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News: IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces

Black Knight flight into the dark

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces

You could say it was the American who was responsible for the existence of IWC when one Florentine Ariosto Jones came to Switzerland looking for a watch manufacturer who could produce watches for him to be sold in the American market. That part of the story is reserved for another day, but today we are here to talk about IWC’s iconic pilot watches which began in the late 1930s, like most watch manufacturers in Switzerland, switched all their activities to manufacturing watches for military purposes during the looming of WWII. 
The year 2000 was the year IWC saw the light at the end of the tunnel, when Richemont Group bought the company and revived it, thus beginning the modern era of the company. One of their avidities was the revival of their pilot watches, and it took the world by storm as it reignited the interest in not only the WWII pilot watches but also the modern aviation watches. A move one can only be deemed as brilliant, as every little boy and big boy harbour the dreams and fantasies of reliving the WWII aerial combats, and the watches play a fundamental role, to help them orientate. We have witnessed many generations of IWC Pilot Watches being reintroduced, refreshed and matched with every conceivable complication, with endless permutations. Over the years IWC has partnered with the US Navy and resulted in some of the most outstanding pilot watches out there.

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces

I am almost tempted to say today, but in fact, almost a week ago IWC unveiled their latest pilot watch in the form of the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces. Carrying on with the tradition of developing specialised watches for their most discerning jet pilots. Drawing inspiration from the pilot watches IWC engineered for the Naval Air Station Lemoore members in California’s squadron Strike Fighter Squadron 41, aka the “Black Aces”, formed in 1950. A watch that represents IWC’s 85 years of know-how and the latest technology in its execution. 

Close up view of the Lumicast dial and the black details

The first thing that strikes you is the stark white Lumicast dial, in contrast against the black of everything, transferred indexes and Arabic hours markers, the SuperLuminova coated black hours, minutes and seconds hands. Is simply captivating on its own. To top it all off, a black 41mm ceramic case (a coincidental nod towards the 41 Squadron, maybe?) which housed the stunning and striking timepiece. If you are a big fan of black watches, I am pretty sure you are almost sold. The aesthetics of the watch with its indexes and Arabic numerals transfers hark back to WWII, and that’s where the vintage stops, as everything else, from the material of the dial to the case constitute modern high-tech materials and powered by the latest calibre with high tech materials. The all-black aesthetics drive home the element of modernity. 

The Lumicast dial glows in the dark contrasting to the white dial in the light

If you still need further convincing, then this will definitely win you over, The entire dial is luminous and emits a light green glow, and it's completely hypnotic. The Lumicast dial was developed with the pilots from the “Black Aces”, a mixture of SuperLuminova pigments with a binder and later hardened with a special curing process to enable ceramic-like durability. Finally, the dial is adorned with Squadron 41’s emblem at 12 o’clock, a black ace of spade card with ‘41’ against the Spade with a red stripe (the only ‘colour’ on the dial) running diagonally across the card behind it.

The engraving of the Black Aces' fighter jet on the caseback

To complete this black and white handsome beast is the manufacture automatic Calibre 32100 which is encased in an inner soft-iron case, reflecting the original pilot watch need for protection from the antimagnetic activities up in the air and combined with modern technology, The escapement is made of silicon, another antimagnetic material, to further reinforce its protection against even stronger magnetic field emanating from the powerful electronics devices and gadgets we use that surround us today, and it comes with 72 hours of power reserve. The handsome timepiece is secured on your wrist with a black textile strap.

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces

The vintage aesthete cloaked in black gives the watch that mysterious identity which neither dictates a night or day watch. If it were me, would wear it on any and every occasion, and its that versatile, especially at night, of course for the luminosity. It is one of the best-looking black watches on the market today and it’s utterly irresistible, especially if you have a soft spot for black watches, like me. 




A familiar face in Malaysia's horological publishing scene, Leong has been involved in lifestyle journalism since the mid-1990s. Besides watches, he takes a keen interest in cars and men's fashion.

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