Heritage is the key buzzword when it comes to watches right now. With many consumers enamored with timepieces of the past, it’s a no-brainer for manufacturers to revive coveted designs and give buyers a chance to acquire new watches inspired by the references of yesteryear. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” is a classic example of this trend, with the brand faithfully reviving a cult watch from 1994.
The IWC Ceramic Fliegerchronograph (ref. 3705) is now considered one of the most sought-after models from the brand’s recent history. After briefly fading into obscurity, it re-gained widespread attention thanks to the patina potential of its classic tritium dial and a ceramic case that was ahead of its time. In fact, one piece from the personal collection of former IWC director Günter Blümlein was auctioned for a staggering $53,750 USD. The new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” maintains the crucial DNA of the original design, but incorporates subtle upgrades to make the watch stack up against the brand’s modern collection.
Instead of using ceramic, it features a 41mm case made of Ceratanium® – a proprietary blend of ceramic and titanium developed by IWC. Arguably the most notable visual change to the case is the fact that the crown and pushers are no longer fabricated in metal, but in case-matching ceramic. This results in a more uniform and stealthy matte-black aesthetic that I think improves on the original design. While it is a pilot’s chronograph, the watch offers a respectable depth rating of 60 metres – making it safe to wear around water.
The dial of the new watch largely stays true to the 1994 model with subtle changes made to improve the legibility. The Arabic hour numerals have become a tad thicker, making them easier to read and creating more real estate for SuperLuminova® coatings. The hours, minutes, as well as the hands on the sub-registers of the chronograph retain their metallic finish instead of white coatings to increase the way they play with light. At 12 o’clock the triangle marker is now flanked by circular pips on each side, further tying the aesthetic with modern IWC design language. The last difference to the dial is the absence of the automatic text on the dial with the IWC branding now taking on a more modern font as well.
As for the functionality of the dial, there is a lot to like. There are three chrongraph sub-dials at 12′, 9′, and 6 o’clock, displaying the elapsed minutes, elapsed hours and running seconds respectively. Each register has a concentric guilloche for added elegance and texture. At 3 o’clock, surrounded by the IWC branding above and below, are two calendar apertures that display both the day and the date. It may seem like a lot to pack into a dial on paper, but IWC are well-known for their legible designs and the layout is masterfully executed in that regard.
The watch is paired with a pebbled, matte-black calf-leather strap, that features IWC’s signature taper where the thicker end connecting to the case narrows as you move down the strap. The stitching of the strap is also black, further maintaining the stealthy nature of this new take on the “Black Flieger”. It is secured by a case-matching pin and buckle system.
The watch has received a massive upgrade in its movement. While the original ref. 3705 was powered by the Valjoux calibre 7750, this new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” boasts the latest movement technology from Schaffhausen. Inside the 41-millimetre case ticks the in-house 69380 calibre. This robust and precise chronograph movement utilises a classic column-wheel design and a bi-directional pawl-winding system that reliably builds up a power reserve of 46 hours.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” pricing and availability:
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” is available exclusively through IWC.com, wechat, YNAP, and official flagship store on Tmall as a limited edition of 1000 pieces. Price $18,500 AUD
Made in partnership with IWC. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.