A classic among the collection of Pilot’s Watches, almost as important as the Big Pilot (in fact, it’s a chronograph that relaunched the pilot range at IWC), the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is the collection’s cornerstone. A staple for the brand, which has produced such a model since the mid-1990s. For long an oversized watch with a 43mm case and Valjoux-based movement, it was revamped in 2021 with the introduction of a smaller case and a manufacture movement. Following the classic steel editions and a Ceratanium model, the brand once again demonstrates its focus on materials with this new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Bronze IW388109, combining warm colours for the case and dial.
The current IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is the direct descendant of two significant watches: the mid-1990s references 3711 Doppelchronograph and the 3705, the classic chronograph housed in a ceramic case (and its steel counterpart, the 3706). These two watches were the foundation for the current Pilot’s Watch collection, redefining the design and spirit for the past 30 years and showing no signs of ageing. While many have the Big Pilot Watch in mind, the chronograph might be even more important, historically and commercially, being a sort of entry-level watch available in multiple editions.
For many years, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph has been a large watch with a standard movement. The 2016 versions were 43mm in diameter and powered by a calibre 7750. IWC started to work on the attractivity of this sub-collection back in 2018 with the introduction of the Spitfire models in stainless steel or bronze. Part of these vintage-inspired models was a reduced case of 41mm and a so-called manufacture movement, equipped with a column-wheel. In 2021, the brand launched a limited edition paying tribute to the 3705 and later the classic steel collection with the same reduced proportions and movement.
All these features, which improved the appeal of this collection quite dramatically, are now well implemented. And so it’s time for IWC to play with colours and innovative and original materials, an essential part of the brand’s DNA as we’ve seen in recent coloured ceramic models.
Mechanically speaking, the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Bronze IW388109 is, as you would expect, the same watch as the steel editions with the well-proportioned 41mm case, all the design cues of the collection, but now made of bronze. To be precise, IWC uses an alloy that relies on aluminium and iron, in addition to copper. This specific composition makes the alloy around 50 per cent harder than standard bronze. IWC also emphasises the material’s biocompatibility. This alloy will tend to develop a light patina over time, giving the watch a unique personality.
The case of this Bronze Chronograph 41 is entirely sandblasted, which on this brand new, non-patinated model results in quite an interesting look. A sort of matte gold colour that is rich and warm, yet without the shine and opulence of gold. It’s something unique and that I enjoyed. Sure, the patina will develop and give the case a darker, greener colour (a process that can be undone, making the watch look fresh again if desired). The rest of the specifications are classic, with bronze crown and pushers and sapphire crystals on both sides. The caseback, in direct contact with the skin, is made of titanium, and the watch has a comfortable 100m water-resistance.
On the wrist, and thanks to the supple textile strap supplied with the watch, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Bronze is comfortable and not too large. It has a certain presence, like most automatic chronographs, but doesn’t feel oversized anymore. Note that this watch, as many recently released by IWC, is equipped with the practical EasX-CHANGE system. It enables the wearer to change the strap at the touch of a button and without any additional tools. The brand also offers a wide selection of calfskin and rubber straps in multiple colours (available in boutiques and online) if you want to change the personality of your watch.
The dark blue dial contrasts nicely with the bronze; the matte blue texture is paired with gold-plated hands, and all the elements – tracks, logos, markers and even the day/date discs – are executed in a beige/tritium colour. All the hands and the markers at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock are filled with luminescent material. The only touch of colour on this watch is the sub-seconds hand, coated in red.
Under the sapphire caseback is the manufacture calibre 69385, a powerful evolution of the 7750 architecture produced by Richemont’s ValFleurier.This automatic, integrated chronograph is equipped with a column wheel, resulting in a pleasant feel for the pushers. The power reserve, at 46 hours, is decent. The movement is decorated in a pleasant way, with an openworked rotor, circular stripes on the automatic bridge and perlage on the mainplate.
Availability & Price
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Bronze IW388109 is released as part of the permanent collection and isn’t limited. It is now available through IWC boutiques, authorised retailers and online at the brand’s website. This watch is priced at EUR 7,650, CHF 7,500 or USD 7,300. For more details and orders, please visit IWC.com.