Undeniably, the so-called Big Pilot’s Watch is IWC Schaffhausen; the reverse is true as well.
The brand has been known for its large, strikingly legible pieces which it started to purvey arguably ahead of everyone else. The pilot watch, in particular, was first presented in the Mid-‘30s “for civil aviation purposes.” Even then, it was “particularly robust and resistant to fluctuations in temperature in the range of – 40 degrees Celsius to + 40 degrees Celsius, and was also anti-magnetic,” said the company in a release.
After a lengthy development process, IWC in 2002 presented “Ref. 5002” – a robust-looking, 46.2-millimeter timepiece that was 15.2mm thick and weighed 150 grams. It must be mentioned that this piece, in turn, was inspired by a 1940s monster 55mm military observation watch which remains, to this day, the largest wristwatch made by IWC.
Aside from being able to tell the time at a glance, these were true aviator watches – fitted with oversized crowns to enable pilots to “adjust their watches even when wearing their padded flight gloves.”
IWC continues to pays homage to the line by revealing at the digital staging of Watches & Wonders (WAW) “a faithful interpretation of the iconic observation watch design.” Company CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr averred that the Big Pilot has essentially transformed from a tool watch to a “modern design icon.”
The new Big Pilot’s Watch 43 (Ref. IW3293) now comes with a slightly smaller but still substantial 43mm stainless steel case. Powering it is the company’s mechanical 82100 movement with Pellaton winding – visible through its sapphire glass caseback. It has 60 hours of power reserve, a screw-in crown, and glass that is “secured against displacement caused by drops in air pressure.” Water resistance is rated at 100 meters.
On its face is either a black or blue dial – set off by rhodium-plated hands – noticeably bereft of both date window and power reserve display. The black-dialed piece comes with a leather strap; the blue-dialed one with a strap or bracelet.
The familiar white triangle flanked by dots supplants the “12” (for the easy reckoning of aviators) – helping to make the timepiece an unrivaled study in legibility and purity. Its sans-serif Arabic numerals are lumed with Super-Luminova.
During his presentation at WAW, Grainger-Herr maintained that while the model continues the legacy of the original, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is all-new and reflects improvements based on feedback – particularly with regard to wearability.
The side of the case has been “recalibrated,” the crown redesigned so as “not to be felt on the skin,” and the case shaved down to 43mm so the timepiece sits easier on the wrist. IWC also makes it easier for wearers to change straps or bracelets with its EasX-CHANGE system.
What’s obvious is that it’s still a hulk of a watch – imbued with the key features that have endeared the piece (and the brand) to many fans and aspirants such as the conical crown, and the four rivets on the strap.
IWC said that, at the end of the day, the newest iteration is about adding a new chapter to the success story. “With the Big Pilot’s Watch 43, we have returned to the extreme purity of the original observation watch designed more than 80 years ago and created a simple three- hand watch with no other elements on the dial. Despite its reduced size, the 43-millimeter case combines a bold look with great wearing comfort,” underscored IWC Creative Director Christian Knoop.
That’s certainly big news.