Since 2018, IWC has been licensed to produce watches for the US Navy and Marine Corps aviation units, including Blue Angels, and the 247 active and 100 inactive squadrons. IWC has since collaborated with more than a dozen squadrons to create special editions that are exclusively available to present and former members.
Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen, while explaining the importance of IWC’s military programme, said: “It is an important platform for our engineers and designers to exchange ideas with elite pilots from the US Navy and other armed forces around the world. These pilots put our watches to the test every day in the harsh environment of the jet cockpit. Their feedback is invaluable for us not only to improve the quality and durability of our timepieces but also to create unique and appealing designs,” explains.
This year marks the 75th founding anniversary of the “Blue Angels” US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron in 1946, as envisioned by the then Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
As part of their celebrations, the squadron invited actor and IWC brand ambassador Glen Powell to spend a day at their Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida. Powell was given the rare opportunity to fly in the back seat of the Blue Angels jet for a demonstration ride. He also visited the National Naval Aviation Museum, one of the world’s largest aviation museums, displaying more than 150 aircraft.
IWC has added three new chronographs to its Pilot’s Watches collection, as part of its contribution to the “Blue Angels” anniversary commemoration. One dedicated to a marine squadron, one naval squadron, and a third to the “Blue Angels.” All three are directly inspired by the brand’s collaborations with these squadrons.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Royal Maces” (Ref. IW389107) is dedicated to the Strike Fighter Squadron 27, known as the “Royal Maces.” Stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in Japan, this squadron forms part of Carrier Air Wing 5.
This chronograph features a black zirconium oxide ceramic case, while the pushers and the crown are made of Ceratanium. Developed by IWC, this material is as light and robust as titanium while being similarly hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic.
The dial features the “Maces” patch at 6 o’clock, and a yellow day-date indication at 3 o’clock. The yellow stitching on the strap, the tip of the chronograph seconds hand and the small seconds add details in the signature “Maces” colour. The case back is made of grade 5 titanium and features an engraving of the squadron’s F/A-18E Super Hornet jet next to the official squadron denomination “VFA-27”.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Tophatters” (Ref. IW389108) honours The Strike Fighter Squadron 14, nicknamed “Tophatters,” and based at the Naval Air Station Lemoore in California. Having formed in 1919, VFA-14 is the Navy’s oldest active squadron.
Similar to the 107, this chronograph also has a black zirconium oxide ceramic case and Ceratanium pushers and crown. The squadron’s patch with the classic top hat at 6 o’clock and engraved on the titanium case back. The day-date display, the tip of the chronograph seconds hand, the small seconds and the stitching on the black calfskin strap are in the squadron’s characteristic red.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Blue Angels” (Ref. IW389109) commemorates the 75th anniversary of the “Blue Angels,” currently made up of 141 members from the Navy and Marines. It is based on the military-exclusive watch developed with Blue Angels members stationed at Pensacola.
Unlike the previous two examples, this chronograph features a blue ceramic case. The bright blue colour is the result of mixing zirconium oxide with other metallic oxides. Here too, the chronograph pushers and the crown are made of IWC’s Ceratanium.
The iconic “Blue Angels” crest with the US Navy Wings of Gold is at 6 o’clock with the squadron’s characteristic lettering engraved on the titanium case back. Yellow details are found on the chronograph seconds hand, the small seconds and the day-date display at 3 o’clock. This watch is fitted with a blue rubber strap with textile inlay.
All three models are powered by the IWC-manufactured 69380 calibre. Consisting of 231 individual parts, this mechanical chronograph movement was engineered “with a focus on robustness, reliability and precision.” It has a bi-directional pawl-winding system to supply the movement with energy. It has a power reserve of 46 hours. A soft-iron inner case offers extra protection to the movement from the effects of magnetic fields. To avoid displacement in the case of sudden drops of air pressure, the front glasses are specially secured.
This is the first time that IWC has offered these designs to non-pilots, with the annual production of these three chronographs limited to 500 pieces each.