Amazing Replica IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph

The IWC launched a replica watch in early 1990s that’s now considered a typical from the company’s post-Quartz Crisis period: the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph, which was a chronograph watch, heavily modified by the replica IWC’s Richard Habring. The Double Chronograph was the essence of unadorned, functional watch-making – in a substantial, 42mm x 17mm steel case, with a soft iron antimagnetic inner case and a dial strictly oriented towards legibility, it epitomized the no-frills, form-follows-function philosophy that had featured the replica IWC’s approach to instrument watches for decades.
Walt Odets once slyly haracterized the Mark XII as “every non-pilot’s favorite pilot’s watch,” and you could probably say the same about the original Fliegerchronograph – but the key to the success of the originals was that, irrespective of their adoption by professionals, they seemed to really be pilot’s watches, rather than to be illustrations of pilot’s watches. As with many of the classic IWC models from this period in the company’s history over the years, though the basic design has undergone a plethora of changes and variations on the essential theme, the spare design of the original still stands out as the pilot’s chronograph from the replica IWC.
For instrument watch fans, the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph and Pilot’s Chronograph/Flieger chronograph were a very big deal indeed, and they represented, along with the Mark XII, a kind of high water mark for functionally driven watch design – not just from IWC, but for the 1990s in general. Then, the fake IWC announced that an online-only re-issue of the original design – in a larger case, and with ecru lume – was out.
The replica watch looked very promising and indeed, in the metal, it’s an impressive watch, as well as being, for those of us who remember the debut of the originals in the ’90s, a pretty powerful reminder of a time when so many milestones in watch-making were yet to come and when the hobby was still very small scale.
It certainly feels very much like the original as well in many aspects. There’s the same take-it-or-leave-it chunky steel case, a virtually identical dial, the same date display as in the original, and the same distribution of lume. The basic design remains as strong as ever – time and elapsed time information are delivered with all the unambiguous bluntness, which for an instrument watch is exactly as it should be.
I actually don’t have a very clear sense of what it would be like to have a straight re-issue of the original back. The identity of a watch is very context dependent and who knows if how I felt about the replica watch in 1995 would necessarily be what I’d feel in 2019; And being a little too backwards-looking has, historically, been occasionally problematic and sometimes nearly fatal for the European watch industry.

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