It’s widely recognised that IWC has a long history in aviation, having produced mechanical pilot instruments for almost 85 years. This heritage has been meticulously preserved by the company and has served as the cornerstone of its portfolio, with iconic watches such as the Big Pilot, the Mark-series, and the Pilot Chronograph being just a few of IWC’s poster boys.
IWC also produces unique versions in collaboration with the US Navy as part of the Professional Pilot’s Watches Program. These timepieces were inspired by, designed for, and marketed to professional jet pilots from various squadrons. Like this new reference, IW326905, it was developed in conjunction with members of Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41), popularly known as the Black Aces, a fighter-jet squadron headquartered at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.
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The IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces edition case is made of scratch-resistant matte black zirconium oxide ceramic. It measures 41mm in diameter (as suggested by its name) and 11.4mm in height. To put things in context, it makes it somewhat wider and thicker than a Mark XX. The all-black exterior looks and feels very tactile and purposeful, plus it eliminates any type of reflection. The screw-down crown is constructed of sandblasted stainless steel, toning down the watch even more.
On top of it, a convex sapphire crystal with a two-sided anti-reflective coating protects everything. Around the back, however, it’s a different story, as IWC has inserted a strong screw-in titanium caseback.
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The highlight of this watch is the fully luminous white Lumicast dial. It’s a vibrant green with a powerful glow that lasts a long time. Even a modest quantity of sunshine is sufficient to charge it, and when worn on a sunny day, the Super-LumiNova readily shines through. It is produced by a unique manufacturing method in which Super-LumiNova pigments are combined with a binder and poured into a mold. When hardened, the disc has the toughness of ceramic and is attached to a soft-iron blank dial.
The hour markers and minutes track are a shiny black colour to offer contrast (and enough of it!). The black hour and minute hands contain Super-LumiNova inlays, giving the watch even more radiance. The centre second hand is also finished in black, but it has a red tip to mix it up a little. The red continues on the very sharp Black Ace patch at the bottom of the dial, which is reminiscent of the Ace of Spades.
This watch is powered by the IW32100 calibre, an automated movement from Richemont’s movement production plant, ValFleurier. This has a twin-pawl winding method to boost the rotor’s efficiency. The movement is beating at a frequency of 4 Hz and has 72 hours of power reserve. A soft-iron inner case and a silicon escapement protect the movement from magnetic fields that could ruin its performance.