The IWC Pilot’s Watch Gets a Full-Lume Dial

Monochromatic black-and-white with a ceramic case.

Soon after unveiling the Big Pilot perpetual calendar in white ceramic, IWC is introducing the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 “Black Aces”. While retaining the customary dial layout of the model, the “Black Aces” sports a fully-luminous dial – a first for the brand. The watch gets it name from the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 41 “Black Aces”, which collaborated with IWC on the watch’s key design elements.

Initial thoughts 

The recent Top Gun watches with coloured ceramic cases have been bestsellers for IWC, though most have been complicated and pricier models. Hence, it is rather pleasing to see IWC do something with the entry-level Pilot’s Watch by giving it a simple yet appealing twist. 

Instead a run-of-the-mill dial colour, the “Black Aces” gets a lume dial that’s novel for IWC. The full-lume dial, however, is not new to watchmaking, with several brands having such dials for several years now, including Bell & Ross with its pilot’s watches. Beyond the colour, the military provenance and “Black Aces” emblem gives the watch a tangible military link that many of IWC’s fans will like. 

Notably, this watch contains the cal. 32100. I would have preferred the cal. 32111 that was used in the new Ingenieur instead. Both are essentially the same calibre, but the latter is a higher-spec version of the movement with a longer power reserve of 120 hours, as opposed the 72 hours of the cal. 32100. 

This movement was presumably used because of the lack of a date, so as to keep the price relatively affordable, which is a fair tradeoff. The “Black Aces” is priced at CHF7,200, just CHF500 more than the standard Pilot’s Watch Automatic Top Gun that has the same ceramic case. While the minimal price difference makes this a logical choice over the regular model, the different movement is a consideration.

An ace among the rest

The “Black Aces” is the latest addition to the brand’s stable of pilot’s watches made for military squadrons or institutions. It shares the same case as the standard Top Gun model, which is 41 mm and ceramic.

Named after Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41) stationed in Lemoore, California that’s known as the “Black Aces”. The squadron’s insignia, the ace of spades, sits at six on the dial.

The focal point is the stark white dial that is covered in Super-Luminova. It’s created through a “curing process” starting with Super-Luminova pigment mixed with a binder. The resulting mixture is applied to the soft-iron dial blank, following by stamping the indices and markings. As a result, the entire dial is luminous in low light, creating an inverse effect compared to conventional dials with luminous markings.

The case is identical to that of the Pilot’s Watch Top Gun. Measuring 41 mm in diameter and 11.4 mm high, the case has a solid back depicting the F/A-18E/F “Super Hornet” flown by the “Black Aces”. Under the back is the cal. 32100, an in-house automatic movement with the double pawl “Pellaton” winding system and a power reserve of 72 hours. 

Key facts and price

IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 “Black Aces”
Ref. IW326905

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 11.4 mm
Material: Ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 60 m

Movement: Cal. 32100
Functions: Hours, minutes and central hacking seconds
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: 72 hours

Strap: Fabric strap with pin buckle

Limited edition: No
Availability: Available only at
Price: CHF7,200

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