Introducing the IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 AMG
An unusual IWC pilot’s watch featuring an external bezel designed for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team
Fans of both cars and watches would certainly appreciate the IWC clocks incorporated into Mercedes AMG models, a result of a collaboration between these two industry giants that commenced in 2004 and has now spanned nearly two decades. Notably, in 2013, IWC elevated its involvement by becoming the engineering partner for the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team. In the current year, this partnership marks its 10th anniversary.
Over the past couple of years, we’ve witnessed interesting developments in limited edition timepieces arising from this partnership. One notable example is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph ref. IW388108, which served as the team’s official watch last year. It features an unconventional dial and a strap adorned with generous splashes of bright green.
This year, perfectly timed with the Las Vegas Formula One Grand Prix, IWC has introduced two distinctive versions of its renowned Pilot’s Watch Chronograph, exclusively designed for their partner, the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One team.
Named the Performance Chronograph 41 AMG, the latest features an unconventional ceramic bezel, setting it apart from the standard plain bezel. These new models are available in either titanium or Ceratanium, complete with a matching material bracelet.
Tailoring the IWC Pilot’s Watch for Motorsport
Given that the IWC Pilot’s watch was not originally intended for motorsport applications, the latest AMG edition necessitates some modifications to adapt to the demands of the racetrack. Consequently, the watchmaker has incorporated an external bezel with a ceramic insert, engraved with a tachymeter scale. This feature enables the wearer to calculate average speed in relation to the distance covered, giving rise to a new model christened the Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 AMG.
While the bezel design is a novel addition, the dial retains the fundamental aesthetics of the existing Pilot’s Watch Chronograph, preserving the lineage’s core identity. The familiar triple sub-dial arrangement at 12, 6, and 9 o’clock remains, along with the day and date indicators at 3 o’clock.
Nonetheless, the watch’s overall appearance takes on a wholly distinct character, despite the shared dial design, owing to the transformative impact of the bezel insert. This alteration lends the timepiece a more contemporary and, perhaps, colder aesthetic. That said, in the eyes of traditionalists, this may appear somewhat unexpected.
You can choose between two dial options: one maintains the classic black and white palette, while the other retains the same color scheme but incorporates subtle accents of vibrant green. This striking green shade is borrowed from the corporate color of Petronas, the Malaysian oil and gas company that partners with Mercedes-AMG in Formula One racing. The incorporation of this bright green, although reminiscent of previous Formula One editions, is executed here in a more understated manner, making it an attractive choice for collectors seeking a more subtle style.
Each of the two dial o¬¬ptions is paired with a specific case material: the classic black and white dial is complemented by a titanium case, while the green-accented dial is matched with a black Ceratanium case, a material made from a sintered blend of ceramic and titanium. According to IWC, this in-house Ceratanium material combines the lightness of titanium with the scratch resistance similar to ceramic.
A refined bracelet
Another distinctive feature of the Performance Chronograph is its bracelet, a departure from the typical five-link design found on the brand’s Pilot’s Watch. In its place, the bracelet features an H-shaped brushed link and a substantial, domed polished center link, identical to the bracelet found in the more formal Portugieser collection. This choice of bracelet exudes a more refined and dressier aesthetic compared to the utilitarian five-link design, aligning perfectly with the contemporary look of the ceramic bezel on the Performance Chronograph.
Notably, mirroring the case options, the bracelet is available in two materials: titanium or Ceratanium. The choice of pairing a Ceratanium case with a Ceratanium bracelet stands out as the more remarkable of the two, not only due to the rarity of a Ceratanium bracelet within IWC’s collection but also because the all-black aesthetic exudes a modern, cooler vibe, especially when combined with the vibrant green accents on the dial.
Inside the watch is the brand’s cal. 69385, which replaces the ETA or Valjoux 7750 movement found in earlier Pilot’s Watch Chronographs. Cal. 69385 differs from its predecessor in technical aspects, having been upgraded with features such as a column wheel to control the start, stop, and reset functions of the chronograph. The layout and finishing of the movement’s components have also been enhanced to reflect the brand’s engineering prowess. That said, both the old and new movements have a relatively short power reserve, with cal. 69385 having a running time of 46 hours.
It’s interesting to see this unusual variation of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph, with the addition of an external ceramic tachymeter bezel, a first in the series. This is sure to pique the interest of collectors looking for an IWC Pilot’s Watch that stands out and serves as a conversation starter.
With that in mind, it’s essential to acknowledge the departure from the familiar and functional design of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph. The incorporation of a ceramic bezel and modifications to the watch’s proportions introduce a modern and somewhat colder aesthetic. While this undeniably bestows a distinctive character upon the timepiece, it may also signify a shift away from its traditional charm.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41
Movement: Calibre 69385; automatic; 46 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, day, date, and chronograph
Case: 41.1mm x 14.8mm; titanium or Ceratanium; water resistant to 100m
Strap: Black rubber strap, titanium bracelet, or Ceratanium bracelet
Limited edition: No
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