Monochrome Watches
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The IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 Shows Great Promise

Forget the branding on the caseback, these are very well-made, super good-looking racing chronographs from Schaffhausen. And we want more, without AMG mentioned…

| By Denis Peshkov | 5 min read |

As we approached the end of 2023, the landscape for those seeking an obtainable motorsport-inspired chronograph underwent a shift, offering a slightly broader array of options. This was spurred by the notable introduction of an extension to IWC‘s Pilot’s Watch series: the Performance Chronograph 41. Available in titanium to commemorate the brand’s enduring partnership with Mercedes-Benz AMG and in Ceratanium to pay homage to the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, these releases sparked considerable excitement. We had the opportunity for a hands-on experience, and we’re eager to share our impressions.

From the outset, it’s important to clarify that the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 models aren’t simply the standard Pilot’s watches with an added tachymetric bezel and appropriate branding. Rather, they represent IWC’s interpretation of the classic racing chronograph. They are not intended to replace the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Edition Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team (IW388108), as it remains in the collection. However, for the Performance Chronograph 41 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team reference, the team’s colours were incorporated, albeit more subtly. Nonetheless, our focus here is not to compare previous models but to share our impressions about these new additions to the Performance series.

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Surprise… the Performance 41 case measures 41mm in diameter (well, 41.1mm) and is slightly less than 15mm thick (surely, not the thinnest of models). It is rated 100m water resistant and features chronograph pushers on the crown side. Up until now, classic.

The fixed, polished black tachymeter ceramic bezel adds a distinct touch, emphasising its racetrack-ready purpose – and despite sharing most characteristics with a standard Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41, this bezel changes everything. Indeed, this alteration gives the otherwise familiar airforce-inspired instrument-like design a significantly different appearance and also makes these watches wear slightly larger than this diameter suggests.

 The bezel slightly protrudes over the middle case, contributing to the perception of a larger size of the new Chronograph Performance 41 references. Nevertheless, the ergonomics are excellent, and the weight is reduced by employing lightweight materials. While 41mm might not be the preferred diameter for many these days, the overall proportions are well-balanced despite a 50mm length, and as a performance piece, it excels on the wrist – a fact we can attest to, having had the opportunity to try it out.

Suppose I had to choose a favourite between the IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 two case variants. I’d be hard-pressed, as both are incredibly appealing, and the dial details are exceptional. The multi-layered display presentation immediately catches the eye, with everything optimized for legibility and each element meticulously designed to meet the highest expectations. The applied hour indices (featuring baton-style, Arabic numerals, and the iconic triangle with accompanying dots) and hands boast a gleaming black outline, except for the central seconds hand. Surprisingly, the three recessed, snailed sub-dials and their crisp chapter rings contribute to an overall sense of clarity, even though I firmly believe two sub-dials are the ideal chronograph layout. 

Setting apart the Ceratanium-cased Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team version from the titanium AMG reference are the team’s distinctive teal green accents – seen in the day and date indications, the seconds track, and the running seconds hand, which the titanium AMG watch gets in white and greyish hues.

Last but not least, the day and date windows at 3 o’clock feature discs turning on different levels; this is immediately noticeable from any angle and adds to the three-dimensional layered effect that enhances the sensation of interacting with a complex machine, hinting at plenty hidden beneath the surface. This brings us to the heart of the timepieces – their engines.

One side of these engines is visible through the screw-down exhibition casebacks, featuring tinted display windows adorned with printing on their underside surfaces, each highlighting their respective partnerships (honestly, both watches could do well without these mentions, especially the AMG one). The IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 series is powered by the manufacture Caliber 69385 automatic column-wheel integrated chronograph movement, nicely decorated, operating at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations/hour with a slightly under-performing power reserve of approximately 46 hours.

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 comes in four references, with two options for each case material, distinguished by either a rubber strap or bracelet as standard. The black rubber straps with a titanium or Ceratanium pin buckle feature a convenient EasX-CHANGE system, allowing easy, tool-free swapping to another strap if desired. Alternatively, the H-link bracelets, available in grade 5 titanium or Ceratanium to match the case material, boast an integrated extension feature for easy adjustment by pressing the IWC logo on the folding clasp. The bracelets are lovely, yet I find the black rubber strap a favourite this time. It complements the watch’s performance-oriented design and offers greater versatility, especially if a change from black becomes desirable over time – and there’s a considerable price difference.

The titanium Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 AMG edition costs EUR 10,700 on a strap and EUR 12,800 on a bracelet, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team in Ceratanium will set you back EUR 14,900 on a strap and with the Ceratanium bracelet the price is EUR 22,000 (The latter is surely in the upper range of the category in terms of price…)

To conclude, I admit not being a fan of Formula One racing, meaning I know little of it. Yet I heard that Lewis Hamilton left Mercedes for Ferrari, thus ending his 11-year relationship with the brand. A better-suited Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 could have graced his wrist if he had stayed for another year. And on that topic, I also must say that I’d love to see a non-AMG-branded version in titanium or even in steel, with small red accents, just to bring a more discreet and mostly timeless appeal to this objectively very cool watch. 

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3 responses

  1. Wow! I would have really liked to see a 7100 euro watch bracelet.

  2. These, especially the Ceratanium version are my favorite IWC watches. Will wait for grey market prices come down to $8K, maybe $7k.

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