This year, IWC is launching yet another world-first that fits in particularly well with the subject of flying: the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph is the first timepiece where a new time zone, including the date, can be set merely by turning the bezel. And finally, as every year, we have the exclusive ‘Antoine de Saint Exupéry’ and ‘Le PetitPrince’ collections. Their appeal lies in their original design ideas, such as the special annual calendar.”
Among the eye-catchers of the current collection are undoubtedly the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (Ref. IW510401) and the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 (Ref. IW510301). They are clearly inspired by earlier IWC Pilot’s Watches, and not only because of their enormous case diameters of 55 and 48 millimetres. Christian Knoop, CreativeDirector at IWC Schaffhausen: “For us, it was vital from the start that the Heritage watches were true to the original – from the design of the dial and the colour of the luminescent numerals to the shape of the propeller-like hands and the riveted calfskin straps. It’s like jumping back in time to the pioneering age of aviation, except that we’ve got state-of-the-art IWC watch technology.” And that, apart from IWC-manufactured calibres, includes features such as a sliding clutch to protect hand-wound movements from overwinding, titanium cases and the soft-iron inner case as protection against magnetic fields. Christian Knoop: “Integrating protection against magnetic fields in the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 with its see-through back visibly combines our tradition and manufacturing expertise.”
For IWC’s engineers, creating the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph (Ref. IW395001) meant bringing together three technologies: the city ring from the Pilot’s Watch Worldtimer; a sprung rotating bezel, which cannot be moved inadvertently; and, from IWC’s latest Aquatimer generation, the external/internal rotating bezel mechanism that transfers the rotational movement to the inside of the watch. The result is a world time watch that shows its owner a new time zone and the time of day together with the 24-hour display and the new date, all with a simple twist of the wrist. The Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronographis fitted with a calfskin strap.
“We are now supplying almost all our Pilot’s Watches with top-quality calfskin straps from Santoni,” explains Creative Director Christian Knoop. “By doing so, we are bridging the gap between tradition and contemporary elegance – straps for pilot’s watches were always made of hard-wearingcalfskin or cowhide. It was the material used for the straps on the Big Pilot’s Watch. But we wouldn’t be IWC if we didn’t make our straps an experience in their own unique right. On the outside, they have the typical Santoni patina that makes completely new leather look as if it had severalyears of careful use behind it. The brand is then made even more recognizable by the soft, orange leather lining. In addition to this, we offer the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfireand the new Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36 with partially polished stainless-steel bracelets, which makes the Pilot’s Watch collection even more attractive and elegant.”
In the entry-level segment of the new Pilot’s Watch collection, IWC has widened the choice for watch lovers who prefer timepieces to be slightly smaller and more elegant. With a case measuring 36 millimetres in diameter, the Pilot’sWatch Automatic 36 (Ref. 3240) is the smallest watch in the manufacturer’s current collection. The elegant, timelessly designed three-hand watch is intended for watch lovers with a slimmer wrist. The dial design of the five models, which come with a choice of three different dials, is reduced and uncluttered.
The “Antoine de Saint Exupéry” and “Le Petit Prince” collections play a special role in the Pilot’s Watch line. IWC Schaffhausen has created a memorial to the French author and pilot, and to his most famous work, “The Little Prince”, every year since 2006 and 2013, respectively. Throughout his life, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was torn between flying and writing, between technology and poetry. Now, IWC’s engineers and the designers of the Big Pilot’s Watch AnnualCalendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” (Ref. IW502701) have succeeded in uniting the two worlds. They modelled the solid gold rotor at the back of the watch to show the famous image of the little prince standing on his tiny asteroid and regarding the heavens with wide-open eyes. At the same time, he turns on his own axis and provides the power needed by the watch. In 2016, three unlimited Pilot’sWatches are likewise decked out with the midnight blue dial of the Edition “Le Petit Prince”: the Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. IW500916), the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph (Ref. IW377714) and the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII (Ref. IW327004). And with the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry” (Ref. IW503801) and the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry” (Ref. IW371808), IWC’s designers have put together a striking assembly of immediately recognizable timepieces. Both models have a tobacco brown dial and a calfskin strap with cream-coloured ornamental seams that serve as a reminder of Saint-Exupéry’s flying suit.
In 2016, IWC Schaffhausen also presents the new Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII (Ref. IW327001/IW327002/IW327011) as an entry-level model with a calfskin strap or stainless-steel bracelet. Unlike its predecessor, the Mark XVII, it no longer features the triple date display. Optically speaking, this provides more space on the dial and the watch appears cleaner, despite the fact that the diameter of the case, at 40 millimetres, is one millimetre smaller compared with the previousmodel.
