Welcome to Dialed In, Esquire’s regular column bringing you horological happenings and the most essential news from the watch world.
IWC’s mastery of watches that fuse advanced timekeeping with interesting case materials is nowhere more evident than in Ceratanium, the mind-bending combination—in a single block case—of ceramic and titanium. It is that material that graces the case of a new, high-performance Pilot chronograph, released in November alongside a similar watch in titanium. Both are inspired by IWC’s long-running partnership with automotive specialist Mercedes-AMG, which began way back in 2004. In 2013, it was extended to encompass the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 team, too.
The Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 AMG—to give it its official moniker—comes in grade 5 titanium, a material that was pioneered by IWC itself as early as 1980, when the watchmaker released a mechanical chronograph made from the stuff under the Porsche Design brand. That came only after much experimentation in tooling capable of working the notoriously hard metal. But the advantages, chiefly the alluring color and the fact that titanium is up to 45 percent lighter than steel, were worth all the head-scratching. It’s available on either a black rubber strap or a full titanium bracelet.
The Ceratanium version—in case the other name wasn’t long enough—is dubbed the Pilot’s Watch Performance Chronograph 41 Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. And here’s where things get even more interesting. The proprietary alloy from which it’s made was first developed for the 50th anniversary of the Aquatimer dive watch back in 2017 and it has trickled into production watches gradually since then. A fusion in the firing kiln of the unique properties of ceramic (hardness and scratch resistance) and titanium (lightness and robustness) also give it a dark (but not quite black) matte surface. The F1 version of these watches also has very subtle nods to Mercedes-AMG Petronas’s team colors in some of the markings.
Both chronographs come with tachymeters engraved into their ceramic bezels, which is great. Frankly, you’re not likely to use them in any serious manner, but it does fully flesh out the functional automotive vibe one would expect from watches inspired by Mercedes-AMG.
Nick Sullivan is Creative Director at Equire, where he served as Fashion Director from 2004 until 2019. Prior to that, he relocated from London with his young family to Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. He has styled and art directed countless fashion and cover stories for both Esquire and Big Black Book (which he helped found in 2006) in exotic,uncomfortable, and occasionally unfeasibly cold locations. He also writes extensively about men’s style, accessories, and watches. He describes his style as elegantly disheveled.
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