I recently got to spend a little time with the latest collaboration piece from Silicon Valley-based Collective Horology — the limited-edition IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “C.03” in the new 41mm case. Collective founders Asher Rapkin and Gabe Reilly cite IWC’s 90s era and, specifically, the IW3706 as their inspiration for the 125-piece limited edition collaboration. The result is a very handsome monochromatic piece that I find to be the most attractive of the brand’s current 41mm steel pilot chrono offerings, and yet I still can’t help but wish they had taken the inspiration even further.
IWC knows it has a hit on its hands with the new, smaller 41mm Pilot’s Chronograph that was introduced earlier this year at Watches & Wonders. We’ve seen quite a few iterations with ceramic cases, but as far as the steel case goes, blue and green are the only dial options at the moment. Well, those and the 125 pieces of the C.03 that will be produced.
Back in 2019, I did a No Longer Made article on the IWC Fliegerchronograph Ref. 3706 (that you can read here), which — while I certainly wasn’t being original by fawning over — is a perfect morsel of what enthusiasts love about post-quartz IWC. A straightforward and reasonably sized monochromatic tool watch, the IW3706 wasn’t perfect by any means. For example, I always found the area around the date window to be .…overstuffed (especially how close the “2” was to the “IWC” text). It also lacked proper AR coating, and the day/date windows didn’t match the dial.
I pick these nits with a watch that has been discontinued for nearly two decades now to point out some ways in which the new pilot’s chrono (and, in turn, the C.03) improves on the 90s classic.
Looking at the IWC C.03, the monochromatic black and light-gray dial is highly legible, and I appreciate the nod to authenticity by having the day display in German. And, while some may gripe about it not being true to the 39mm case on the IW3706, I think the new 41mm case is tastefully sized, just the way it is. Would I have loved to see a squared-off hour hand and a fully brushed case? Yes. Does this two-item wish list take away from the final product in any major way? No, I don’t think so, and if it does for you, then maybe what you actually want is an original IW3706 rather than a contemporary take on it.
Measuring 41mm-wide, 14.5mm-thick, and with a lug-to-lug height of 50mm, the IWC C.03 has 100 meters of water resistance. Turning the case over shows the IWC 69385 calibre, which was introduced for the smaller 41mm case (while the 43mm model uses the 7750-based 79320 calibre). A column-wheel chronograph with a bi-directional pawl winding system, the 69385 operates at 28,800 vph and has a 46-hour power reserve. Unlike the standard production models, the rotor of the C.03 is finished with black nickel-plating for a nice contrasting look.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph C.03 done with the Collective is an attractive and subtle collaboration. In fact, if I were in the market for one of the new 41mm pilot’s chronos, this would be my first choice. Limited to 125-pieces, the watch is priced at $7,150 on the very comfortable and well-made black calfskin strap (also available with the bracelet on request). As Collective is a membership-based collecting club, and those interested in joining and purchasing this watch can do so at collectivehorology.com.