In 2021, IWC celebrates the 85th anniversary of the first Pilot watch with the launch of five new models in this family: Big Pilot 43, Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar, Pilot Chronograph 41, Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert” and Big Pilot TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”.
Originally designed as reliable and accurate instruments for the flight deck, aviator watches (or Pilot) are today sports models that prove their worth in everyday situations. The history of these watches goes back to the early years of aviation, a time when accurate wristwatches were an essential instrument in the cabin and a vital tool for aviators’ survival, being used mainly to monitor flight times or hours of engine operation, although they were also very useful navigation tools during visual flights.
IWC was a pioneer in the production of technical instruments designed to meet the needs of aviators. In 1936, the ‘Pilot Special Watch’ was developed in Schaffhausen and included an antimagnetic movement and a shockproof front glass. Most importantly, the watch worked perfectly in a temperature range of -40 ° C to +40 ° C, which was a fundamental advantage in the unheated cabins of the time.
During the 1940s, the IWC created the Big Pilot Watch caliber 52 T.S.C. in response to the demanding requirements of military observation watches, which later inspired the Big Pilot design. The minimalist dial of this model, designed like the instruments of the cockpit for easy reading, and its impressive conical crown, easy for pilots to use, even with padded flight gloves, continue to influence the design of modern Big Pilots.
The most famous aviator watch created in Schaffhausen was born in 1948. After receiving an invitation from the Royal British Air Force (RAF), IWC developed the Mark 11 Navigator wristwatch, based on caliber 89. One of the fundamental requirements in this model was that the movement should be protected against magnetic fields, since the radar equipment used at the time generated powerful electromagnetic fields that hindered the clock’s movement. IWC then developed an internal soft iron case, the top of which molded the dial. In this way, the radiation around the movement was dissipated, as the case functioned like a Faraday cage. Another unique feature of this model was the front glass, fixed in a special way and that did not move, even in case of sudden pressure drop in the cabin. In addition, the highly structured dial with high-contrast luminescent elements ensures that aviators can easily see the time, regardless of visibility conditions.
In 2021, IWC celebrates the history of its Pilot watches and presents new models, which include reinterpretations of classics, new materials and movements.
Big Pilot 43
A true interpretation of the iconic design of the observation watch, the new Big Pilot 43 features an ergonomic 43mm steel case with black or blue dial and is powered by the 82100 manufacture caliber with Pellaton winding, visible through the sapphire glass caseback.
With a conical crown, a four-rivet bracelet and an open, easily readable dial, no other IWC model embodies the essence of a Big Pilot Watch like this. Its functional design, with the easy-to-read style of the cockpit instruments, is inspired by a model of military observation from the 1940s. Another detail that the modern Big Pilot 43 shares with its historical predecessor is the oversized crown, a feature which allowed pilots to operate their watches even with padded flight gloves. This is an authentic interpretation of an iconic design, without a date window or power reserve indicator (60 hours).
The Big Pilot 43 also offers the new EasX-CHANGE bracelet exchange system, which allows you to change the bracelet quickly and easily, quickly adapting the watch to different environments or activities. Several calfskin or rubber straps in various colors are available, as well as a new steel bracelet with a fine-tuning clasp system.
Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar
With a steel case and blue dial, the new Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar continues the long tradition of including watches with a perpetual calendar in the Big Pilot collection. Developed in the 1980s by Kurt Klaus, the IWC’s legendary perpetual calendar automatically recognizes the different durations of leap months and years. This ingenious mechanical program does not need any manual correction until 2100, when the leap year will be ignored, according to the exception rule of the Gregorian calendar. Another distinguishing feature is the four-digit year indicator. In addition, a centuries-old slider is included inside the case, allowing the watch to display the year up to 2499. The calendar, with all its indicators perfectly synchronized, can be easily adjusted with a single crown, a very easy to use mechanism , unique in the world of mechanical calendars.
With the new Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar, this legendary complication returns to the classic collection. On the dial, the date and power reserve indicator are located at 3 o’clock and the month indicator at 6 o’clock. The day of the week indicator and the small seconds hand share the sub-dial at 9 o’clock, while the double moon phase indicator, located at 12, correctly describes the phase of the moon in the northern and southern hemisphere, needing only an adjustment of one day every 577.5 years.
The new model is equipped with the 52615 manufacture caliber, with a Pellaton winding system equipped with ceramic components and seven days of power reserve, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback.
Pilot Chronograph 41
The chronograph is one of the emblems of the IWC Pilot collection and could not be missing from the novelties for 2021. Thus, the new Pilot Chronograph 41 is presented in a 41 mm steel case, with blue or green dial and is equipped with the new bracelet quick change system EasX-CHANGE, with options available in leather, rubber or steel.
Pilot Chronograph 41 is powered by manufacture caliber 69385, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. This mechanical movement consists of 231 parts, the chronograph function being controlled by a column wheel. A bidirectional rackwheel winding system converts the activity of the watch wearer’s wrist into tension for the mainspring, providing energy to the movement efficiently and ensuring a 46-hour power reserve.
Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” Edition and Big Pilot TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” Edition
For the first time, and continuing with the TOP GUN series of sand-colored ceramics, IWC uses this material in two Big Pilot watches, whose military-inspired design now receives dark brown dials, sand-colored hands and rubber bracelets . Both models are powered by manufacture movements from the 52000 caliber family.
IWC’s TOP GUN watches, designed to withstand the maximum acceleration forces when maneuvering supersonic fighters, such as the F / A-18E / F Super Hornet, for prolonged take-offs on aircraft carriers and for missions in any climate in which the weather be critical, they are technically very advanced precision instruments. Made of durable and corrosion-resistant materials such as titanium and ceramics, they can withstand the difficult tasks of elite pilots in the United States Navy. Ceramic, for example, is an ideal material for daily use in the confined space of a fighter’s cabin, thanks to its extreme hardness and scratch resistance.
The Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” Edition presents the legendary IWC perpetual calendar developed by Kurt Klaus, for the first time in a sand-colored ceramic case. Built with 82 individual parts and with a four-digit year indicator, the calendar module is powered by the 52615 manufacture caliber, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback. In addition, the Pellaton automatic winding system, reinforced with ceramic components practically immune to wear, stores a seven-day power reserve on two barrels. The production of this model will be limited to 150 pieces per year.
The Big Pilot TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” Edition is the first watch of its kind to be manufactured with a sand-colored ceramic case. Inside the 46 mm case, operates the 52110 manufacture caliber with Pellaton winding, two barrels and a seven-day power reserve. In addition, an internal soft iron case protects movement from the effect of magnetic fields. The legendary TOP GUN logo is engraved on the titanium caseback and this model will be limited to 250 pieces per year.