt. His portrait is in the foreground as you're stepping into the brand's new manufacture, in Schaffhausen. Under his leadership, IWC has rocked the watchmaking industry and pleased watch aficionados with iconic collections like the IWC Fliegerchronograph and the IWC Big Pilot's Watch 5002, a forerunner to the current line up of chronographs conceived with the support of the US Top Gun school, and a great tribute to the never-forgotten TSC, respectively. Back then - it was 1994 - the now-iconic IWC 3705 debuted the first-ever Pilot's Chronograph with a zirconium oxide case.
Like most timepieces changing the game and disrupting conventions, the IWC reference 3705 did not raise much success when it came out; I believe it was way ahead of its times. I guess that the IWC Fliegerchronograph Keramik, produced in a one-off batch of a thousand pieces, appeared when the steel IWC Fliegerchronograph and Chronomat by Breitling and the sports chronograph in steel ruled. The "Black Flieger" thus disappeared to then hit the spotlight as a highly sought-after collector's piece. If you're lucky enough to find an IWC Fliegerchronograph 3705 anywhere on the Internet, be ready to pay more than 20,000 Euros; Günter Blümlein's own IWC 3705 fetched an outrageous $54,000 once auctioned, despite being as cutting-edge as it was standard from a mechanical standpoint, given the popular yet robust Valjoux 7750 caliber's equipment.
The "Tribute to" moniker includes collector's pieces paying homage to iconic IWC timepieces, the most wanted to be the sold-out IWC Big Pilot's Watch Tribute to 5002; the new IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705" is the storyteller of a success story which started with the Fliegerchronograph and the "Grosse Fliegeruhr" between the mid and the late nineties. The designers took the original recipe to strengthen brand awareness and re-ignite an IWC die-hard fan's passion. Here they come, therefore, the short and long baton hands, with the minute one sporting an arrow-shaped end and the same central chronograph hand you'll spot on a 3705 instead. These details play with nostalgia as much as the matte black, gray case gives the timepiece a kind of F-117 Stealth looks to it.
The Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705" is the second iteration of a Ceratanium™ powered IWC Pilot, after IWC introducing the top-of-the-range Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium™. Place them on a desk, and you'll appreciate the quintessential "Tribute to 3705" feel on the new one. The font is a modernization of a 3705's and makes the package so compelling and pure when paired with the baton-style indexes.
The Ceratanium® case is the icing on the cake; it gives this commemorative edition that touch of ingenuity you found on the 3705 in 1994. In contrast, it adds a matte grayish-black tone. Ceratanium™ overcomes one of the most notable letdowns when engineering any ceramic case, whatever the brand: lower resilience. IWC's proprietary titanium and ceramic alloy aims at making the Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705" as mechanically resistant and light as it is scratch resistant.
Inside the 41 mm wide and 15,3 mm thick case, it houses the manufactured IWC caliber 69380 boasting 46 hours of power reserve, a specification not in line with the best-in-class calibers; I assume IWC's main requirement was, during the design phase, to increase robustness and reliability further, in the benchmark. The most notable difference between new and old is the case thickness instead; you'll find the new reference IW387905 hardly sliding under the cuff once on your wrist. Nevertheless, I appreciate how IWC is relentlessly reducing its timepieces' case size throughout the range. The IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705" is limited to 1000 pieces and priced at 13,100 Euros.
(Photo credit: Marco Antinori per Horbiter®)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®