The 1990s are not what you would call the glory days of mechanical watchmaking. The Swiss establishment was just starting to claw its way back to prominence after the damage done by the Quartz Crisis and even historically significant brands were still trying to find their footing. Now, that doesn’t mean that good watchmaking wasn’t happening or that awesome designs weren’t being produced, it just means that for every truly great watch there were a lot of utterly forgettable models too. One watch that is, without a doubt, one of the most handsome, most important, and most interesting of the decade is the IWC Ceramic Fliegerchronograph ref. 3705 – if you’re a real watch nerd, this is one you definitely need to know about.
The ref. 3705 is a watch that sits at the juncture between IWC’s heritage and where it’s gone as a modern watchmaker at the turn of the 21st century. It’s a classic pilot’s chronograph in many ways, albeit with the day and date displays that make it more consumer-friendly, and it sits at 39mm in diameter, making it wearable for almost anyone. However, it uses a matte black ceramic case – a first for an IWC pilot (the brand first used the material a few years earlier in a DaVinci Perpetual Calendar – giving the watch a slightly more aggressive, tactical feel. This would carry forward into the Top Gun collection of pilot’s watches, not to mention the countless watches that IWC has made with non-traditional materials from titanium to bronze and more. This watch straddles the vintage/modern line in a fitting way, both in terms of its age and its style, and it looks every bit as good today as it did back in 1994.