October 17, 2021
Although the brand’s beloved line of $1 toy cars may not seem like the most obvious candidate for a luxury watch brand partnership at first glance, Mattel’s Hot Wheels series has been a gateway into the automotive world for millions of children across the globe for generations. With this level of cultural power behind it, IWC’s latest partnership for its in-house IWC Racing motorsports team has the potential to garner global attention for the organization as it competes for the prestigious Stirling Moss Trophy with a classic Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing at the famed Goodwood Member’s Meeting vintage race. To celebrate this new collaboration, IWC has announced a special limited edition variant of its cornerstone Pilot’s Watch Chronograph with playful nods to the wild sporty spirit of Hot Wheels. The new limited-run IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works” offers a uniquely adventurous take on the generally conservative Pilot’s Watch Chronograph formula, paired with an exclusive 1/64-scale Hot Wheels replica of the team’s Mercedes-Benz race car, which is both the most detailed and one of the rarest Hot Wheels cars ever created.
The 43mm matte blasted titanium case of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works” should be familiar to fans of the brand. All of the line’s hallmarks are here, including the narrow sloped bezel, long tapering sporty lugs, and the series’ distinctive inverted chronograph pushers. IWC sets this version apart from the standard model with two bespoke elements, however. The first (and likely most controversial) of these is the engraved Hot Wheels flame emblem on the 9 o’clock case side. Case side engravings are divisive elements among enthusiasts at the best of times, and IWC’s decision to fully embrace its partnership with a toy brand and announce it in this way will surely rile up more conservative members of the watch community. By contrast, the inclusion of IWC Racing’s “meatball” number roundel on the sapphire display caseback gives the watch a racy charm in initial images. For such a sporting design, however, water resistance remains underwhelming here with only a 60-meter rating.
Without a doubt, the dial of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works” is its greatest departure from the standard model. The warped checkered flag pattern in black and gray on the main dial surface gives the design a sense of dynamic movement and speed in images, and livens up the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph’s function-forward layout with a more custom look. It’s the grooved checkerboard texture that gives this design its greatest visual intrigue in photos, however, and should make for a fascinating effect in changing light. The rest of the design is more or less carried over from the rest of the series, but the use of pale gray lume for the familiar flieger hands, bold scales, and rounded Arabic numerals gives the design a low-contrast, aggressive feel.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works” is powered by the recently released in-house IWC 69385 automatic chronograph movement. Although it shares a design lineage and a visual similarity with the ubiquitous Valjoux 7750, the 69385 is a thoroughly different and far more advanced powerplant, with technical refinements including a column wheel chronograph actuation system. Performance for the 69385 is also a slight improvement over the 7750, with a 46 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Although partially obscured by the printed emblem on the display window, the finishing on the 69385 is also impressive, with perlage across the base plate, an oversized exposed column wheel, and deep sunburst finishing on the cutout rotor.
IWC pairs the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works” with a unique black nylon NATO strap featuring a central racing stripe in silver in reference to IWC Racing’s 300 SL Gullwing racing livery. This fabric strap reinforces the design’s casual sporty nature in images, and should provide both comfort and hard-wearing durability. Also included with the watch is an exclusive Hot Wheels replica of IWC Racing’s Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing race car. The brand claims this is the most detailed 1/64 scale car Hot Wheels has ever created, with opening gullwing doors, and fine highlights raging down to the silver bolts along the rocker panels and three-pointed star reinforcement for the clear plastic headlights.
With a playfully sporting character inspired by the world’s most famous toy cars, the limited IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “IWC x Hot Wheels Racing Works” is one of the most distinctive and adventurous racing-themed IWC chronographs to date. Only 50 examples of the watch will be made. The first example is being auctioned online through Bonhams from October 16 to October 22, 2021, with proceeds benefitting the charitable Two Bit Circus Foundation. The remaining 49 units are available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $10,000. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.