Digging through the depths of IWC’s 152-year history would reveal a number of obscure timepieces – limited releases that have become faded cult classics, set against a range of modern icons like the Big Pilot and the Portugieser Chronograph. One such forgotten classic is the 1994 Ceramic Fliegerchronograph (Ref. 3705), a fan favourite and one of the most sought-after models from IWC’s more recent history. It is also the very model that happens to be the subject of the brand’s latest release, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition ‘Tribute to 3705’.
The new tribute edition faithfully replicates the original’s dial design, but switches its unique black zirconium oxide ceramic for a case made of house-produced Ceratanium – a material specially developed by IWC to be both as light and rigid as titanium, and as hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic.
With only 1,000 pieces made, the IWC ‘Tribute To 3705’ chronograph arrives in a 41mm case and is powered the in-house 69380 calibre – a sophisticated update over the original’s Valjoux based 7750 movement. Designed to be robust and precise, the column-wheel designed calibre with a bi-directional pawl winding system offers a power reserve of 46 hours.
The dial is of particular interest here – an exact replica of the original – boasting sub-dials at 9 and 12 with stop times of up to 12 hours, while an additional subdial at 6 o’clock accounts for small seconds. A day and date display sit at 3 o’clock, maintaining IWC’s classic pilot aesthetic.
While the original Ref. 3705 was pioneering in the use of black ceramic IWC is hoping this tribute edition will be just as seminal, replacing the once-innovative ceramic with the newly engineered Ceratanium, used for not just the case, but the chronograph pushers and pin buckle as well.
With a black calfskin strap and rhodium hands, IWC has gone to great lengths to ensure the original ‘Black Flieger’ – its eventual nickname – is given a proper tribute entirely worthy of a watch that was once auctioned for a staggering US$53,750 (~AU$69,239).
The IWC ‘Tribute To 3705’ retails for $18,500 but you’ll have to join the waitlist and cross your fingers to score one.