The IWC 3705 was one model in a line of aviation chronograph (fliegerchronograph) wristwatches manufactured by Swiss watchmaker International Watch Company (IWC). Nicknamed the “black flieger,” the IWC 3705 was the first ceramic chronograph ever produced.
The IWC 3705 was part of IWC’s pilots watch collection, a collection that goes all the way back to the iconic Mark XI model, which also helped IWC become a household name in luxury pilots watches.
The IWC 3705, also known as the "Black Fleiger" (images by DWC user: aikiman44)
The 3705 was manufactured during the early days of what is known as the Swiss resurgence in watchmaking. During that time, IWC was the one of the first luxury watchmakers to experiment with new materials in their efforts to manufacture durable watch cases. In manufacturing the 3705, the watchmaker went for a type of ceramic made from zirconium oxide, known to be durable but a notoriously difficult and expensive material to work with at the time.
The 3705 line was introduced in 1994. However, it was only available in the market for a short time as it was discontinued in 1997, three years after its debut. Some speculations have been raised as to why the 3705 line only had a short run in the market. One speculation is that IWC found it too difficult and expensive to continue utilizing zirconium oxide to manufacture the watch cases. The fact that it was the first time a manufacturer attempted to mass produce a watch case made of this material also compounded matters for the manufacturer. Another speculation is that IWC was disappointed with the market reaction to the 3705 as it was perceived to be cheap-looking, a product of an aversion of the public at the time to black watches, as most of the black watches in the market then were made of cheap quartz plastic. Despite being a ceramic wristwatch, the black coating of the 3705 made it a target of an adverse public reaction to black watches in general.
A catalog scan for the 3705 (left), and an ad featuring the similar 3713 (right)
Despite its short history, the IWC 3705 has achieved a cult status, as it attracted a number of admirers, not to mention countless imitations as well. One admirer is J.J. Redick, a professional basketball player for the Los Angeles Clippers team of the NBA. Redick, himself an avid collector of fine watches, is noted in an article to have a blacked-out IWC 3705 which has a luminous display of the radioactive tritium on its dial.
Fewer than 2000 examples of the IWC 3705 were made during its short production run; all were designed, assembled, and regulated in IWC’s facilities in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. It adopted the Valjoux 7750 calibre as its base movement and had two variations that were manufactured based on different calibres of this movement: cal 7902 (manufactured from 1994 to 1997) and cal 7912. (manufactured in 1997).
In addition, IWC also manufactured a stainless steel version of the 3705, the IWC 3706. Other than the material used, the rest of the technical and design specifications of the 3706 are similar to that of the 3705.
Due to its short history, IWC 3705 watches are now very rare to find.
The watch bears the design conceptualized by Lothar Schmidt, an engineer and watch entrepreneur who worked with IWC at the time. During his stint in IWC, he developed an innovative case and bracelet production and helped solve problems which dealt with the difficulty to process materials such as titanium, platinum, and ceramics.
IWC’s Annual Edition (published circa 1993) noted that the IWC 3705 seemed destined to cause quite a stir among lovers of unusual timepieces. The report raved about the use of ceramic in creating a watch which was reminiscent of state-of-the-art stealth and space travel technology.
The watch has a matte black surround, the precision of which can be seen in the luminescent white hands and numerals, while the high-tech ceramic technology used in the watch would reportedly allow for stealth technology. With regards to day-to-day use, the watch is noted to be the most durable that can withstand everyday wear without significant risk of damage thanks to its super-durable ceramic case.
Details and Specifications
|Manufacturer||International Watch Company|
|Caliber||Caliber 7902, Caliber 7912 (Both with base caliber Valjoux 7750)|
|Water Resistance||60 M|
|Dimensions||39mm Round Case|
|Number of Jewels||25 Jewel|
|Beats per hour||28,800 bph|
|Movement height and diameter||30mm, height of 8.9mm|
|Finish||Matte black ceramic (zirconium oxide)|
|Markings||Dial with tritium markings|
|Complications||date, chronograph, small second hand|
|Production Number||Approximately 2000|
Valjoux 7750, the base movement for the IWC 3705, was developed by Valjoux, a notable producer of chronograph movements, especially mechanical chronograph movements that have been used in a number of watches, such as those manufactured by Enicar, Breitling, Tag Heuer, Longines, and IWC.
