The Ace Up IWC’s Sleeve: Introducing the New Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces
Before we get into the facts of the new Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces from IWC, let’s kick things off with a “Fun Fact”: Did you know that U.S. Naval flyers are not called pilots; they are called aviators?
Not only that, but the term “aviator” applies broadly to all water-based aviation conducted by the U.S. military, be it by the Navy, Marines, or even the U.S. Coast Guard.
Moreover, while there is no doubt that the importance of naval air power to combat scenarios has been a linchpin in modern military history, the fighter squadrons delivering these critical forces have often developed their own reputations and fame that contribute to the heritage of excellence attached to the word “aviator.”
Excellence in Service
No U.S. Naval fighter squadron has forged a more venerable backstory than Strike Fighter Squadron 41. Formed in 1950 and now based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California, this squadron is also known as the “Black Aces.” And despite their impressive flight and combat record, you might not know very much about them.
Currently operating very fast F/A18F Super Hornet fighters (in fact, their radio call sign is “Fast Eagle”), “Black Aces” aviators have been deployed during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, Operation Nickel Grass in Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the Iranian Hostage Crisis, conflicts in Libyan airspace, air security needs during conflicts in Lebanon, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and virtually every U.S. military action since. Its light shines bright in military history.
Light It Up
Presenting as clean white in daylight, the dial’s solid disc of Super-LumiNova can fill a dimly lit cockpit with ambient green light for up to 23 continuous hours, according to IWC’s testing, taking watch legibility to a whole new, higher altitude. Moreover, the bipolar nature of the new watch’s dial is further enhanced by very minimal black Arabic hour indicators (with a traditional pilot watch two-dots-and-a-triangle indicator at 12 o’clock), bar and hashmark minute gauging, and black-bordered white blade hour hands.
In fact, the only break to the black-white motif is the red-tipped seconds hand and the red slash on the “Black Aces” squadron’s playing card patch/logo dashingly displayed at 6 o’clock. Meanwhile, a lightweight titanium caseback features commemorative badging along with an overhead view of the formidable F/A18F Super Hornet jet fighter on a field of spades.
The IWC-manufactured calibre 32100 automatic movement delivers 72 hours of power reserve at a very-precise 4Hz frequency, sports a soft-iron inner casing and silicon escapement to guard against magnetic fields, and air-pressure change protection via a secured-glass construction.
Although not technically a “stealth” fighter, at a maximum airspeed of 1.2 Mach, the F/A 18F can be on top of you before you know it, and that quick-strike vibe is mirrored in the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces’ menacing black zirconium oxide ceramic case, a material IWC started using as early as the 1980s. Second to only diamond in hardness, this kind of ceramic composite cuts down on the piece’s overall weight, ensures scratch-proof function even in the tight confines of a jet’s cockpit, and its military-grade matte finish avoids annoying light reflections in flight.
Finally, presented on a tough-looking black textile strap with a sand-blasted steel pin buckle, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces exudes all the ready-to-go, at-any-time straightforward competence of a flying ace, past or present.
Pricing & Availability
(Photography by Pierre Vogel)