In the beginning of the aviation world, pilots didn’t have many choices for special wristwatches, so they relied heavily on pocket watches to tell the time. Thanks to IWC Schaffhausen’s first Special Pilot’s Watch which debuted in 1936, captains had more options for precise in-flight timekeeping. Since then, IWC became known as the pioneer manufacturers of aviation watches.
Throughout its long and illustrious history, the Swiss watch manufacturer has expanded its collection to include the Pilot’s Chronograph, Pilot’s Chronograph Ceramic and TOP GUN pieces — all of which further strengthened their long-held expertise in producing pilot watches.
This year, IWC continues their Pilot’s Watch collection journey with an array of sophisticated designs that boast innovation and exquisite materials. Most of the new designs come in exclusive calfskin and alligator leather straps handmade by Italian leather manufacturer, Santoni. Those who prefer the luxurious stainless steel bracelets, here’s good news: They now come in two choices — a full satin finish or polished two-row links. Special twin-coloured textile straps, inspired by the historic Nato straps, are also available for the Pilot’s Watches Chronograph and Pilot’s Watches Mark XVIII models.
Highlights from the IWC 2016 Pilot’s Watches collection
Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 and 55
When it comes to wristwatches, the Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C.) made in 1940 was undoubtedly IWC’s biggest design. This year, however, two new limited edition titanium models have been introduced as its successors. First, the prominent Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 is the larger version with a 55mm case. There’s also the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48, a smaller option with a 48mm case.
To transport wearers back to the pioneer days of aviation, much attention has been paid to the details. The hands are made to be propeller-like, and the historic calfskin straps, which allowed pilots to wear the watches over their thick flying suits, lend a nostalgic touch to the design.
Bearing in mind the modern day users’ needs, IWC’s engineers have turned to titanium instead of stainless steel that’s originally used in the Big Pilot’s Watch. As a result, the new pieces are light and suitable for everyday wear.
The Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 is limited to 100 pieces and the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 is limited to 1,000 pieces.
Following the success of its Special Pilot’s Watch and Big Pilot’s Watch, IWC was approached by the Royal Air Force to devise a design that could withstand strong magnetic fields and fluctuating temperatures, as well as provide down-to-the-second accuracy for the pilot. This would later become the Navigators Wrist Watch Mark 11 — a temperature- and water-resistant timepiece manufactured from 1948 to 1981 for military use. Today, it’s become a much coveted item on collectors’ wish list.
Unveiling a new episode for this remarkable design, IWC is ushering in three new entry-level models in stainless steel and either black or silver-plated dials. On the back of the watch is the engraving of a 1930s Junkers Ju 52 aircraft.
Two of the designs (Ref. IWC327001/IWC327002) come in a luxurious Santoni black calfskin strap that’s contrasted by an orange inner surface, while the third (Ref. IWC327011) comes in stainless steel bracelet for a modern appeal. Additionally, there’s the option of two-tone textile straps that make the Mark XVIII an easy match to your outfit.
Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36
The Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36, with a case diameter of 36mm, is the smallest watch in IWC’s current range and it’s perfect for those with slender wrists and favour smaller designs. Inspired by the original Mark 11, this unisex three-hand watch sports an uncomplicated dial with a recessed inner circle that sets a contemporary and 3D look for the timepiece.
The brilliant combination of a high shine polished bezel and slate-coloured dial with either elegant stainless-steel bracelet or dark brown Santoni alligator leather strap also promises to keep discerning watch lovers satisfied. Other dial colour options include a silver-plated dial and black printed numerals, and a blue dial that comes with a matching blue alligator leather strap from Santoni.
Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph
Headlining this year’s collection is the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph with its breakthrough innovation; no other brand has made it this effortless for wearers to switch between time zones by using just the bezel.
The chronograph lets owners change from one time zone to another by simply pushing down the bezel and turning it to the corresponding city. The easy press-rotate-release method is especially useful for travellers who constantly hop from one country to the next. 24 city names are indicated on the outer ring, with the addition of a small “S” to show the cities that recognise summer time — like London and New York.
If you’re worried that the bezel may accidentally rotate, you’ll be glad to know that IWC has used a sprung rotating bezel that was first used in the Porsche Design Ocean 2000. It securely prevents any inadvertent rotation. When rotating the bezel, the gear train in the watch whirl the hour hand to the correct time zone to show the new date and time. The Junkers Ju 52 is also engraved on the back as a tribute to the airplane which served as the most commonly used civilian aircraft in the 1930s.
“Le Petit Prince” Collections
If you haven’t heard of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, you’ll probably remember his famous work, The Little Prince. Paying tribute to the poet’s love for writing and flying — Antoine was also known as a pioneering aviator — IWC has launched the limited Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” as well as Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Le Petit Prince”, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince” and the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII Edition “Le Petit Prince”.
For the limited edition Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince”, the IWC-manufactured 52850 twin-barrel calibre powers the annual calendar’s display discs; when fully wound, it can last for a full week. This exclusive timepiece features red gold casing, hands and appliqués, as well as a Santoni dark brown calfskin strap for a masculine finish. You’ll still be able to read the time under difficult lighting, thanks to the hands and indicators that are specially coated with white Super-LumiNova for easy reading. On the sapphire-glass back, you’ll find The Little Prince standing on his asteroid.
Made with the IWC-manufactured 51111 calibre, the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Le Petit Prince” has a power reserve of over seven days and owners can count on the reserve display on its subdial to see the remaining time before the movement comes to a stop.
The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Le Petit Prince” is a new addition to the iconic Mark XVIII collection. This reference exhibits a simpler aesthetic as compared to its counterparts, but it still lends the same level of elegance with the midnight blue dial. Those who prefer sportier designs can turn to the Big Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince”, which is water-resistant and can be used as a stopwatch with an aggregate timing of up to 12 hours.
The Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” is limited to 250 pieces.
TOP GUN and TOP GUN Miramar
The TOP GUN edition watches have been part of IWC Schaffhausen’s Pilot’s Watch squadron since 2007, and they take their name from a special training course offered by the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, TOP GUN. Featuring a 46mm case, the TOP GUN Edition watches may have shrunk as compared to their predecessors but it’s updated its look with a new embossed black calfskin strap.
With their black cockpit design, attractive mix of materials, such as the use of high-tech ceramic for the case and titanium for the controls, and state-of-the-art watchmaking technology, the TOP GUN watches have made a name for themselves among aficionados of modern timepieces.
The Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN and the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN are smaller and neater than in previous years, while the watchmakers at IWC have fitted the chronographs with an in-house calibre. The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN now appears with a new strap.
Making its first debut in 2012, the TOP GUN Miramar line sports a distinctive military appearance — a reminder of the birthplace of the Top Gun legend: The United States Navy Fighter Weapons School in Miramar, California.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Miramar and Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII TOP GUN Miramar take on a new embossed green calfskin strap for an athletic appeal. The leather strap is also hardier than the nylon Nato strap, making it an appropriate everyday wristwatch.
IWC Schaffhausen boutiques are at #02-06, 2 Orchard Turn, Ion Orchard, and #B1-126, 2 Bayfront Avenue, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. For more information, call 6509 9640 (Ion Orchard boutique), 6688 7088 (Marina Bay Sands boutique) or visit www.iwc.com.