I appreciate this time of year: the devices, the equipment, the food, the festivities, and, of course, the latest statements. And there is one model that never fails to excite during this joyous season is a replica IWC, with the Schaffhausen manufacturer growing up for 2019 with the starts of what looks like another amazing year for the Pilot’s fake watch.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition is the first flight off the deck. Dedicated to the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project, which next year will find a nicely restored Supermarine Spitfire take off from London, covering more than 43,000 kilometres over several months on a round-the-world flight.
As fans of the IWC replicas, the regular readers will know that this isn’t the first model to bear the Spitfire, or for that matter, the Timezoner name. And this version is based on a chronograph we first saw back in the past two years. However, this is the very first to combine IWC’s patented Timezoner mechanism with a completely in-house made IWC movement – the calibre 82760 with automatic Pellaton winding, ceramic components, and a 60-hour power reserve. Basically, the watch is a three-handed Pilot’s replica watches with a 24-hour display in the top half of the dial, a date at 3 o’clock, and a world time bezel. This bezel automatically adjusts the hour hand, 24-hour display, and the date, to the corresponding city’s time zone as marked at 12 o’clock only when rotated.
The engraved case-back combines with a sapphire crystal front that is secured against displacement by drops in air pressure, to offer 60 meters of water resistance. The stainless-steel case measures 46mm across by 15.2mm high and combines with a black dial and a green textile band to remind you of the color scheme inside the cockpit of its namesake aircraft. However, the version is very much limited in quantity.
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.
We have introduced so many Rolex watches with automatic movement. After all, the “Oyster Perpetual” label given to most of Rolex’s models refers to the waterproof Oyster case and the perpetual (automatic) movement. However, the Swiss watch-making giant was not immune to the so-called “Quartz Crisis” of the sixties, seventies and eighties. As a matter of fact, the replica Rolex most definitely jumped on the technology bandwagon. Let’s get a closer look at the vintage Oyster quartz Datejust Rolex watch and discuss why Rolex produced a handful of quartz watches.
While today many watch fans look at quartz watches with disdain, in the 1960s this technology was heralded as a significant innovation in the industry. Actually, 20 top Swiss watchmakers, including the likes of replica Patek Philippe, Omega, and Rolex, joined forces to establish Centre Electronique Horloger (CEH) consortium with the objective to create a Swiss quartz movement they could all use. The result was the Beta-21 quartz movement introduced in 1969.
The Rolex produced this luxury model to house the new movement. However, it wasn’t long before Rolex decided that they could make an even better quartz caliber in-house and the company abandoned the CEH in 1972. After five years of intense research and development, Rolex finally unveiled a pair of manufacture quartz calibers: Caliber 5035 for the Oyster-quartz Datejust and the Caliber 5055 for the Oyster-quartz Day-Date. While the Oyster-quartz Day-Date replica watches were available in yellow and white gold, the Oyster-quartz Datejust collection provides a choice of full stainless steel, stainless steel with a white gold bezel, and two-tone yellow gold and stainless steel—like we see here.
Like all Oyster-quartz Datejust watches, the fake model features an outstanding angular case and an integrated bracelet. We’ve seen this familiar shape before, as it was the must-have silhouette of the 1970s, first introduced by Audemars Piguet with their groundbreaking Gerald Genta-designed Royal Oak sports watch.
Different from the other Oyster-quartz Datejust watches, however, the Rolex includes 18k yellow gold details. To begin with, there’s the fluted yellow gold bezel on top of the 36mm case along with the yellow gold winding crown. This is followed by two yellow gold links threading through the Jubilee-style integrated steel bracelet. We have to mention that while on paper the Oyster-quartz Datejust case measures 36mm, it wears larger thanks to its angular design. All this comes together for a great retro Rolesor Rolex fake watch that is oh-so seventies glam.
One of the first things you’ll notice if you wear a replica Rolex Oyster-quartz is how loud it ticks—particularly compared to its mechanical movement powered siblings. This is of course owing to the quartz caliber working away within the case.