IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”.
Image: Supplied

Over 50% of the consumers surveyed for the Deloitte Swiss Watch Industry Study 2020 look at a brand’s green credentials to inform their purchasing decisions. This is particularly evident among millennials and Gen-Z, who are known to be conscious consumers, the study shows.

IWC Schaffhausen has been a leading light among a small but steadily growing number of luxury watch brands implementing more responsible practices and committed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). IWC was also the first Swiss brand to publish a sustainability report in line with Global Reporting Initiative standards. The results of IWC’s efforts so far include a reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions by 10% and a reduction in the average weight and volume of its packaging by 30%. The company recently announced that it had attained Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certification from the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC), which complements the RJC Code of Practices to which IWC already adheres. The CoC certifies that the gold and platinum used in the company’s supply chain are fully traceable and responsibly sourced as part of its goal in providing a measurable roadmap of action on their journey to achieving the 17 SDGs, and thereby ensuring respect for human rights, labour rights, environmental protection, and full product disclosure.

In March, IWC also unveiled new TimberTex straps, made from a low-impact paper-based material. Unlike synthetic leathers, which are often plastic or petroleum-based, the material is composed of 80% natural plant fibres and is said to have a luxurious, soft texture.

IWC TimberTex straps.
IWC TimberTex straps.
Image: Supplied

The new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705” is not made from fair-trade gold or platinum but a more contemporary material called Ceratanium that is tougher and, if anything, more eco-friendly by virtue of its longevity. This special edition was created in honour of the legendary ceramic “Black Flieger” chronograph (ref 3705) from 1994, which only more recently developed a cult following. The ref 3705 was ahead of its time in material and design, but consumers were skeptical of ceramic back then, so after a short run of four years and around 1,000 pieces, production was stopped. This makes the ref 3705 quite rare and, with better understanding of the qualities of zirconium-oxide ceramic, it has become highly collectable. When it comes to ceramic watches, Rado is the brand that springs to mind but IWC was among the first to put a ceramic watch into regular production with its 1986 IWC Da Vinci (ref 3755).

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tribute to 3705”.
Image: Supplied

The ref 3705 not only demonstrates IWC’s heritage as a manufacturer of professional instrument watches for aviators but, with its black ceramic case, the model is also another example of the company’s materials expertise acquired since the 1980s.

While the Tribute watch faithfully replicates the dial design of the original, its case material is updated from ceramic to striking matte-black Ceratanium, which combines the advantages of titanium and ceramic in a single material. Based on a titanium alloy, it is as light and rigid as titanium but as hard, wear-free and scratch-resistant as ceramic.

The original timepiece was no doubt the inspiration for the black ceramic and Ceratanium pilots’ watches in IWC’s Top Gun series first launched in 2012. It now includes the 44.5mm Chronograph Top Gun, Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium, and the 2020 Edition “SFTI” — the civilian version of the “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” watch that is only available to Navy Fighter Weapons School (Topgun) graduates. These watches go through hours of rigorous testing so that they are able to withstand the high G-forces experienced during the extreme manoeuvres in supersonic jets. The Tribute shares their tactical look and ability as well as the automatic in-house 69380 calibre, which beats inside its slightly larger 41mm case (the original was 39mm). Chronograph pushers and the pin buckle on its black calfskin strap are also made of Ceratanium.

The Tribute is also well timed, with the growing interest in pilots’ watches around the anticipated Top Gun: Maverick movie now set for release in July. The special edition is limited to 1,000 pieces and is available exclusively on iwc.com at approximately R210,000.

 From the April edition of Wanted, 2021.

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