IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Watch Review

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Watch Review

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Like many luxury watchmakers these days, the goal of IWC isn't so much about novelty as it is about refinement. Many of the classic watch models and themes we like are evolving slowly in the "Rolex Way," meaning slight improvements over time as opposed to major shifts and spurts of design creativity. This is a good framework for understanding the current generation IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph reference 3777 family of watches refreshed back in 2016. At SIHH 2016 IWC offered some light but highly appreciated revisions for the Pilot's Watch Chronograph collection here. If you are interested in this watch and the various versions available, I recommend you check out that link. For now, I'll proceed to review a timepiece that I think should have a place in a lot of people's collections as a regular wear option.

Sports watches are typically segmented into a few major categories based on the overall theme they are based on. While blending occurs often enough, purists tend to appreciate watches designed for rather specific purposes. To that end, we have the dive watch, the driving watch, and of course the pilot watch. Each of these core types of "activity timepieces" has an incredible variety, but tend to share more things in common with each other than differences. By this, I mean that if you put a lot of pilot watches together on a table, you'll probably see a lot of things in common. In some ways, the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph attempts to be an "elegant average" of what the brand feels you might expect to see in a pilot watch with a chronograph. It's a blend of design themes and styles done together in a way that is balanced, logical, and steeped in actual history. In other words, it is what some people consider to be the formula for a perfect Swiss timepiece.

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

IWC based out of Schaffhausen, Switzerland near the German border is no stranger to pilot watches. I believe that the brand produced them during both world wars, and moved from being a maker of good watches to luxury watches when the industry underwent major change mostly in the 1980s. Today IWC likes to play off of its history as much as it can, and compared to all of the sports watches it makes today (Aquatimer, Ingenieur, etc.) its pilot watches have the most "historic legitimacy."

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

That doesn't tend to matter to me as I am a fan of anyone who makes quality products regardless of their history, but it has benefited IWC in a major way because when compared to their other watches, they seem to be the most comfortable when making pilot watches. It is as though the brand seems to really possess a strong grasp of what goes into a decent pilot watch, which makes their timepieces feel authentic from a design perspective, and comfortable when on the wrist. In other words, out of the many brands that make aviator watches, IWC aviator watches are among the few that really seem to feel comfortable in their own skin.

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

You can spend a lot of money on an IWC pilot watch as well. Opt for fancy in-house movements and precious case materials and you'll be spending very big bucks quickly. With that said, my own personal appreciation of their pilot watches is actually a lot more on the entry-level side where I think you get a good deal along with a good design. The most entry-level of IWC's pilot watches (for men) is actually just called the Pilot's Watch, and in its current Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII form (hands-on here) you get a very sensible 40mm wide watch that will serve you well for a long time. Its a great watch, but its just a bit too small and simple to pull at many Western men's heartstrings when it comes to being a "man's sports watch." For $1,000 more you get into Pilot's Watch Chronograph territory that maintains a simple and functional demeanor, but in a slightly larger case with a more intricate dial that "tool watch guys" have voted with their wallets to love time and time again.

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Let's also distinguish between the IWC Pilot's Watch collection and the Big Pilot's Watch collection. In addition to the latter being larger and containing an in-house IWC movement, it is also much more expensive. The IWC Big Pilot's Watch on a strap costs more than two and half times the price of the Pilot's Watch Chronograph. I'm not here to talk about the relative value of the two watches, but it is obvious that a watch priced at about $13,000 isn't going to be open to the same people who buy watches priced at about $5,000. The bottom line is that the Big Pilot's Watch collection and the Pilot's Watch collection essentially serve two very different consumer demographics.

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

At 43mm wide and 15mm thick in steel, the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph wears large, but very comfortably. It is no doubt masculine in proportions, but fails to look overly-sized, which is a good thing. IWC did a good job to emphasize the size of the dial by keeping the bezel thin, and making sure that the primary function of the device (to tell the time) is effortless thanks to the correct choice of textures on the dial and the high contrast between the face and the markers/hands.

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

In a way I could probably recommend the dial of the IWC Pilot's Watch Chronograph to students wanting to understand effective watch dial design because there is so much being done properly here. IWC pulls from decades of history and design culture just among pilot watches to come up with something classic (even if it looks a bit generic at times). Whatever IWC lacks in pure brand DNA character in a watch like this, they make up for in emulating a desirable look in a way that, in most instances, bests the competition. I say this with love, but right now IWC makes one of the best generic pilot watch dials around - and that is saying a lot because so many are seemingly trying.

