Every IWC Schaffhausen collection has a unique story behind it. What better way to get to know this year’s stars – Pilot’s Watches – by speaking to one of IWC’s most important personalities who knows all about the product line’s development and relaunch, Hannes Pantli? For those who are in the haute horlogerie industry circle, Mr. Pantli is familiar as Board Member and Spokesperson for IWC Schauffhausen. For those who are new to this name, our interview with him will without doubt provide interesting insights into the Pilot’s Watches collection.
We began with the history of this ‘product family.’ Mr. Pantli said that the manufacturer produced its very first pilot’s watch in 1935 when there were no such products on the market, and so there was no particular target group of purchasers either. Recalling his own curiosity with regards to this episode, Mr. Pantli had wondered why a small town in Switzerland like Schauffhausen would make such a watch. His research led to the discovery that the two sons of the Homberger family, who owned the watch brand at that time, obtained their pilot’s license (the originals are kept in the watch manufacturer’s headquarters today) in London, 1933. It was their passion for aviation that led to the birth of the collection.
Mr. Pantli said that IWC Schauffhausen first created the Big Pilot's Watch for the German Air Force in 1940. After World War II, the Mark 10 and Mark 11 were manufactured for the Royal Air Force. The latter was also produced for the Air Forces of Canada, Australia and South Africa. The Pilot's Watches collection was officially launched with the Mark 15 and the line has been developed ever since.
After this prolific period, IWC wanted to create something more modern and up-to-date for the relaunch, said Mr. Pantli. It had in mind today's top pilots – the Top Gun pilots, whom everyone got to know through the 1986 motion picture. IWC contacted the U.S. Navy, which for the very first time, gave the watch manufacturer the license to use the name ‘Top Gun.’
In the 1940s, 50s and 60s, the pilot's watch was produced for professional use. Today, it is also appreciated as a masculine sports watch. With minutes on the outside of the dial and hours on the inside, its design recalled the original pilot's watches. The Miramar line in the new collection was named after the city where the first fighter jet school was founded, near San Diego in Southern California.
When asked about the BRIC economy, he expressed that the Pilot’s Watches collection was not relaunched just to target these new markets. Nowadays, as customers travel more and more, their taste for luxury goods have become increasingly global. Mr. Pantli went on to say that, after many years of being well established in China, IWC Schauffhausen is poised and ready for the rise of the Chinese economy.
For LUXOS readers, Mr. Pantli recommended the Big Pilot's Watch Top Gun Miramar featuring a ceramic case. He said that his personal favourite would have to be the Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun, with a northern and southern hemisphere moon phase display in addition to the namesake grand complication. The Top Gun timepieces are the sportiest in the collection, and the Spitfire watches have been redesigned for a more elegant look. Mr. Pantli emphasized that the Pilot's Watches collection, after decades of continuous development, has truly become an important product family today.
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