IWC is stealthy in ceramic for the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun IWC is stealthy in ceramic for the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun

IWC is stealthy in ceramic for the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun

Borna Bošnjak

Many manufacturers have delved into the recent trend of brightly coloured dials fitted to slightly dressier, but still everyday-friendly watches. It’s fairly rare, however, that this colourful element continued into the cases, and this is where IWC’s ceramic-cased Pilot’s Watch line-up comes in. It’s no secret that their Pantone-tinged Woodland Green, white Lake Tahoe, and sandy Mojave Desert Pilot’s models enjoyed lots of success that resulted in lengthy wait times. Though certainly not as colourful as its predecessor, the new Jet Black (pun intended, I assume) ceramic Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun shows off IWC’s mastery of the material for the first time in this particular case size, though the material has been a staple of the collection for over a decade.

What’s new?

As mentioned before, probably the most notable novelty is the 41.9mm black ceramic case, the first combination for that material in that case size. With pushers in brushed titanium, the Top Gun Pilot’s Chrono 41 gets enough contrast for it to be appreciated but not so much that it would detract from its stealthy overall design. Though the pushers do not screw down, the case still guarantees 100 metres (10 bar) of water resistance, which is plenty for a watch of this type. Its monochromatic look was “inspired by technical components of supersonic jets”, according to IWC, and it checks out considering the love aerospace engineers have for the two materials that comprise the watch – ceramic for its high temperature resistance and titanium for its strength and lightweight nature. Bit of a stroke of luck that they look cool as heck when shaped into a luxury wristwatch.

While not a brand new feature for IWC, it’s worth mentioning the EasX-CHANGE strap system that IWC implemented last year, specifically so for the Pilot’s Watch line-up. Sure, it does limit you to using IWC straps exclusively due to the fixed spring bars, but the brand’s wide range of rubber and leather options and the ease with which you can switch up straps and their buckles are worth the compromise.

Familiar features

Though the case is brand new, it’s the dial that is likely to be the thing that draws you in at first glance. Its layout is unaltered from previous Pilot’s Watch Chrono 41 models, rendered in a matte black with highly contrasting, lumed numerals and a striking red fill to the running seconds hand. The sword-shaped handset is outlined in black, though the white lume fill ensures great legibility. Due to this monochromatic look, the dial is quite flat, bar the slightly sunken sub-dials, prioritising legibility over excessive depth. The dial is protected by a convex sapphire crystal featuring dual-sided anti-reflective coating, the glass itself being protected against flying out of its gaskets by a sudden drop in air pressure.

Finally, the beating heart of the Pilot’s Chrono. The IWC-manufactured 69380 calibre is an automatic, column-wheel operated chronograph movement with 46 hours of power reserve, beating at 28,800 vph. It sports a pawl winding system, rather than IWC’s famous Pellaton winding, cementing its position as a mid-range offering from the brand. It is, however, a well-executed upgrade from the cam-operated chronograph movements based on the ETA 7750/Sellita SW500 families that IWC relied on in the past. Though they share similarities like the dial layout and oscillating pinion for engaging the chronograph, their gear trains and escapement are completely different. It’s also pleasantly, albeit machine, decorated, but hidden behind a solid titanium caseback emblazoned with the Top Gun insignia.

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun pricing and availability:

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun is available now from IWC. Price: A$13,500

Brand IWC
Model Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun
Reference Number IW389401
Case Dimensions 41.9mm (D) x 15.5mm (T)
Case Material Ceramic
Water Resistance 10 bar
Crystal(s) Sapphire
Dial Matte black
Lug Width 20mm
Strap Rubber strap with EasX-CHANGE system
Movement IWC 69380 calibre, automatic, column wheel chronograph
Power Reserve 46 hours
Functions Chronograph, hours, minutes, small seconds, day, date
Availability Now
Price A$13,500