For over 80 years, IWC’s Pilot’s Watches have been bringing the magic of flight to all those who wear them.
These prestigious watches from Schaffhausen, with their characteristic instrument design that dates back to iconic navigation watches like the Mark 11, will also be the highlight of the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer’s appearance at the forthcoming Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH), which takes place in Geneva from 14th to 17th January 2019.
IWC has chosen the Goodwood estate in southern England as the venue for unveiling the first new products in the run-up to the exhibition. At the same time, IWC is announcing a partnership of several years with Goodwood Aviation. Goodwood Aviation provides an array of aircraft maintenance services and each year handles around 18,000 flights on the Goodwood Aerodrome. The aerodrome is also home to the Boultbee Flight Academy, the world’s first official Spitfire flying academy. It’s also from here that Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones will embark on the first round-the-world flight in a Spitfire this coming summer. IWC is supporting the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project as its main sponsor (please find more detailed information in separate article). The history of this aerodrome is closely linked to that of the Spitfire: Between 1940 and 1946, the Royal Air Force’s Goodwood airfield, or RAF Westhampnett as it was known then, served as an extension to the nearby RAF Tangmere airfield.
The Spitfire, designed by Reginald J. Mitchell, is one of the most sophisticated developments in the history of aviation. The iconic shape of the legendary British fighter aircraft is the result of a perfectly functional design; its elliptical wings not only make the propeller plane extraordinarily agile and easy to manoeuvre, they also give it its unique silhouette. The characteristic instrument design of IWC’s Pilot’s Watches likewise was the result of engineering to the specific requirements of military aviation (please find more detailed information in separate article).
Just like the Spitfire, the IWC watch collection of the same name also perfectly combines form and function. The design is inspired by the iconic Mark 11 navigation watch. To celebrate the unique engineering expertise of the Spitfire designers, all watches are fitted with IWC-manufactured calibres.
A particular highlight of the collection is the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight” (ref. IW395501). For the first time ever at IWC, it combines the patented Timezoner mechanism with an entirely automatic IWC-manufactured movement and is limited to just 250 watches.
This special edition is dedicated to the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project. It has been specially developed for pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones to coincide with their flight around the world in a Spitfire. The colour scheme of the watch design, with its stainless steel case, its black dial and its green textile strap, is reminiscent of the cockpit of a Spitfire.
The watch can be set to a different time zone by means of a simple rotational movement of the bezel. The hour hand, the 24-hour display and the date rotate automatically at the same time. The 24-hour display has been designed as a rotating disc beneath the dial. This means that the dial moves closer to the front glass, making it easier to read. The newly developed 82760 IWC-manufactured calibre has a Pellaton winding with components made from wear-resistant ceramic and boasts a power reserve of 60 hours.
The backbone of the new Spitfire line is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire (ref. IW387902). IWC is presenting its first Pilot’s Chronograph with a movement from the 69000 calibre family and a reduced case diameter of just 41 millimetres.
The 69000 calibre family, first introduced in 2016, constitutes one of the most important developments in IWC-manufactured movements in IWC’s early history. Now, for the first time, IWC has incorporated a member of this calibre family into its Pilot’s Watches. The 69380 IWC-manufactured calibre is a robust, reliable and high-precision chronograph movement with a classic column wheel design. The stopped hours and minutes are displayed on the two subdials at “9 o’clock” and “12 o’clock”. It also features a date and day display. The pawl-winding system, which winds up on both sides, boasts a power reserve of 46 hours. The bronze case, the olive green dial and the brown calf leather strap give this chronograph a unique character. Over time, the bronze develops a special patina, making each and every watch a unique piece.
The TOP GUN watches, which IWC has been producing since 2007, take their name from the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program in the U.S. Navy. This training programme provides the best Navy pilots with flying and tactical training. Naval aviation requires extreme skill. When manoeuvring in tight curves, for example, both the pilots and the aircraft are subjected to maximum acceleration forces. Spending months at a time on aircraft carriers also takes its toll on personnel and material.
The TOP GUN watches are therefore specially designed with robust materials, such as ceramic and titanium, to meet the specific requirements of elite jet pilots. The matte black ceramic case, for example, ensures that pilots are not distracted by sunlight reflecting off their watches during the flight. The hard and scratch- resistant ceramic is perfectly suited to daily use in a confined aircraft cockpit and can also withstand extreme G-forces. Ceramic and titanium are also extremely corrosion-resistant and can withstand humid, salty sea air.
The new TOP GUN line sees IWC make use of the innovative new material Ceratanium® for the first time in a Pilot’s Watch; and in the shape of the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium (ref. IW371815), the company is bringing to market its first ever pilot’s watch to be completely jet black.
Developed by IWC, Ceratanium® is a material that combines the advantages of titanium and ceramic in a groundbreaking new composition. The patented material is as lightweight and unbreakable as titanium and at the same time as hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic. It is also characterised by its excellent skin compatibility, its high degree of corrosion-resistance and its matte black colour. This has enabled us to create our first completely black design, without a coating, including all watch components such as push-buttons or pin buckles (more detailed information in separate article).
The double chronograph has an integrated split-seconds hand mechanism for simultaneously measuring short periods of time. It is powered by the 79230 calibre with self-winding mechanism and boasts a power reserve of 44 hours. The watch, with its black dial and black hands, sits on a rubber strap and textile inlay.
Ceratanium® is a trademark of IWC Schaffhausen, registered in numerous countries throughout the world.
Since 2005, IWC has been in collaboration with the family of French aviator and author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This partnership has already seen a variety of special editions launched within the Pilot’s Watches collection. While some pay tribute to the life and accomplishments of the great humanist himself, others are dedicated to his most famous literary work “The Little Prince” (Le Petit Prince). These timepieces, characterised by their distinctive midnight blue dials, have been a highly regarded addition to the Pilot’s Watch collections since 2013. And at the upcoming SIHH, the manufacturer will now be adding some exclusive models to this line.
One such model is the Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW590303). It is the first pilot’s watch from IWC to feature a constant- force tourbillon. It is available with a hard gold case and is limited to 10 watches.
This is the first time IWC has produced a watch with hard gold, a special new version of red gold. The microstructure of the alloy is modified in a sophisticated manufacturing process. Hard gold is therefore significantly harder and around 5 to 10 times more wear-resistant than conventional red gold. As a result, the material is perfectly suited to the large case and the crown of a Big Pilot’s Watch.
The patented constant-force tourbillon is the IWC engineers’ answer to a centuries-old challenge in the field of watchmaking: As the tension in the spring of a mechanical wristwatch slackens over time, less force is transferred to the escapement via the dial train, which in turn decreases the amplitude of the balance. This has a negative impact on the precision of the watch. The patented constant-force mechanism separates the escapement from the direct flow of force from the dial train and with every second re-tensions a balance spring, which serves as a temporary store of energy and transfers absolutely even force pulses to the escape wheel. Integrated into a tourbillon, which also eliminates the influence of gravity on the oscillating system, the result is extraordinary precision.
The IWC-manufactured calibre 94805 combines a constant-force tourbillon with a perpetual moon phase display, which takes 577.5 years to require adjustment by one day. The “Petit Prince” stands on the moon. Two barrels store enough power for 96 hours. A display notifies the wearer of the remaining power reserve.