IWC Releases the Navy-Inspired Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 'Black Aces'

The special edition timepiece stands out with a fully luminous dial, a first for the brand; it is born of a highly sophisticated manufacturing process
IWC Releases the Navy-Inspired Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 'Black Aces'
August 29, 2023
IWC Releases the Navy-Inspired Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 'Black Aces'

IWC Schaffhausen has launched the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 ‘Black Aces’. This timepiece is influenced by IWC’s partnership with US Navy squadrons. The fully luminous white dial, a first for the brand, is the watch's standout feature. Composed of a solid disc infused with Super-LumiNova®, the dial radiates a bright greenish luminescence in low-light conditions, achieving nocturnal visibility.

Decades of Aeronautical Excellence

With over 80 years of expertise in designing cockpit instruments, IWC has honed its capabilities through continuous engagement with professional pilots, enabling engineers to understand aviators' demands. The Professional Pilot’s Watches Programme, born of the US Navy partnership, showcases IWC's dedication to crafting specialised timepieces for fast jet pilots. The Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces (Ref. IW326905) is a prime example of this; it is inspired by IWC's collaboration with Strike Fighter Squadron 41 (VFA-41), known as the “Black Aces”. This squadron, stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California, dates back to 1950 and serves as the muse for this exceptional timepiece.

Elegant Craftsmanship

The outer part of the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces showcases the application of black zirconium oxide ceramic, a material IWC introduced to the watchmaking industry in the 1980s. Known for its hardness, second only to diamonds on the Vickers scale, ceramic is considered one of Earth's most robust substances. Its lightweight properties, durability, and resistance to scratches make it an ideal choice for the watch's case, which must endure the confined environment of a jet cockpit. The matte black hue of the ceramic case ensures that sunlight reflection doesn't disturb pilots. The caseback, constructed from lightweight titanium, is adorned with an engraving that depicts the “Black Aces” twin-engine jet, set against a spade motif.

At the heart of the watch lies the luminescent white Lumicast dial, a product of the collaboration with the Black Aces pilots. The dial is the outcome of a sophisticated manufacturing process that involves blending high-grade Super-LumiNova® pigments with a binder. This mixture is cast into a circular mould and subjected to a unique curing process, bestowing ceramic-like durability upon the material. The resultant solid disc is then affixed to the soft-iron dial blank. The dial is further embellished with black indices, numerals, and the ‘Black Aces’ patch, resembling the ace of spades. During testing, conducted in a dark chamber, the dial exhibited a radiant green glow for more than 23 hours, achieving legibility and nocturnal visibility.

The Science Behind Super-LumiNova®

Super-LumiNova® represents the pinnacle of high-tech ceramic compounds, functioning like a light storage battery. Illumination from natural or artificial light triggers electrons within the material to enter an elevated energy state, wherein they retain this energy. When these electrons revert to their original state, they release the absorbed energy as visible light, resulting in the material's luminescence in darkness. This cycle of light absorption and emission can be repeated infinitely without compromising the material's longevity or light storage capacity.

Movement and Endurance

Driving the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces is the IWC-manufactured 32100 calibre movement. Its anti-magnetic silicone escapement, combined with the soft-iron inner case, fortifies the watch's resilience against magnetic fields. The efficient double pawl winding system contributes to a 72-hour power reserve in the mainspring. The watch is complemented by a black textile strap, equipped with a pin buckle, made from sand-blasted stainless steel.

The Pilot’s Watch Automatic 41 Black Aces is exclusively available for purchase online at Furthermore, this timepiece qualifies for enrollment in the My IWC care programme, offering an extended six-year period on top of the standard two-year international limited warranty.

Image Credits: IWC Schaffhausen