IWC has been experimenting with colorful ceramic cases for years now, but no color has attained as unanimous an approval rating as the Mojave collection. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve loved Mojave from afar but haven’t yet plunged into the sand. Why? Well, for one thing, the brand only created Mojave models in large sizes.
You might recall the Big Pilot Mojave range from 2021, including a IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar. On one end of the spectrum you have a massive 46mm watch that – despite its handsome looks – is too big for my wrist and, on the other end, is all of that plus the elevated price tag by way of the QP complication. There was also the slightly smaller IWC Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Chronograph Mojave at 44.5mm. This was a 500-piece limited edition, released in 2019. Needless to say, I have been quietly hoping we would see IWC take the brownish-tan colorway and implement it into something a bit smaller. I would’ve been okay with the 43mm Big Pilot, and even better with a Mark series edition. What I hadn’t counted on was perhaps the most obvious: a Mojave Pilot’s Chronograph 41, which is exactly what has launched today.
I say this because we have already seen IWC take the ceramic case route into the chronograph line with watches like the exceedingly white Lake Tahoe. In fact, the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 is something of an oft-overlooked watch in terms of size and styling. It offers all of the toolish modern legibility of the Mark and Big Pilot watches, but with a happy medium sizing at 41.9mm (aka, under 42mm – if just barely). As a lesser-wristed individual with a wrist size of about 6 ⅓ in., I have always found these chronographs to be extremely wearable, especially on IWC’s rubber straps. I really enjoyed the Lake Tahoe when I first tried on at Watches & Wonders 2022, but now I think I am fully into this new Mojave iteration. So let’s focus in on it.
Getting pedantic, the Movaje execution belongs within the TOP GUN range of the IWC. In fact, the official name of this watch is the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 TOP GUN Mojave Desert. The case is made of sand-colored ceramic and the dial features a mix of beige and khaki colors to complement the case. According to IWC, the overall color scheme is “inspired by the flight suits of naval aviators and the desert landscape around China Lake, home to the U.S. Navy’s famous TOPGUN flight school.” The dial is the same brown color with slightly contrasty khaki-colored numerals. Inside beats the IWC-manufactured 69380 caliber.
I recall the first time I ever saw a Mojave Desert edition of an IWC watch and thinking, “man, this is one low-contrast, strangely colored watch, and yet… I really dig it.” I maintain this observation, and the “digging” has only increased due to the reduction in size.
James Stacey wrote the review for the 500-piece 44.5mm LE back in 2019 and noted, “While I prefer the ergonomics of the new 41mm chronographs, I really like the way the Mojave LE looks on wrist.” Well, James, IWC has delivered the complete package with this one. I am itching to get this in for a hands-on review and experience a design I like so very much, in a form factor I can actually wear. There’s not a whole lot to say about a watch that is effectively identical to its larger predecessor other than, “Nice work IWC.” Oh, and of course it helps to mention the price, which comes in at $11,700. This is not a limited edition, though I imagine it won’t necessarily be easy to come by. Stay tuned for more coverage on this one soon.