I’m not sure the timing of the new IWC Pilot’s Replica collection was coincidental or not, but if so, IWC is quite fortunate that its strongest family of replica watches was ready to be launched during one of the most challenging years in recent memory for the industry. The IWC Pilot's replica watches are true icons (we don't use that word lightly), and the latest crop is especially strong. In addition to the usual time-only Mark models, the bold chronographs, and the Big Pilots, the manufacture spent the two years working hard to make sure the IWC Timezoner Chronograph 3950 Replica would be part of the 2016 lineup. Its a big part of the new collection, both figuratively and literally.
A brand new entry in the Pilot’s collection, the Timezoner is IWC’s maiden attempt at integrating particularly user-friendly GMT/dual time zone complication into its collections. A little background: the bezel-set GMT system in the Timezoner was developed by replica watchmaker Michael Vogt, who launched a brand built around the system called Vogard in 2002. Vogt showed Vogard's first completed replica watch at Basel in 2014, but sold the patent to IWC shortly thereafter. At the time of the patent transfer, Vogt issued a statement saying, "“As a niche manufacturer and replica watch atelier we do not have the financial and structural resources to fully exploit the potential of the Timezoner technology ... I am very pleased that we found one of leading brands with the power to further develop the Timezoner and to establish it on a world wide level.”
After two years and some in-house refinements, the complication is finally ready for customers, and it’s been paired with one of the manufacture’s column-wheel chronograph movements, the automatic caliber 89760. It first debuted back in January at SIHH, but we finally got our hands on one and decided to dig deep into exactly how it works and whether or not it's a useful interpretation of the complication.
What’s pretty great about this particular dual time zone complication is that while it’s brand spanking new (for IWC at least), it's incredibly user-friendly and intuitive. Local time is set to a new time zone by pressing down on two opposite sides of the bezel and turning it until the desired time zone locks into the 12 o’clock position. That’s all there is to it, really. Both the hour hand and the red 24-hour hand will follow the bezel, jumping in one-hour increments to reveal the time at the chosen destination – minutes still need to be adjusted via the crown in the unlikely event that you're traveling to a half-hour or 45-minute time zone. (It should be noted, by the way, that though the reference cities on the bezel give the Timezoner a superficial relationship to a world time replica watch, it is in fact a dual time zone/GMT replica watch).
This bezel-adjusted system is an exciting piece of equipment, and I can see why IWC was quick to snap it up from Vogard. The bezel roates in either direction, meaning any mistake can be quickly fixed (no going around 23 hours to remedy and extra push). Using it instantly feels like second nature, and ultimately it makes traveling a little bit less of a headache, especially during same-day trips across Europe.