Here’s one travel-related conundrum all watch lovers share no matter where your brand loyalty (or rivalry) lies: How to decide which ones to bring along and which ones to leave behind. For some of us, there’s also the additional complexity of which watch to wear on the flight versus which ones to check in. And no, we’re not overthinking it.
As with shoes or fashion, you wouldn’t attempt sporty at a dressy event, and neither would you glam up to go brave the elements. It’s always the right watch for the right occasion. Similarly, on a flight, a hardy tool watch is your best defense against everything from the edges of the service trolley to the seatbelt’s hardware—otherwise known as Scratchtown.
Unless you’re flying business or suites, in which case, feel free to break out that gold or platinum watch and schmooze away with the other big-boss types if you have to. It’s part of the gig.
Point is, when we’re miles away from home, with no do-overs and no access to backup, then choose wisely we must. Because at best you’ll rue the day you missed out on a opportunity for a killer wrist shot. At worst? You’ll be known as that blowhard who brought a gun to a knife fight.
Again, we’re not overthinking it. This is also why collectors bother coordinating watches ahead of GTGs.
And it applies even when you’re away from home but still in the country, i.e. staycations. Yes, by definition this much overused portmanteau implies you’re on holiday, which should exempt you from these tiresome do’s and don’ts.
But watch-loving staycationers would also like to pack well, and ideally you’ll need one watch for a dressy dinner, another for a morning by the pool, another for a jaunt around town…
Instead of bringing a watch roll full of different timepieces, here's what you can do. Pack light and wear something that’s nice but not fussy, and that also comes with interchangeable strap options. Consider the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41.
Let’s start with the basics. At 41mm, this 2021 novelty is slightly downsized from its 43mm predecessor and those two millimetres are nothing to scoff, since they have done an amazing job in improving fit and comfort. Case thickness has also gone down by almost 1mm, keeping the watch’s proportions in check.
All this is made possible with the use of IWC’s in-house chronograph movement Calibre 69385, which is similar to the previous Valjoux-based Calibre 79320 in absolute terms, but also superior in some ways. For one, the new movement offers 46 hours of power reserve (versus 44 in the older model) and the watch also packs deeper water resistance (100m versus 60m).
Most significantly, Calibre 69385 can be seen through a sapphire case back—a feature that’s not wholly unexpected, since most in-house manufactured calibres are feted this way, but here’s where opinions start to bifurcate.
Exhibition case backs are great because they allow you to admire the beautiful in-house movements. Connoisseurs obviously love them. At the same time, however, the Pilot’s Watch collection by IWC has a long tradition of anti-magnetism. Having an open case back means that the movement is no longer protected from magnetic fields.
Admittedly it diminishes the technical capabilities of the watch. But then again, unless you’re constantly near an MRI machine (or work at CERN), it really isn’t that big a deal.
The Bells & Whistles
To make up for the missing soft-iron inner case, IWC worked in a new feature that’s fast becoming a must-have in all 21st century luxury timepieces: the quick-change bracelet. Cleverly named the EasX-Change System, you can toggle between a calfskin leather strap, a rubber strap, or a steel bracelet in a matter of seconds.
We love how nondescript the push-piece looks and how it sits nice and flat against the strap. It is also large and ergonomic enough. Just press firmly to release the strap from the spring bar.
What’s also great about the EasX-Change System is that it clips over the watch’s spring bars, so you never have to worry about scratching your watch’s lugs. It is far easier to handle and way more efficient than straps with built-in lateral spring-loaded bars.
The bracelet fits beautifully into the case with no open spaces, but the straps unfortunately do leave a bit of room between the lugs, which can be an issue for some. In addition, there is only one strap buckle to share between the calfskin and rubber straps.
More on this bracelet, which is fairly new to the Pilot’s Watch family, IWC went with the classic five-link style that’s known to be very flexible and smooth. Years ago they’ve done something similar but with slightly more rounded links. This one with a flat profile and cleaner lines, as well as alternating brushed and polished surfaces, renders a more contemporary aesthetic.
Note also that IWC offers the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 with a dark blue sunray finish dial, which usually suggests Edition Le Petit Prince, but not in this case, as it is a regular production model and also available in a bold bright green.
Incidentally, these are exactly the right colours to put anyone in the mood for a holiday—blue for azure oceans and green for lush gardens. And, if you had been wondering, yes, this review was written whilst on a staycation.
Case: 41mm stainless steel, sapphire crystal case back
Movement: Calibre 69385 self-winding IWC in-house chronograph
Power reserve: 46 hours
Water resistance: 100m
Price: $10,800 (bracelet) $9,750 (calfskin)