There are few brands as specialized in pilot’s watches as IWC… The brand has a long and rich pedigree in this field and, since the comeback of the collection in the mid-1990s with the Ref. 3711 and Ref. 3706, IWC has collaborated with some of the greatest squadrons and special forces – including Top Gun. Recently, the Schaffhausen-based brand has become an official licensee of the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron “Blue Angels”… And here is the result of this collaboration, the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Blue Angels”.
The Blue Angels Squadron
The “Blue Angels” is the U.S. Navy’s flight demonstration squadron. It was initially formed in 1946, making it the second oldest formal aerobatic team – after the French Patrouille de France (formed 1931). As other demonstration squadrons, its role is to perform aerial displays and to demonstrate U.S. Navy’s skills throughout the United States, and “to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country“.
The Blue Angels Squadron is composed of McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornets (since 1986), which are currently flown by five Navy demonstration pilots and one Marine Corps demonstration pilot. Compared to military versions of the “Hornet”, modifications include removal of the weapons and replacement with the tank that contains smoke-oil used in demonstrations, as well as the special “Blue Angels” livery, bright navy blue with yellow accents.
This year, IWC Schaffhausen became an official licensee of the “Blue Angels”. As such, the brand presents a new watch, designed in collaboration with members of the flight demonstration squadron, and of course based on the IWC Pilot’s collection.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Blue Angels”
At first sight, this new Chronograph Edition Blue Angels feels very traditional, colour scheme apart. However, it has several noticeable features that make it rather unique… but also very much in line with the brand’s current direction of the Pilot’s collection.
The Chronograph Edition Blue Angels has all the classic IWC pilot’s watch DNA and the endorsement of the squadron.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Blue Angels is housed in a classic material for the brand: zirconium oxide ceramic, which can be found in multiple recent creations. (or not so recent, as IWC was the first brand to use ceramic). The case is treated in black, with a sandblasted finish – thus avoiding reflections, something that could be quite disturbing when flying Mach 1 and doing a barrel roll… Just saying! Crown and pushers are also executed in the classic IWC way, meaning in contrasting steel. I have always loved these metal elements in an untreated material, rather than having them coated. It is part of IWC’s design, since the ref. 3705.
The case is robust, to say the least, with a 44.5mm diameter and 15.7mm height. Don’t expect this watch to fly under the radar (pun intended). It is complemented by a textured blue calfskin strap and secured by a sandblasted steel folding buckle. The back of the strap is executed in bright yellow leather. The caseback of this Chronograph Edition Blue Angels is plain steel, with a specific engraving as a testament to the licence.
The main element to catch the eye on this new IWC Pilot’s Watch is the dial, which pays tribute to the colours found on the Blue Angels’ F/A-18 Hornets. As such, it shows a sunray-brushed blue background and multiple yellow accents, on the internal hour ring – which is inspired by early military observer’s watches – and the date numerals. The rest of the dial is familiar and made to be perfectly legible: large propeller-shaped hands in black with white lume, bold Arabic numerals for the minute markers and a triangle at 12 o’clock.
As you might have noticed, this IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Blue Angels has a specific display, with the small seconds positioned at 6 o’clock and the chronograph’s elapsed minutes and hours displayed co-axially in a single counter at 12 o’clock. This is a clear indication of what ticks inside the case, as this ref. IW389008 does not feature a Sellita, Valjoux-based automatic chronograph movement, but something more advanced instead.
Inside the Chronograph Edition Blue Angels is the in-house calibre 89361, a movement that was not used in the Pilot’s collection anymore. This modern engine is an integrated automatic chronograph with column-wheel and vertical clutch. It also features one of pilot’s favourite functions, the flyback or retour en vol, which allows to stop/start/reset the chronograph by one click on the pusher at 4 o’clock – used to do several calculations in a row. This manufacture calibre runs at 28,800 vibrations/hour and boasts 68 hours of power reserve.
Other features include a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields, a glass secured against displacement by drops in air pressure and a water-resistance of 60m.
Price and availability
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Blue Angels IW389008 will be available from November 2019 in IWC boutiques and from authorised retailers. It is a special but not limited edition. Its price will be CHF 11,900. More details at iwc.com.