|Casing Diameter||30 mm||30 mm|
|Maximum Height||7.90 mm||7.90 mm|
|No. of Functional Jewels||25 artificial jewels||25 artificial jewels|
|Vibrations per hour||28, 800 vph||28, 800 vph|
|Impulse Angle||52 degrees||52 degrees|
|Oscillating Frequency||4.00 Hertz||4.00 Hertz|
|Adjustment System||Classic Fine Adjustment||ETA Chron|
|Surfaces||gold plated||gold plated|
|Rotor-segment-material||heavy metal||heavy metal|
|Balance-spring- type||flat balance-spring||flat balance-spring|
|Power Reserve of the Fully-wound Movement||44 hours||44 hours|
IWC calibre 7902 (left), IWC calibre 7912 (right)
The 3705 dial is of luminous material that was made from tritium, with black coating and featured pump pushers and a traditional pilot’s chrono dial. Later versions however, replaced tritium with Luminova.
The layout consists of luminous hands and markers (light patina), Day and Date at 3:00, and 3 registers: 30 Minute Register at 12:00, 12 Hour Register at 6:00, and Subsidiary Seconds at 9:00. The numbers are marked in Arabic numerals. 
This dial configuration is known as the “black pilot,” particularly the models of the 3705 manufactured in 1994.
As noted earlier, aside from the matte black ceramic case used in IWC 3705, a stainless steel variant was made for the IWC 3706, which is essentially the stainless steel version of the 3705. The caseback is a screw back type and is made of stainless steel, the same material used for the crown and the pushers as well.
The IWC 3705 uses sapphire crystal as material for the watch crystal.
A sapphire crystal protects the face of the IWC 3705
Additional Information on the IWC 3705
During the time it was on production, the IWC 3705 commanded an original premium of 50% at list price. At that time, it had a price tag of about $6000.
Image by: Francis Chang (minutedreamer on flickr)
Currently, a 3705 in good condition would fetch somewhere between US$4000 and US$7000 in auctions and from second hand retailers.
Given its short production history, the IWC 3705 is rare to find at present. At the same time, its place as an important timepiece in the history of watchmaking makes it a high-end watch and a collector’s item itself.
During the time it was on production, the IWC 3705 commanded an original premium of 50% at list price, with a price tag of about $6000. Today, a unit can command a price range from US$4000 to as high as US$7000 in auctions and online marketplaces.
There are no known variations of the 3705, given the limited time it was on the market, save for its sibling, the aforementioned IWC 3706 which is the stainless steel version of the ceramic cased 3705. The 3706 has a lower premium as it is being sold anywhere between $2500 to $3500.
One important thing to remember in purchasing a 3705 is that there may be a lack of available replacement cases should damage occur at the ceramic case. In the event of such damage, you may be advised that it could be replaced with a stainless steel case, which would turn the watch into a 3706.
From The Spring Bar Store:
- goldstein, IWC Fliegeruhr Chronograph 3705, Movement archive 2009
- hodinkee, History Lesson: Comparing The IWC Top Gun Miramar Chronograph vs. IWC's Very First Ceramic Chronograph, The 3705, Article 2012
- reddit user zanonymous, ---- /r/Watches Official Buying Guide US$5000-$10000 ----, Post 2012
- Peter Flax, L.A. CLIPPERS STAR J.J. REDICK REVEALS HIS NOT-SO-SECRET "OBSESSION": WATCHES, Article 2014
- thedivewatchconnection user aikiman44, The Flieger Chrono, Forum post 2012
- watchprosite user shing, small review of the history of IWC ceramic pilots..., Forum post 2013
- watchwiki, Schmidt, Lothar, Watch Wiki 2015
- Alexander Linz, CHARLIE-ECHO-ROMEO-ALFA-MIKE-INDIA-CHARLIE, Article 2012
- bernardwatch, About ETA Valjoux 7750 Watches, Article
- tz-uk user feilersen, IWC 3705 Ceramic Flieger, Forum post 2011
- timezone user DC_Timekeeper, FS: IWC 3705 Ceramic Fliegerchronograph Full Set, Forum post 2014
- thewatchquote, PILOT’S WATCH EDITION TOP GUN, Article 2007
- iwc forum user SPORTMICHAEL, I HOPE IWC CAN ADDRESS MY PROBLEM WITH A 3705 SERVICE/REPAIR.., Forum post 2014
- DC_Timekeeper, mywatchmart listing, FS: IWC 3705 Ceramic Fliegerchronograph Full Set, Aug 26, 2014 listing