What do you think?
  • Thumbs up (45)
  • I want it! (31)
  • I love it! (18)
  • Interesting (15)
  • Classy (14)
  • IG

    Pilots of good taste don’t wear 7750 movt. watches.

  • Mikita
  • Raymond Wilkie
  • I appreciate the micro-adjustment on the bracelet – but not ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS worth though. And red on the running seconds is an odd choice for a chronograph. I would have prefer to have the time day hands one color and the chronograph hands another (assuming you are going to use 2 colors). Not a bad watch but still not a bargain and while it may be a bellweather standard for a generic pilots watch, in the end it is generic and that doesn’t do it for me. I prefer watches with at least a hint of unique personality.

    • SuperStrapper
      • Oh that’s right. I should have learned the lesson from AP and PP with the RO and Nautilus that stainless steel is a precious metal. Is “BRO” like Rolex 904? A special grade for manly friends?

        • Mikita

          Bronium is second to only Yo-bronium.

        • IG

          It’s higher grade than STAINLESS STEEL – DUDE

          • How does it compare to “MANO” grade”? BTW – we have a similar grade to “BRO” here in Hawaii. It’s called “BRA” but it’s essentially the same thing.

  • SuperStrapper

    I don’t believe this watch has ever actually looked ‘right’ on a bracelet. This is totally a strap watch.

  • R Khalifa

    Not a fan of the comic-sans-esque chubby numerals, and some of the other details already mentioned by commenters

    • IG

      Rounded line ends don’t make them Comic Sans-esque, you have to draw them drunk for that.

  • Wally

    As owner of this watch I have to say that this is a very nice review, bringing the lights to details that make this watch very much enjoyable on the wrist, versatile and a good choice for people getting closer to the Swiss watch industry offering.
    Price is undoubtedly high, any kind of sense it does when speaking of luxury goods, but I think it is something you get when you want a watch most part of which are manufactured in Switzerland.
    I know for instance that the bracelet, which makes 40% of the watch pleasure, has a very high price, but for sure (I know the manufacturer) it is also 100% Swiss made and hand finished.
    Taking into consideration cost of labor and the multiplying factor of these luxury companies, it is hard to think to a much lower price, like other well known brand charge for they “Swiss made” bracelet.

    Very nice watch and one of the best seller for IWC, beside its marvelous Le Petit Prince edition.

  • Phil leavell

    At the present point in time I am collecting field watches and aviators this is a fine example of what I like. But there’s no way I’d pay the price for that they want for this watch

  • BNABOD

    No doubt nicely made but this is a strap only watch, the bracelet looks silly on it to be perfectly honest.
    Anyhow this must be IWC’s cash cow because while it is nice there isn’t anything there that sure that should spell 6gs. I have handled a few and while cool they are priced very high for what you get. No beveling on the lugs , no movement upgrade, zip nada and yes while a workhorse dependable and serviceable it ain’t sexy…..

  • TheChuphta

    This is an excellent, classic watch, but I have the same problem with it that I do with many IWC pilot watches; I don’t see the cost justification. When you can pick this up for well under a grand, the IWC seems like a tough sell to me.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1e44ed86a71133a0940ff1f371e216e48f5ba56d7065d09ca595e6a493e04778.jpg

    • cluedog12

      Doesn’t look like Hamilton used a tiny movement for a big dial because Hamilton has quietly cemented itself as an honest brand with quality watches.

      IWC has some bang-on watches like the Big Pilot, but way too much of this reactionary fashion stuff to be regarded with reverence IMHO.

  • Word Merchant

    As SupperStrapper wrote, this watch isn’t a bracelet watch at all, so I shall immediately dismiss the ugly bracelet with its ludicrous price, because no-one in their right mind would consider it. So what’s left? A rather generic, but well-finished watch, sporting a rough old movement that should’ve been put out to pasture a while ago (cheap old movements like this are affectionally known as ‘workhorses’, especially when they are placed in expensive watches).

    The good thing with this watch is that, apart from losing 40% of its value the second you walk away with it, it’s a safe enough buy, and it probably won’t suffer the accuracy problems that have plagued IWC’s own movements. The bad thing is with this watch is that it’s so dull: even when it’s well photographed in nice lighting, it induces catatonia in 87% of all people who see it.

    So would I buy one? God no. Is it offensive? Not at all. But is it interesting? Probably only to accountants and auditors.

