In a thrilling new development, the IWC Pilots Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces has been unveiled, marking the first time that an IWC Pilot’s Watch has featured a fully luminous white dial. This timepiece is the latest product of the brand’s celebrated collaborations with U.S. Navy squadrons. Encased in a purposeful and menacing black ceramic, the watch is a study in high contrast, from its dial to its overall design.
The watch measures 41mm wide, its virtually scratchproof black ceramic casing designed to minimize reflections, especially when worn high above the clouds where the sun is always shining. The massive hour and minute hands, a signature of the Pilot’s Watch, along with the central seconds hand, are matte to stand out against the expansive white dial. In a departure from tradition, the hour and minute hands are filled with white lacquer instead of luminous material, and the hour markers, styled after onboard flight instruments, are glossy black instead of the usual glow-in-the-dark paint. This unique design is made possible by the inverse execution of the dial where the background of the indices, i.e., the dial itself, is covered with glow-in-the-dark material, creating a stark contrast with the black indices.
The result is a spectacle that will delight fans of Super-LumiNova, watch photography, and outstanding low-light legibility. The Black Aces logo is outlined in black with a red stripe, complemented by a dash of red at the tip of the central seconds hand. Interestingly, the logo at 6 o’clock features the number 41, aligning with the case diameter of this particular IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic. This watch was engineered for the Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41, also known as the “Black Aces”), based at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California.
The caseback, made of lightweight titanium, is engraved with a “Black Aces” twin-engine jet against a backdrop of spades. It, along with a soft-iron inner case, protects the IWC 32100 caliber from the elements, including magnetic fields and pressures up to 6 bar (equivalent to 60 meters). The 32100 is an IWC-manufactured movement that combines a modern 4Hz operating frequency with 3 days (72 hours) of power reserve, replenished by a self-winding system. Despite its extended power reserve and modern frequency, the watch remains relatively thin at 11.4mm, making it a comfortable daily wear. The comfort is further enhanced by a black textile strap with a pin buckle in sandblasted stainless steel. The front of the watch is covered by a convex-shaped sapphire crystal with an antireflective coating on both sides.
As a true pilot’s watch, IWC secures and tests the front crystal against displacement by drops in air pressure, a common occurrence when modern jets gain altitude at an almost unimaginable rate. While the pressure at great depths can crush a watch, a sudden drop in air pressure can cause the air trapped inside the watch to shoot the friction-fit front crystal from the bezel, a safety hazard that is out of the question for an IWC Pilot’s Watch. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces (IW326905) is priced at $6,800, excluding taxes. iwc.com