When the first Big Pilot’s watch made its debut in 2002, it was pretty evident that the watch was here to stay. With its striking conical crown, strap with four rivets, and uncluttered, easy-to-read dial, the design became instantly recognisable and was a complete departure from those imposing silhouettes, sharp contrasts and uncalled for functions that most aviation watches today cannot work without. The story of this now iconic model began around the turn of the millennium. Under the aegis of then-director Günter Blümlein, the “Big Pilot’s Watch – Mark XXI” project team worked non-stop to develop a groundbreaking new timepiece for pilots. It was not only to reflect the company’s heritage in the production of robust, reliable instruments for the cockpit but also to point a new way forward to the future of the pilot’s watch. And, by April 2002 the time had come. IWC unveiled the “Big Pilot’s Watch Ref. 5002”: 46.2 millimetres in diameter, 15.2 millimetres high, and weighing 150 grams.
For Watches & Wonders 2021, IWC Schaffhausen presents a new scaled down version of its iconic Big Pilot’s Watch for enhanced ergonomics and wearability. The new IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Millimetre. On offer are three references: Ref. IW329301 (Stainless steel case, black dial, rhodium-plated hands, brown calf leather strap), Ref. IW329303 (Stainless steel case, blue dial, rhodium-plated hands, blue calf leather strap) and Ref. IW329304 (Stainless steel case, blue dial, rhodium-plated hands, stainless steel bracelet). The combinations feel right in every way and really do a fantastic job in calling out to older IWC watches that were supplied to aviators in the 20th century. IWC Schaffhausen has returned to the extreme purity of the original observation watch designed more than 80 years ago, creating simple three hand
models – which is why you’ll find that there are no other elements on the dial, i.e, no date window or any power reserve indicator whatsoever. A reworked case construction ensures the watch is now water-resistant to 10 bar.
The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is fitted with an IWC manufactured 82100 calibre. The automatic movement has been engineered with a focus on maximum precision and reliability. It features the highly efficient automatic winding system developed by Albert Pellaton, which uses the rotor’s smallest movements in either direction to wind the mainspring. Components like the automatic wheel or the pawls that mesh with it are made of virtually wear-free zirconium oxide ceramic. The manufacturing of such small ceramic parts presents a huge engineering challenge. When fully wound, the mainspring stores 60 hours of power. The movement has been elaborately decorated with circular graining and can be observed through a sapphire glass back.
To comply with your ever changing wardrobe, IWC is also introducing a new quick-change strap system that allows the wearer to easily change the strap. A wide range of accessories, such as calfskin and rubber straps in attractive colours, as well as a new stainless steel bracelet that IWC is presenting for the very first time in its 80-year history, with a fine adjustment clasp system for improved comfort and ergonomics will be available at IWC boutiques or online at IWC.com. The five-link execution adds to the design’s purity and gives the watch a crisp and contemporary look. Beautifully shaped links combining polished and satin-finished surfaces have a visible presence and nicely reflect the light. The fine adjustment system makes the bracelet easy to adjust and comfortable to wear.
The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 will be available from May 2021 through IWC boutiques, authorised retail partners or online at IWC.com. All three references are eligible for registration under the My IWC care program and thus benefit from a 6-year extension to the standard 2-year International Limited Warranty.