Monochrome Watches
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The New and Fully Luminous IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces

The Black Aces special edition shines bright thanks to its fully luminous dial.

| By Robin Nooy | 4 min read |
IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces IW326905 Luminous Dial

Founded in 1868 by Boston watchmaker Florentine Ariosto Jones, IWC Schaffhausen can look back at more than a century and a half of watchmaking history. More than half of that has involved watches made for aviation, whether military or commercial. Its first-ever pilot’s instrument was made in 1936, and ever since, the company has been dedicated to the world of aviation (even though it does much more than that). Through decades of technical innovation, its reputation for focused, reliable pilot’s watches is rivalled by few. Although the most basic and clean models among the various collections of instruments remain proper fan favourites, IWC also likes to play around with the aesthetics of its Pilot’s Watch collections, both in materials and colours, as well as complexity. Case in point: the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces IW326905, which introduces the brand’s first fully luminous dial. 

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces IW326905 Luminous Dial

It’s a well-known fact that IWC has a deep-rooted connection to aviation, as it has been making mechanical pilot instruments for more than 85 years. This history is carefully curated by the brand and has been the cornerstone of its portfolio, with emblematic watches like the Big Pilot, the Mark-series and the Pilot Chronograph being just a few of the poster boys for IWC. Under the Professional Pilot’s Watches Program, IWC also constructs special editions in partnership with the US Navy. These watches are inspired by, created, and geared towards professional jet pilots from various squadrons. This reference IW326905 is made in collaboration with the members of the Strike Fighter Squadron 41 VFA-41, also known as the Black Aces, a fighter-jet squadron based at the Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.

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IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces IW326905 Luminous Dial

The case of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces edition is grafted out of highly scratch-resistant matte black zirconium oxide ceramic. In terms of size, it measures 41mm in diameter (as indicated in its name) and 11.4mm in height. That makes it slightly larger both in width and in thickness than a Mark XX, to put things in perspective. The full-black exterior looks and feels very tactile and purposeful and removes any form of reflections whatsoever. The screw-down crown is made of sandblasted stainless steel, toning the watch down even further. On top, a convex sapphire crystal with a two-sided anti-reflective coating covers it all. Around the back, though, it’s a different story as IWC has installed a solid screw-in caseback in titanium. This is finished with six notches to grab onto if there’s a need to unscrew it (using the proper tools, of course!) and a special emblem of an outlined twin-engine jet against a background of spades.

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces IW326905 Luminous Dial

The party trick of this Black Aces edition, and a first for IWC Schaffhausen, for that matter, is the fully luminous white Lumicast dial. And boy, does it shine bright! Honestly, you could read a book with this one. It is bright green, has a strong glow and lasts an impressive amount of time. Even the smallest amount of sunlight is enough to charge it, and when worn on a very bright day, the green hue of the Super-LumiNova easily comes shining through. It’s made with a special manufacturing process where Super-LumiNova pigments are mixed with a binder and put into a mould. When hardened, the disc has a ceramic-like durability and is fixed to a soft-iron dial blank.

To provide contrast (and LOTS of it!), the hour markers and minutes track are a glossy black colour. The black hour and minute hands also have Super-LumiNova inserts, adding even more glow to the watch. The central seconds hand is finished in black as well but is given a red tip to break it all up a bit. The red continues on the very crisp Black Ace patch in the bottom portion of the dial, which resembles the Ace of Spades. IWC states that during dark-chamber testing, the dial emitted a green glow for 23 hours straight, so you don’t have to worry at all about night-time legibility. Even though the dial is extremely clean, the fact it’s fully luminous and thus changes colour from stark white to a bright green glow adds a ton of life to the watch.

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces IW326905 Luminous Dial

IWC has fitted the Black Aces edition with the manufacture IW32100 calibre. This is fitted with a double pawl winding system to increase the efficiency of the rotor. The system transfers up to 72 hours of energy to the mainspring, which is quite good. The movement is protected from magnetic forces by a soft-iron inner case and a silicon escapement. It runs at a frequency of 4Hz, or 28,800vph. Although it’s one of the most basic movements used by IWC, as it only indicates the hours, minutes and seconds, it performs admirably. And to be honest, in such a watch you don’t really need anything more!

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces IW326905 Luminous Dial

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces edition IW326905 is sold exclusively through IWC’s online boutique and has a retail price of CHF 7,200 or EUR 7,700. It comes on a black textile strap with a leather lining and a sandblasted stainless steel pin buckle. The final detail to note about the Black Aces is the fact that the watch is not limited by number, unlike previous US Navy squadron watches like the Royal Maces, Tophatters and Blue Angles editions of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph.

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2 responses

  1. Laco beat IWC in the all luminous dials department by about 1 year. This summer Laco launched the 2nd, smaller model (I believe they now have 42 and 40 mm sizes). This squadron logo looks silly at 6 pm. And lastly, I knew it was a cousin of the Mark series (a total turnoff for me) the moment I laid my eyes on it.

  2. Laco – LOL.
    IWC has much better finishing and overall aesthetics.

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