IWC has played a crucial role in the development of wristwatches, especially in the realm of aviation. This year, at Watches & Wonders 2021, they’re taking things a notch higher with the launch of the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL – the first brainchild of IWC’s new engineering division, IWC Experimental (XPL), which drives cutting-edge developments in areas like advanced materials or g-protection and the brands’ first watch to feature a patented new shock absorber system that can survive shocks of over 30,000G ‘s. After 8 years of research and development, rest assured the Big Pilot has never been more flight ready!
Presented in a 44mm Ceratanium case – a material as light and unbreakable as titanium, but also as hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic, the watch houses a patented SPRIN-g PROTECT system based on a cantilever spring that protects the movement against the g-forces generated by impacts. It works like a cushion, protecting the movement, and hence allows it to keep moving independently of the case before bringing it to a stop more gently.
According to Dr Lorenz Brunner, Department Manager Research & Innovation at IWC Schaffhausen, “When a watch suffers an impact, the movement and its components are subjected to high g-forces. If a pilot accidentally hits his watch against a hard surface in the cockpit, for example, accelerations are in the range of 300 to 1000 g. Our shock absorber system protects the movement so efficiently that it has survived accelerations in excess of 30,000 g in impact tests”.
To achieve this level of performance, IWC’s engineers had to design the spring until it reached its perfect form. It was also crucial to evenly spread the stress across its length and width. The other major innovation here is the use of Bulk Metallic Glass (BMG) as a material. A sophisticated manufacturing process gives BMG an amorphous microstructure, with the result that it is significantly more elastic than conventional metals. An ultra-lightweight titanium casing ring further reduces the mass that the shock absorber must hold.
The IWC-manufactured 32115 calibre used for this watch is a custom-made lightweight construction. Components like the base plate are made from a high-tech aluminium alloy used in the aerospace sector, which is light and highly rigid. The movement beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph/4 Hz, delivering a power reserve of 120 hours.
Limited to 10 pieces per year, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL is worn on a black textured rubber strap fitted with a pin buckle.