The Fliegerchronograph Is Back! Meet The New IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705"
Not every watch finds the success intended at its launch. Some are just too forward-thinking to be best-selling pieces. But sometimes, a bit like a fairy-tale, a watch’s fate changes, and it becomes a classic.
Following the release of the IWC Pilot's Watch Timezoner "Le Petit Prince" Limited Edition earlier this year, IWC Schaffhausen is, once again, taking us up into the clouds. And with today’s release of the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705," we're not landing any time soon! So, sit back, fasten your seat belt and enjoy the flight.
The word Fliegerchronograph might ring a bell to you. If so, you might remember the 2018 STYLED Auction at Phillips when the IWC Fliegerchronograph Keramik Ref. 3705 – owned by Günter Blümlein, the man who piloted much of the watchmaking world safely through the Quartz Crisis – smashed its estimated price and sold for $53,750.
"Born" in the mid-1990s, the IWC Fliegerchronograph Keramik Ref. 3705 (also called "Black Flieger") was the first-ever pilot's watch of that size with a ceramic case. However, the Fliegerchronograph was ahead of its time. The black ceramic 39mm case coupled with a day and date display in addition to a chronograph function made the timepiece extremely practical. One of the instantly recognizable characteristics was the bright lume on the thick squarish hands and indices – perfect for night flights and a great contrast with the black dial.
However, in some ways, the timepiece was too futuristic. The watch didn't have the expected success, and production stopped only four years after its launch, with only a rumored 999 pieces ever produced.
Often overlooked, multiples blogs and specialized press have talked about the 3705 and how underrated it was. But it was only in 2018, during the Phillips auction, that the Fliegerchronograph was put back on the map and is now one of the most sought-after IWC timepieces of this generation. Fast forward to 2021, IWC decided to revive the classic and give it the platform it deserves.
The Remake of a Classic
For the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705," IWC made sure to stay faithful to the now-classic watch. With only a few aesthetic updates, it isn't far from the original.
We'll start with the dial. Like the original 3705, the new Tribute to 3705 has two totalizers at 9 and 12 o'clock that display stop times of up to 12 hours. the brand added the two dots at 12 o'clock to allude to its regular Pilot’s Watches collection. One another change to note is at the day-date window level, where IWC took the “Automatic” out of the dial and replaced it with the “Schaffhausen” therefore cutting the logo in half.
The case also echoes the Fliegerchronograph, but instead of ceramic, IWC opted for their own innovative material, Ceratanium. Developed in-house by IWC, Ceratanium is robust while still light like titanium and scratch-resistant like the ceramic of the original 3705. One of the significant changes is that instead of steel for the pushers and crown, IWC again opted for Ceratanium, which gives the timepiece a more uniform look than its predecessor. For this tribute timepiece, IWC increased the size of the case to 41mm, to fit today’s standards on Pilot’s Watches.
Powered by an in-house movement, the calibre 69380, the 41mm IWC Schaffhausen Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition "Tribute to 3705" boasts a power reserve of 46 hours and water-resistance to 3-bar. Interestingly, the calibre 69380 is the same movement that powers the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” Edition launched last year.
Ready for Take-Off
The IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” (Ref. IW387905) will be limited to 1,000 pieces as a nod to the number of watches produced in the four-year production window of the Fliegerchronograph. The timepiece will be priced at $11,900 and will be exclusively available online.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)