  • TrevorXM

    Those are some very cool features for a bracelet.

    • proudAmerican702

      +1. These days I find myself turning away from any metal bracelet that doesn’t have a micro-adjustment feature. The bracelet on my CF Bucherer Scubatec has the feature, and I couldn’t live w/o it.

  • Marius

    Although the IWC Big Pilot’s has always been my favourite pilots watch, I never really liked the chronograph reference. The main reason for that is the 7750, which in my opinion, has an ugly architecture, is loud & rattly like a rattle snake, and has very stiff chrono actuators.

    Nevertheless, despite the fact that I’m not terribly fond of this watch, I have to admit that this IWC is a decent value offering. $4,900 is not a ridiculously-high price for a pilots watch with a great heritage & history, and produced by a prestigious brand such as IWC. Also, the overall quality of this watch is quite good.

    Furthermore, if you look at the competition, you will see that IWC priced this watch in line (actually a bit less) with its competitors. For instance, Bremont and Bell&Ross charge over $6,000 for their ETA-equipped chronographs. In my opinion, IWC`s serious rivals would be the Tudor Chronograph with the B01 movement, and the Zenith Pilots Tone-Up featuring the El Primero caliber. However, I find the design of the Tudor to be rather generic & boring, whereas the Zenith is a great watch, but it’s slightly more expensive than the IWC (retail price is around $7,000), and its design is quite eccentric, so it will be less versatile than the IWC.

    • Chaz

      “Heritage” is a word that needs to be used with a bit more restraint when it comes to watches these days.

      Was funny to see IWC eagerly jump on the three-date-window & gargantuan proportions (along with price) bandwagon and have it bite them in the ass, forcing them to retreat with tail between legs back to reality.

    • BNABOD

      good news is you can get one 2nd hand for 3.5Gs that has seen an hour of wrist time.

    • Phil leavell

      Face and buddy. It’s overpriced Antiquated movement wrist turd box six gets the vote. Puff pontificate and posture all you want your shares of this company you own are going down in value.

      • Marius

        I’m sorry, but I don’t understand your broken and approximate English. My advice for you would be to dedicate less time to this blog, and instead, invest your time in grammar lessons.

        • Phil leavell

          I apologize for my poor grammar. I am severely dyslexic. And use the voice mode on my phone so if there’s grammar punctuation and spelling mistakes I wouldn’t have a clue. Sorry for spending so much time on the blog I am recently retired most the time I really enjoy your comments on the blog other times I would just wish for you to remove your thumb from your ass and let a little air escape from your head. Please come back down to earth I’m sure you’re a great person and a decent human being. I was never all that and a bag of chips. But I’m sure you could give me insight to that world feel free to contact me have a great day

          • Marius

            I’m truly sorry to hear about your problem. I hope my comment didn’t offend you.

          • Phil leavell

            God no no apologies necessary I think we both have thicker skin than that. And I think you as well as I can have fun here no room for bleeding hearts and if by chance we meet I’ll buy you a beer. Or a good Scott which I prefer over beer take care

        • Phil leavell

          Sorry I have to add a PS. You do know what hard work is don’t you. working for the betterment to contribute to society in a positive manner. Earning money from the sweat of your brow not off the backs of others

  • They’ve lost the Bauhaus austerity of the older Flieger models for the fake-retro look that started with the Spitfire. I can’t recommend this watch over a Speedmaster, which is quite sad.

    • egznyc

      I don’t own a Speedy (yet) but why does it make you sad? Do you have issues with the Speedmaster?

      • What’s sad is that IWC stagnated or even regressed with the fake-retro design while Omega progressed with its co-axial movements. The IWC Flieger line used to be a cut above the Speedy, but that’s no longer the case.

        • egznyc

          Okay, I follow you. Yes, the new Speedmaster co-axial movements are pretty cool, though the original Moonwatch is iconic. I like Omega’s risk-taking regarding the co-axial escapements in general, although I think they could work on eliminating the thickness of these movements.

  • My all time favorite traditional chronograph. And sorry guys, but it much better on the bracelet (which is one of the best in the industry). And no, I’m not a auditor. I wish they would bring the case diameter down a couple millimeters.

  • awildermode

    Ooh, I like that fancy bracelet.

  • I don’t like the shop of the hands. The shoulder of the sword should be further toward the point, as on the Omega 2234.50, or used the simple batons of the earlier “Mark” iterations (e.g. Mk XII). They just look…awkward.

