The limited-edition IWC Montre d’Aviateur Chronographe Edition Patrouille Suisse (Ref. 3717) was issued to support the famous aerobatics team of the Swiss Air Force that was formed in 1964 and changed its paint scheme exactly 20 years ago to incorporate the red and white colors of the Swiss flag. A kind of anniversary, okay.
Did you know that, although neutral, the Swiss Confederation was one of the most militarized countries in Europe?
With a population of around 7.8 million of people (only around 6.1 million of them are of Swiss nationality,) the small alpine country has formidable armed forces of 200,000 personnel (120,000 of them on active duty) and just eight years ago the army was halved in a major cost-cutting effort!
The Swiss Air Force, however, is not that impressive consisting mainly of obsolete fighter jets and helicopters (including the Eurocopter AS532 Cougar that another Swiss watchmaker paid homage to recently with its Victorinox Swiss Army Alpnach automatic chronograph.)
The best that they can offer is around three dozens F-18 Hornets and 54 F-5 Tiger II.
Of the latter, at least six are employed by the famous Patrouille Suisse military aerobatics team.
To support the team of elite pilots, the International Watch Company has presented a new special edition IWC Montre d’Aviateur Chronographe Edition Patrouille Suisse model.
Limited at only 300 pieces, this edition differs from the other members of the family only with its color scheme and with the shape of the counter-tip on the central chronograph hand. The latter is formed to resemble the Northrop F-5E Tiger II as seen from above (or, rather, from the ground.)
By the way, the numerals and hour markers on the timekeeper’s dial are not just printed with white paint but are covered with a high-quality luminous substance, so the watch will offer you almost unrivaled readability in the twilight.
Powered by the usual IWC caliber 79320 self-winding movement that is based on the ETA Valjoux 7750 ebauche with hacking seconds function, the chronograph offers the usual functionality.
Too bad that the caliber cannot be seen: the 3717 comes fitted with a solid case-back cover engraved with the Patrouille Suisse logo.
There is a pair of chronograph sub-dials at 6 and 12 o’clock, a subsidiary seconds indicator at 9 hours and the extended calendar display at 3 o’clock showing the current day and date.
The calendar function is rather simple, so you will have to correct its readings at least five times a year: on months that are shorter than 31 days.
The mechanism is operated with a pair of chronograph pushers and a setting/winding crown that, for some unknown reason, are done in mirror-polished steel that looks somewhat awkward in combination with satin-finished stainless steel of the case.
It must also be noted that, while modest 42 millimeters in diameter, the case is rather thick with a total height just shy of 15 millimeters. I can’t call these proportions “gargantuan,” but just bear in mind that the piece may not look good if you plan to wear it with business attire.
P.S. By the way, if you still want to support the Swiss aerobatics team, but are not particularly fond with the design of the Montre d’Aviateur, you may try an even more vintage-styled Oris Swiss Hunter Team PS (Patrouille-Suisse) Edition model.
IWC Montre d’Aviateur Chronographe Patrouille Suisse (Ref. 3717) specification
Price: 6200 CHF (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, IWC caliber 79320, based on ETA Valjoux 7750 ebauche, Swiss Made
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, day of the week, chronograph
Power reserve: 44 hours
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Case height: 14.70 mm
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 60 meters
Strap: Dark grey textile “NATO” strap with grey stitching and a stainless steel pin buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides
Back: Solid, engraved with Patrouille Suisse logo