Christian Knoop, Creative Director at IWC Schaffhausen, explains: “When designing the dials for the classic Pilot’s Watches, we had one thing in mind: how could we get closer to the originals established by IWC in the form of the Big Pilot’s Watch and the Mark 11? Because we wanted to get back to an authentic, or historic, Pilot’s Watch look. And that stands or falls on the clarity of the dial, timeless simplicity and a reduction to the essential. Our entire range of Pilot’s Watches is inspired by the original. That is also why we decided to bring back the figure ‘9’, which disappeared from the dial in 2006 with the redesign of the Big Pilot’s Watch. The triangular index has also reassumed its familiar position at ‘12 o’clock’, just below the chapter ring.”
The design team came to the same decision with the triple date display, which was introduced as part of the redesign of the Pilot’s Watches in 2012. In the same way, the dials of the Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. IW500912) and the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph (Ref. IW377709/IW377710) have been slightly reworked to restore the feature that had made the classic Pilot’s Watches so special: clarity and outstanding legibility, whatever the visibility. Both watches are fitted with a calfskin strap, and the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is also available with a stainless-steel bracelet.
The Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN (Ref. IW502001) now features a case diameter that has shrunk to 46 millimetres. For the dial, IWC’s designers decided to do away with the small, signal red aircraft silhouette in favour of a clean, uncluttered watch face. The triangular index above the logo is an additional design element that draws the viewer’sattention. The Top Gun logo on the reverse side is engraved into the case back and is considerably more discreet than the old, coloured imprint. For the TOP GUN watches, the black soft straps have been exchanged in favour of sporty straps made of embossed black calfskin. In the case of the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN (Ref. IW502902), the embossed calfskin strap is the only real modification compared with last year’s model.For the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN (Ref. IW389001), the triple date display was abandoned and the ceramic case reduced from 46 to 44 millimetres. Thanks to the IWC-manufactured 89361 calibre, the chronograph displays stopped minutes and hours on the subdial at “12 o’clock”. This is significantly more user-friendly than the old aggregate timing.
The diameter of the ceramic case of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Miramar (Ref. IW389002) is now reduced to 44 millimetres, and IWC has also fitted the model with a simple date display. The combined hour-and-minute counter can be read like the time of day and is much more convenient than the conventional solutions. A new addition to the Pilot’s Watch squadron is the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII TOP GUN Miramar (Ref. IW324702). The 41-millimetre timepiece is based on the traditional design of IWC Pilot’s Watches, where the main priority was optimum legibility of the seconds and minutes. Another new feature is the sporty strap made of embossed green calfskin. Connoisseurswill no doubt remember that for many decades the Mark 11 was supplied with green nylon straps that were also known as “Nato straps”.
The new Big Pilot’s Watch Spitfire (Ref. IW500917) now comes in 18-carat red gold. But the hands, characteristic cone-shaped crown and back of the watch are also made of this warm, glowing precious metal. It all makes this superb timepiece the ideal companion for any gala event, where it is predestined to attract admiring glances, and not just because of its 46-millimetre case diameter. The slight reworking of the dial with the triangle below the chapter ring and the bold numerals are clearly visible in this watch, too. The Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar DigitalDate- Month Spitfire (Ref. IW379108) in stainless steel remains a highly regarded member of the IWC Spitfire familyin 2016. It is virtually unchanged and features unusual complications such as the large digital date and month displays and the perpetual calendar. A sporty, elegant timepiece for everyday use, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire (Ref. IW377719) not only has a new, simple date display; a day display is now integrated into the dial. Another new feature is the elegant stainless-steel bracelet.
Georges Kern sums up the highlights of the 2016 collection: “With the sheer choice of models in the Pilot’sWatch collection we’re also appealing to watch lovers who have until now dismissed the idea of an IWC watch. With the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36 and the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII, we have widened the range of models in the entry-level segment. At the other end of the scale, we’ve created sizeable, authentic pilot’s watches that resemble the historicoriginal but are more in line with modern ideas of comfort. Between these two extremes, we offer our customers innovative complications like the Timezoner, elegant classics like the Pilot’s Watch Spitfire and imaginative details like the rotor in the annual calendar. With the polished bezels, the Santoni alligator leather and calfskin straps and the partly polished stainless-steel bracelets, the new Pilot’s Watch collection has become even more attractive and elegant.”
PILOT’S WATCHES SINCE 1936
The very first IWC Pilot’s Watches of the 1930s and 1940s set technical benchmarks, and their dial design determined the overall appearance that has remained so distinctive to this day. During the pioneering days of aviation, most pilots had to navigate with the help of pocket watches, because special wristwatches for pilots were still few and far between. By contrast, the first Special Pilot’s Watch, built by IWC in 1936, already featured a rugged glass, a rotating bezel with an arrowhead index for instantaneous legibility and an antimagnetic escapement, together with high-contrast,luminescent hands and numerals.
