Back in 1994, black ceramic watches were still a novelty. So when IWC released a special version of their Fliegerchronograph in the stealthy material, it actually didn't sell particularly well; in fact, it was discontinued after roughly 1,000 pieces. However, collectors soon began to take notice of this unique creation — so when you find one of the original ref. 3705 "Ceramic Fliegerchronograph" watches floating around in 2021, they trade for tens of thousands of dollars.
Since the early 1990s, however, IWC has vastly expanded its manufacturing capabilities in the realm of special materials. As a result, this year, it's releasing a special Tribute to 3705 in black Ceratanium (ref. 387905), powered by the in-house IWC cal. 69380 movement in place of the Valjoux 7750.
Limited to 1,000 pieces, it features a replicated dial from the original watch with a triple-register layout: a 30-minute counter at 12 o'clock, a 12-hour counter at 9 o'clock, and a running seconds counter at 6 o'clock. The original 3705's day-date display at 3 o'clock is also present on the new timepiece.
The watch's case, chronograph pushers and the strap's pin buckle are each made of Ceratanium, which necessitates a unique manufacturing process: the components are manufactured from a titanium alloy and then treated in a furnace, during which a special transformation takes place that gives the materials ceramic-like properties. Light and robust like titanium and highly scratch-resistant and dark like ceramic, Ceratanium is just one of several innovative new materials that have changed the face of watchmaking over the last decade.
Powering the new Tribute is the IWC in-house cal. 69380, a column-wheel design with a power reserve of 46 hours. Taken as a whole, the Ceratanium construction with the in-house movement make this a tremendously special watch. Of course, this kind of innovation and quality doesn't come cheap: shipping on a black calfskin strap and limited to 1,000 pieces, the new 3705 is available on IWC's website for $11,900.