  • Garrett Hu

    Hello Ariel, thanks for the great review. How do you compare this version of the 3777 versus the 3717? Which do you like better? My opinion is the slightly larger 43mm case versus the 42mm 3717 makes the Day/Date placement slightly too close to the center of the dial which gives me the feeling that the case to too large for the movement. They have done a great job in enlarging the sub dials to compensate but the Day/Date placement gives it away. Thoughts?

  • BOT

    MEH watch! very average and looking cheap

  • commentator bob

    No wonder people would rather work for Breitling. What a lame, overpriced watch that Laco, Stowa, Sinn, Hamilton and Steinhart all do better or as well for less money.

    Jeez, for this money I would at least expect the classic 3-6-9 ETA 7753 register layout instead of the bargain basement 6-9-12 ETA 7750 layout. Hamilton offers that for way less.

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/44c33f5700cf37e1858fe7b001ec5301595d645e8e497c774f452ed11216fc0d.jpg

    Not to mention that the classic, must own, Man on the Moon Speedmaster Professional can be had for the same or less money, as pointed out below.

    • egznyc

      Good points. I don’t actually love the Hamilton you reference, but they’re a great brand and so are the others you mention (though I’ve never seen a Steinhart in person). Yep, I’d rather have a Moonwatch! (Not that I dislike the IWC; it’s just overpriced IMO – but the bracelet looks to be high quality, though, again, way overpriced.)

      • commentator bob

        Steinhart makes really good Swiss Made watches. A lot of them are Rolex homages, which I am ambivalent toward, but they also sell generic pilot watches. The chronograph below, with the same ETA 7750 movement as this IWC, sells for $905. It actually has some nicer features than this IWC, like blued hands.

        https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d21a6dda21b48955e72ab3839dce8bfdad0713487523efa6c62d3d129e0ff277.jpg

        • egznyc

          Looks very respectable for the price! The only real issue I see is that it’s only 30M WR. And 16mm thick! Yeah not so atypical but still … Is the bracelet good? Have you owned this one?

          • commentator bob

            This IWC is 15 MM, it is hard to make a thin 7750 watch.

            There are lot of options for a 7750 powered generic pilot watch. Laco, Fortis, Sinn, Stowa, Fortis, Hamilton. Steinhart is just one to consider.

            I would not pay more than $1,500 for a 7750 powered watch. Because you don’t have to. And because while it is a solid movement, the 6-9-12 register layout is inferior and its operation is rough.

            For more than $1,500 a watch should at least use the better 7753 version of the movement, with a 3-6-9 layout. Longiness makes nice versions that are upgraded with column wheels, and Tudor makes nice ceramic case versions. Both cost less than this IWC with the inferior 6-9-12 layout.

            For what this watch costs or less you can get a MUCH better (from a prestige, historical and mechanical perspective) Omega Speedmaster Professional (the more expensive sapphire version) or a Zenith El Primero.

  • egznyc

    I’d consider this a reasonable deal if it were $2K – on a bracelet. Of course, it looks better on a strap, but the bracelet would be nice if I were ever to take it swimming. Oh wait: it’s not even 100m WR … darn!

  • benjameshodges

    Great review. The 2016 overhaul of the Pilots range was the best thing IWC could have ever done. Superb execution.

  • cluedog12

    Looks like a blown up version of the IWC 3706. Lots of improvements in materials and function compared to the 1990’s version, but the older sibling didn’t have a dial that looked value engineered.

    Have been seeing this kind of crap for at least a decade now. I’ll get off my high horse now.

  • Aditya

    Ariel this is a very nice review. The new line up of Pilots chrono are very impressive. In LPP avatar, they are the first watch from IWC in a long time that is worth considering. The pricing is also spot on. Before people bite my head off for saying the pricing is spot on, please remember that IWC are going to replace all 7750 with their in-house 69370 sooner rather than later. Chances are, these will be the last watches that will get the upgrade(?) and I get the sense that IWC will leave the pricing as is. They couldn’t possible have priced it any cheaper from a strategic sense. They’re not looking to compete with Sinn, Damasko or any other 7750 driven watches out there. At a reasonable discount, this watch is easily worth the premium over Sinn or Damasko to me. The only tool I really need in life is a fancy knife to open cartons and a hardly broken in tool set for DIY around the house. I like my tool watches to have a bit of bling. The only Pilots Chrono I’d consider over this is the Breguet type XXI; but then that is at another price point altogether. More my personality though. And I still may acquire the IWC before the Breguet.