Welcome to Always On Time, where we’ll highlight the very best, most interesting, and coolest new watches in the world.
The watches: three IWC Pilot’s Watches Chronograph Squadron Editions
The single best thing about these watches: These IWC military watches are finally available to the rest of us.
The backstory: IWC is basically synonymous with outstanding pilot’s watches. The brand has a long history of supplying various military units with timepieces made to their specific requirements. In 2018, the brand added another client to its roster: the U.S. Navy and the Marine Corps’s aviation units. In that time, IWC has developed custom watches that were, up to this point, exclusively available to current and former service members. Now, three “squadron editions” watches are available to the public in limited numbers.
The three are:
- A watch made for the famous Blue Angels demonstration team. Naturally, the watch’s case is ceramic navy blue. The dial includes an image of the Blue Angel’s shield with the silhouette of four planes flying amongst the clouds.
- Another made for the Tophatters, the oldest active squadron in the U.S. Navy. An image of a tophat circled by the words “Oldest” and “Boldest” sits prominently above 6 o’clock on the dial. Each watch uses an accent color that corresponds with its particular squadron, and this is where the Tophatters watch wins: the red hands and date readings up the cool factor here a couple of notches.
- The last watch, associated with the Royal Maces, is the serious one of the bunch. The vivid highlighter yellow on the Blue Angels’ watch is dulled to a rich gold here. The logo on the dial features a hand clutching a menacing mace.
Choose your fighter: Watches made in conjunction with different countries’ armed forces have long been a major watch collecting category. There is maybe no better example of this than the mythical “MilSub,” or a military-issued Rolex Submariner, which identifies itself with a small circled “T” on the dial (it stands for tritium, a luminescent material used on parts of the watches). But this subsection of the watch world is dense with desirable pieces, like the Heuer “Bund” Flyback Chronographs or the Breitling Navitimer Iraqi Air Force Issue affectionately known as the Fried Egg. Military logos like the ones on these three new IWC models have the power to turn an ordinary timepiece into a historic and highly collectible one.
Where and when to buy it: All three models ($10,900) are available at IWC now.