While the appearance of all reference IW3878 models is alluring, there are so many models that I can afford to be fussy. While I am intrigued by the mirrored look of the ardoise or slate dial of the basic IW3878 model, to my thinking it moves away from a tool watch concept. I then considered the gold version: after all no gold watch is a “true” tool watch, and perhaps an exception should be made since the watch is drop-dead beautiful. But on reconsideration, the triple date window takes the watch out of running for me. It’s again a subjective bias, but altimeters never really were part of the tradition of mechanical watches.
Then, another model caught my eye: reference IW3878-06, the Pilot’s Chronograph Antoine St. Exupéry. There’s a single date window at 6 o’clock. Being a retro-grouch, the stylized 1930s Arabic numerals smack of tradition, even if the watch’s design actually represents a fantasy. But to me this watch also has an Achilles’ heel: a “true” pilot’s watch should be antimagnetic, and this one isn’t. For most people and uses, it doesn’t matter, but as mentioned I personally believe in tradition.
I then not-so accidentally stumbled upon one chronograph that is perfect: reference IW3878-08. This watch, the Collectors Forum Pilot’s Chronograph or colloquially the “CF3”, is a now sold-out limited edition of 250 examples. And what a watch it is. Fine in-house movement, check. Flat black dial, check. Single date window, check. Anti-magnetic, check. True, I was more than a little behind the development of this version, but to me it is one of the best watches of its genre ever produced, not just by IWC but within the Swiss watch industry.