Following the Special Pilot’s Watch, IWC produced the Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C.) with an IWC-manufactured movement and large seconds. With a case measuring 55 millimetres in diameter and weighing in at 183 grams, until 2016 it was the most voluminous wristwatch ever made by IWC. In terms of precision, it met chronometer standards and the technical demands placed on a navigation watch back in those days.
This instrument look was the inspiration for IWC’s design of the Mark 11 with its hand-wound 89 calibre, produced from 1948 onwards. This, the best known of the Pilot’s Watches from the Schaffhausen-based manufacturer, was originally built for the Royal Air Force and used for more than 30 years. Its movement is enclosed in a soft-iron inner case to shield the movement from magnetic fields.
In 1988, the Pilot’s Watch tradition was taken up and perpetuated by the Pilot’s Chronograph. This was followed in 1992 by the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph with a split-seconds mechanism and automatic winding. In 1994, the Mark XII Pilot’s Watch succeeded the Mark 11. As was to be expected, it was a state-of-the-art timepiece featuring an automatic movement and date display. That same year, with the unveiling of the Pilot’s Chronograph Ceramic, IWC set two trends in motion that were later to be taken up gratefully by the watchmaking industry. Firstly, there was the exciting design of a pilot’s watch that was completely black. Secondly, it was the first time this model from IWC had been made with ceramic, which is enormously difficult to machine. In 1998, the Pilot’s Watch UTC – where changesto both the time and date can be made via the crown – was IWC’s reaction to growing mobility in an increasingly globalized world.
In 2002, IWC re-established its Big Pilot’s Watch tradition when it unveiled an enormous timepiece with a 7-day movement and Pellaton automatic winding system, the design of which was clearly inspired by that of the early Pilot’s Watch.
In 2003, IWC began producing a Pilot’s Watch series named after the legendary British aircraft, the Spitfire. The outstanding role played by the most successful British fighter and reconnaissance plane of all time in the Battle of Britain granted the aircraft – of which more were built than any other British plane – lasting cult status in its home country. In its day, the Spitfire was a technological masterpiece of timeless elegance and became the model on which the eponymous IWC watch family was based.
Since 2006, IWC has been honouring the life’s work of French poet and pilot Antoine de Saint-Exupéry with specialeditions of its Pilot’s Watches. Saint-Exupéry was already a legend in his own lifetime. People are fascinated as much by his books, which have been translated into more than 50 languages, as by his adventurous life and his inherent passion for flying. During the Second World War, he was a fighter pilot against the occupying German forces.On 31 July 1944, Saint-Ex, as he was fondly referred to by his admirers, climbed into the cockpit of his Lightning P-38 to carry out a reconnaissance mission over occupied France. He never returned. In 2003, wreckage from his Lightning was salvaged from the Mediterranean near Marseilles.
In 2007, the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition TOP GUN joined the other members of the IWC Pilot’s Watch squadron. It takes its name from a special training course offered by the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor, better known by its legendary accolade Top Gun. Anyone who successfully completes this course is part of a tiny elite comprising the best-trained, fastest-reacting and most courageous pilots in the world.
The demands placed on the young pilots are no less exacting than those on the materials that propel them above the clouds at supersonic speeds – materials that cannot afford to show any sign of weakness. This is another reason why the designers chose two materials that IWC was the first manufacturer in the world to use in watchmaking: high-tech ceramic for the case and titanium for the case back and controls.
IWC Schaffhausen declared 2012 another Year of the Pilot’sWatches. With five new models at a stroke, the TOP GUN collection established itself as an independent line within the IWC Pilot’s Watch family. Inspired by the spirit of the Top Gun flying school in Miramar, California, two Miramarmodels in the TOP GUN collection were the first to feature an authentic military design. With its modernized look, new features and IWC-manufactured movements, the Spitfire squadron prepared for a vertical take-off. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Classics collection appeared with five models in the authentic cockpit design.
The new 2016 Pilot’s Watch collection will no doubt be as warmly received by lovers of authentic Pilot’s Watches as by admirers of elegant contemporary timepieces and rare complications.
With a clear focus on technology and development, the Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen has been producing timepieces of lasting value since 1868. The company has gained an international reputation based on a passion for innovative solutions and technical ingenuity. One of the world’s leading brands in the luxury watch segment, IWC crafts masterpieces of haute horlogerie at their finest, combining supreme precision with exclusive design. As an ecologically and socially responsible company, IWC is committed to sustainable production, supports institutions around the globe in their work with children and young people, and maintains partnerships with organizations dedicated to climate and environmental protection.