I recently spent some time with the latest collaboration piece from Silicon Valley-based Collective Horology, the Limited Edition Replica IWC “C.03” Pilot’s Watch in the new 41mm case. Collective founders Asher Rapkin and Gabe Reilly cite IWC's '90s era and, in particular, the IW3706 replica watches as inspiration for the 125-piece limited-edition collaboration. The result is a very beautiful monochromatic piece that I find the most appealing of the brand's current 41mm steel pilot chrono offerings, yet I still can't help but wish they had taken the inspiration even further far.
Replica IWC knows it's having success with the new, smaller 41mm pilot's chronograph that was introduced earlier this year at Watches & Wonders. We've seen quite a few iterations with ceramic cases, but when it comes to the steel case, blue and green are the only dial options at the moment. Well, those and the 125 pieces of the C.03 that will be produced. In 2019, I did a No Longer Made article on the Fliegerchronograph Replica IWC Ref. 3706 (which you can read here), which – although I certainly wasn't original in bragging – is a perfect piece of what enthusiasts love about post-quartz IWC. A simple, reasonably sized monochromatic tool watch, the IW3706 was by no means perfect. For example, I always found the area around the date window to be… cluttered (especially how close the “2” was to the text “IWC”). It also lacked a proper AR coating and the day/date windows did not match the dial.
I pick these nits with a watch that's been discontinued for nearly two decades now to highlight some of the ways the new Pilot's Chrono (and, in turn, the C.03) improves on the '90s classic.Looking at the IWC C.03, the monochromatic black and light gray dial is very readable, and I appreciate the nod to authenticity by having the day display in German. And, while some may complain that the IW3706's 39mm case isn't faithful, I think the new 41mm case is a good size as it is. Would I have liked to see a iwc replica squared hour hand and a fully brushed case? Yes. Does this two-part wishlist have a major impact on the final product? No, I don't think so, and if that's the case for you, then what you really want may be an original IW3706 rather than a contemporary version.Measuring 41mm wide, 14.5mm thick and with a lug-to-lug height of 50mm, the IWC C.03 has 100 meters of water resistance. The case flip shows the Replica IWC Caliber 69385, which was introduced for the smaller 41mm case (while the 43mm model uses the 7750-based caliber 79320). A column-wheel chronograph with a bidirectional ratchet winding system, the 69385 operates at 28,800 vibrations per hour and has a 46-hour power reserve. Unlike standard production models, the C.03's rotor is finished with black nickel plating for a nice contrasting look.