A Second Look: The Bronze IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41
Bronze and blue – an unlikely, but gorgeous combination.
There has been a great rush in watchmaking to experiment with different materials in recent years. Steel, ceramic, PVD coatings, and even recycled carbon have all found their way into watches as of late. However, one material has won over the hearts of watch collectors almost universally – bronze.
For those who may not be familiar with the metal, bronze is an alloy of copper mixed with a variety of other materials. There is no one perfect way to create the alloy, so over history the composition and look of it has changed. However, one thing that has remained constant is the beautiful aging and patination bronze takes on over time.
The IWC Pilot’s Chronograph
As timeless as bronze itself, the canvas for this material today is the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41. By now, many of us are familiar with the Pilot’s Chronograph that has been a staple of the brand since the 1990s. Today’s models, however, are direct descendants of the iconic 3706 and 3705 “Fleigerchronograph” models from 1994.
While those models were 39mm, today’s Pilot’s Chronographs are available in sizes ranging from 41 to 43mm in diameter. Last year saw the introduction of the smaller – and crowd-pleasing – 41mm case. IWC also upgraded the movement quite dramatically with the IWC 69385 calibre. While still based on the robust and capable Valjoux 7750, the 69385 includes 46 hours of power reserve, beautiful finishing, and a semi-skeletonized rotor.
Earlier this year, though, the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 received a new dial color to match its bronze case. While the bronze case was previously available with a green dial in the vintage-inspired Spitfire Chronograph, it now gains a blue dial variant, adding a distinctly contemporary flair to counteract the Spitfire’s vintage aesthetic.
A Blue Dial, but No Blues Here
So, it’s a new dial color…what’s the big deal?
Well, it's not that simple. The dial of IW388109 (let's just call it the Pilot’s Chronograph) color changes to a warm sunburst blue color, but it also now gains gold-plated hands and cream-printed Arabic numerals with a matching outer track. The day and date discs are changed to a more harmonious cream color as well, which really compliments the nature of the bronze case. The chronograph sub-registers retain their signature pilot-style lumed hands, but the six o’clock register gets a beautiful pop of red on the hand to really keep things interesting. In this case, a little red goes a long way.
The watch is finished off with a very elegant blue textile strap with matching bronze hardware to the case. Another nicety, the strap also features IWC’s new EasX-CHANGE strap system, which allows for the wearer to pop straps on and off with the push of a small button on the underside of the case – moving us one day closer to a future where we no longer need to stab ourselves with spring bar tools!
On the Wrist
Here at Watchonista, we had the opportunity to sample the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 Bronze/Blue a variety of different times, and in a variety of different locations. From our initial encounter at Watches & Wonders to outdoors during the summer poolside, the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 in bronze and blue had proven to be a versatile companion.
Like other members of the Pilot’s Chronograph 41 family, the 41mm case is approximately 14.5mm thick which makes it wear comfortably on the wrist. The 41mm case continues to be my personal choice over the bigger 43mm Pilot’s Chronograph, which just feels a little too big for my wrist. Combined with 10 bars of water resistance this watch can handle pretty much anything you throw at it, and with style!
Unlike the Spitfire that shares this same bronze case, this blue dial example gains an exhibition caseback, so that you can admire the movement (and its always delightful column wheel action) when you decide to change those straps or take it off the wrist.
With killer proportions that make for easy wearing and a beautiful gold/blue colorway throughout, this is a watch that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with. I think it represents an exceptional value for somebody who is looking for a great everyday chronograph wristwatch, as well as a unique addition to a more seasoned collection due to the inevitable way in which the case will patina.
The IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 (IW388109) is available online and in stores with a retail price of $8,250 at press time.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)