With every new collection, IWC extends the frontiers, introducing new materials, new functions and new design features. Here are two examples from IWC’s 2016 collection of pilot’s watches, currently available in boutiques worldwide.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Top Gun Miramar, reference IW324702, is a new addition to the Pilot’s Watch range, and it is an intensely satisfying piece. It has a lot of historical validity, because the basic design reflects one of the wartime B-Uhr patterns – type B – that a number of suppliers, including IWC, made for air forces in the 1940s. The dial is beautiful in its logic, with the hour hand corresponding exactly to the inner hour ring with its thin red line, while the minute hand has its own scale at the edge of the dial. As was the case for the 1940s military watches, the Mark XVIII Top Gun Miramar has the stop-seconds function, so that the seconds hand stops running when you pull out the crown to set the time. This enables the watch to be synchronized to perfection. In the day, it was fundamental for mission coordination: nowadays it’s more useful as a way of checking how accurately the watch is running.
In addition to these traditional characteristics, the watch is very modern, with American military colours and a strap that has the NATO strap texture, but is actually in embossed calfskin, so tough and comfortable. The self-winding movement, IWC 30110, provides 42 hours power reserve. As is typical for pilot’s watches, the movement is protected against magnetic fields by a soft-iron inner case. It is perfect as an everyday watch, with a 41 mm case, relatively slim at 11 mm, and a 6 bar water resistance ensuring that the watch is safe even if you get caught out in a storm. The caseback is in steel, and it bears the evocative engraving of the United States Navy Top Gun Fighter Weapons School. The watch is available in IWC boutiques and retailers at a price of €6,150, £4,290.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun, reference IW389001, has a similar combination of historical validity and contemporary sophistication. In this piece the historical point of reference is the Type A B-Uhr pattern, with a single set of numerals at the edge of the dial, with generous areas of SuperLumiNova for good visibility in low light conditions. IWC have added the chronograph function to this basic pattern, and their layout is perhaps one of the most practical of all. The chronograph seconds hand is at the centre of the dial, while chronograph minutes and hours are totalised on the top subdial. At a glance, you can see immediately how many hours and minutes have passed. It’s much easier than the usual bicompax or tricompax arrangement in which minutes are on one subdial, hours on another. IWC’s layout in this watch has another advantage: with a little bit of care, the watch can be set up to indicate a second time zone on the top subdial. You just have to leave the chronograph running. The chronograph has a column wheel and a vertical clutch, the most refined chronograph mechanism. Leaving the chronograph running has no adverse effects either on wear or on power uptake.
The subdial at 6 o’clock is for continuous seconds. In this 2016 pilot’s watch collection by IWC, the date window has been modified, abandoning the vertical triple-numeral window to a smaller window showing a single numeral. Christian Knoop, Creative Director at IWC Schaffhausen, explained the logic behind this change. “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.”
Another difference with respect to the previous version of this IWC classic is a slightly smaller case diameter, now at 44 mm. The piece is super-tough, with high-tech zirconium oxide ceramic used for the case, and titanium for the pushers and back. The result is strong, light, anti-magnetic and anti-allergic. It is supplied with an embossed black calfskin strap and a stainless steel folding clasp.
The movement is a masterpiece. The chronograph has the flyback function, so that when the chronograph is running, you can press the reset pusher, and the stopwatch hands flick back to zero and simultaneously beging recording another time interval. The continuous seconds hand on the lower subdial can be stopped to synchronise the watch when setting the time. The watch is powered by the IWC 89361 calibre, a manufacture movement providing 68 hours’ power reserve. In this piece, the watch has a solid caseback, because the movement is protected from magnetic fields by a soft-iron inner case.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun costs €12,400, £8,650, excellent value considering the quality of the movement and the brand’s pedigree. For boutique information, see http://www.luxos.com/stores/, or visit the brand website http://www.iwc.com/