In a bit of a surprising announcement, especially so soon after Baselworld, IWC has released the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Online Boutique Edition. IWC began selling watches directly on their online store back in 2017, and this release is no doubt an attempt to draw traffic to their online store. Available exclusively through IWC’s online store, the Pilot Watch Chronograph is a clear descendant of IWC’s classic aviation watches.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph features a steel case that clocks in at a diameter of 43mm and a height of 15.3mm. Since this is a pretty standard dimension across most pilot chronographs, I imagine it will wear quite well on the wrist. Beating inside the watch is the IWC Caliber 79230, an automatic chronograph movement based on the ETA 7750, with a 44 hour power reserve, 25 jewels, and a frequency of 28,800 bph. On the dial are 3 registers displaying the running seconds, elapsed minutes tracked by the chronograph, and elapsed hours tracked by the chronograph.
In addition, the movement provides the wearer with both the day and date. The sub-registers are displayed in the usual style found on watches powered by a 7750 based movement, and it works really well here. Some also might bemoan the use of the day-date function, but I really dig it here—something about it meshes nicely with the dial’s aesthetic, and I greatly appreciate the functionality of the day-date complication. In classic IWC pilot watch fashion, the movement is encased in an iron cage to protect the movement from magnetization, and as a result, the caseback is solid. The watch is water resistant to 60 meters, and as is expected at this price point, has a sapphire crystal.
In my opinion, the dial of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is really stunning. Based on the “Fliegerchronograph” that IWC produced over 20 years ago, the dial’s clean design is very reminiscent of pure tool watches. The white markers provide a nice contrast with the black dial, and the hands and lume plots at 12, 3, 6, and 9 are painted with beige faux-patina style lume. Faux-patina lume can sometimes be overdone, but it works well with the vintage style of this design. The squared-off hour hand and slightly pointed minute hand are similar to those found on older IWC fliegers, like the Mark 11, which I think is a good choice for this watch. Additionally, the subdials have a nice subtle radial texturing that provides a nice visual element to break up an otherwise smooth dial design.
Packaged with the watch is its only strap: a green textile/NATO strap, and my feelings about this decision are a bit conflicted. The watch does look quite good on the strap in photos, and I’m sure the IWC NATO is high quality, but as someone who already owns a ton of NATO straps that I could easily put on any watch, I wish that IWC had chosen to include a nice leather strap as well. Finding a well-made leather strap that matches a specific watch can be difficult, while there are a variety of high quality NATO straps out there that individuals could source themselves. At this price point, IWC could have done a bit more in the strap department.
IWC has released the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph on their online store, where it will exclusively remain until October of 2018. I think this is a clever way to increase IWC’s online presence with people who were either previously unaware or simply didn’t care. By releasing an enticing watch that isn’t just a simple limited edition, IWC has a good chance at attracting some new online customers. And as a Mark XVIII owner, I just love IWC’s pilot watch designs. The clean dial design, classic hands, and vintage atmosphere of this watch check a lot of boxes for me, and I’m sure that IWC will attract a large audience with this one, both to their online store and when it eventually hits brick-and-mortar shops. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is available exclusively through IWC’s online store at a price of $4,950. iwc.com