Tested For You: The IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 Is At Home In Downtown Manhattan
We put IWC’s latest Pilot’s Chronograph to the test at New York City’s Oculus.
At this year’s Watches & Wonders, IWC Schaffhausen delighted collectors and enthusiasts by introducing a slew of new Pilot’s watches featuring in-house movements and the brand’s new EasX-CHANGE strap system. Of all the brand’s 2021 releases, there was one piece that captured my attention, the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 with a blue dial.
Thanks to our friends at IWC, Watchonista was able to get a sample of the new Chronograph 41 for a Tested For You review.
About the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41
For years, IWC’s Pilot’s Watch collections hovered around 43mm, and while that size is by no means large by today’s standards, for a smaller wrist like mine, I’ve always yearned for something slightly smaller.
Luckily, IWC has listened to consumer feedback and introduced a 41mm Pilot’s in 2019 with their Spitfire collection. Now, in 2021, the 41mm Pilot’s Chronograph broadens its appeal further with the introduction of blue or green dial variants.
There are two main talking points behind these new Pilot's. The first is the inclusion of IWC's (relatively) new calibre 69385 column-wheel chronograph movement.
The second point is the introduction of the brand's new EasX-CHANGE strap system. I don’t know about you, but I certainly won’t miss fudging around with spring bars and the various tools that manipulate and remove them.
As its name implies, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41’s stainless steel case is sized at 41mm. Buyers have the choice of a calfskin strap or stainless steel bracelet with a fold-over clasp.
The model that we tested was the ref. IW388101 with a blue dial and blue calfskin strap. For purposes of our test, IWC also sent their newly redesigned stainless steel bracelet. Price as tested (with the calfskin strap) is $6,500. Should you wish to purchase the version with the stainless steel bracelet (ref. IW388102), expect to spend $7,200.
The first thing I noticed after receiving the watch wasn’t its vibrant brushed blue dial. It was the box, er, I mean, leather case, in which the watch arrived. As part of the brand’s sustainability initiatives, IWC has downsized the packaging for its watches. Gone are the oversized presentation cases. In their place are soft, supple leather cases with plush interiors perfect for storing your watches away in a safe.
After I unclasped the magnetic button that secures the leather cover of the case, I was delighted to see the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 shining in all its glory. Its brushed sloping lugs feature a slight beveling, but unlike other chronographs at this price point, the IWC Chronograph 41 is built to be a robust tool watch.
The 41mm case is enhanced further by a thin polished bezel that surrounds the sapphire crystal cover on the dial side of the watch. Speaking of sapphire crystal, I am pleased to report that IWC has abandoned the solid casebacks it used for years on its Pilot's Watches, and in their place are sapphire crystals. All the better to admire the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41’s calibre 69385.
In The Metal
For all of its tool watch vibes, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 feels remarkably refined in person. The proportions of its predecessor, the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph 43, have been slimmed and downsized, making the new 41mm version downright comfortable.
Measuring 14.5mm thick, it is almost 1mm thinner than the 15.4mm thickness of the 43mm variant. And while this slight reduction in thickness may not seem like a lot, when coupled with a reduction in case size, it gives the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 all the right proportions.
Moreover, now that IWC is implementing its EasX-CHANGE strap system across most of its collection, the brand has also taken the opportunity to upgrade the materials attached to these proprietary connectors. Having owned numerous IWC watches over the years, I can attest that previous models had rigid leather straps that required a lot of break-in time. That's not the case with the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41, and its calfskin leather strap is soft, supple, and wears well right out of the box.
The new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is a compelling buy for reasons well beyond what I have already mentioned. As you may have read in my article, How Does IWC Continue To Make Relevant Pilot’s Watches?, the brand continues to produce compelling Pilot’s at nearly all price points.
Plus, with the added accessibility and transparency of CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr, the brand appeals to collectors, new and old. IWC, over the past 18 months, has rapidly transformed itself into becoming more accessible, not only in terms of price but also personality. And who doesn't want to purchase a watch from a brand that you can have a connection with? You worry less about spending your hard earned money when you feel like you’re a part of something greater, and that’s just what IWC is setting out to become.
Pricing & Availability
The new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is available in two versions and four references in total. The watches are available with your choice of a vibrant blue or rich green dial, and each piece can be outfitted with either a calfskin leather strap or stainless steel bracelet. All models feature IWC’s EasX-CHANGE system to swap between leather or bracelet straps quickly. The brand promises that more strap options will become available in the future.
The watches are available now from authorized IWC retailers and the brand’s website. On a calfskin leather strap, the watch comes in at $6,500 (ref. IW3888101 – blue dial, ref. IW388103 – green dial) and $7,200 on the stainless steel bracelet (ref. IW388102 – blue dial, ref. IW388104 – green dial).
To learn more about IWC Schaffhausen’s Pilot’s Watches Collection, visit the brand’s website.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)