This year marks the 80th anniversary of the IWC Pilot’s Watch as well as the line’s revamping for SIHH 2016, and the brand seems intent on tapping into its quite illustrious history. The new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch is not getting any major redesign, but there are several aesthetic changes that overall work well and succeed in tapping into said history. You’ve also got the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph, which has some design changes of its own being made to “freshen” up the look by, somewhat ironically, looking to the past for visual cues.
The new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. IW500912) sees the return of the triangular index back below the chapter ring at 12 o’clock. A simple move by the brand, but I personally think that this looks a lot cleaner than having the triangle wedged up top (I always thought it looked like someone squeezing into a seat on a crowded train that can’t quite fully accommodate them). The “9” also returns, which I like rather than a unnumbered hour marker. If you look carefully, you’ll notice the numerals are bolder than the old model and the five minute markers are narrower. What hasn’t changed is the power reserve dial and the date window at 6 o’clock.
As with the new Pilot Watches, there is a Santoni calfskin strap on this watch, this one in black. In terms of the movement, it is unchanged and the IWC Big Pilot Watch still uses the automatic 51111 Calibre, operating at 3 Hz and providing 7 days power reserve. Also unchanged, unlike many new Pilot Watches, are the case dimensions which are still 46mm wide and 16mm high. The watch is water resistant to 60 meters.
As for the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph (Ref. IW377709 and Ref. IW377710), the most obvious change is one that’s affected much of the Pilot Watch line – the removal of the triple date window. The seemingly superfluous design element is now replaced with a more-classic looking single day and date window. Also gone are the small 5-minute indicators on the outer chapter ring which always looked a bit awkward and cluttered.
The movement and case are unchanged, with the automatic 79320 Calibre. It operates at 4Hz and will provide 44 hours of power reserve. The stainless steel case is still 43mm wide (IWC always makes their chronographs smaller than non-chronographs) and 15mm high, providing 60 meters of water resistance.
There’s also a significantly smaller variant of the design being offered at the same time — in 48 mm. To be frank I am not sure that it makes much sense to call a 48 mm watch “more practical” or even “more wearable” — I mean, in for a dime, in for a buck; I think this is probably more a question of how much of a statement you want to create, rather than practicality per se (about that we’ll have a great deal more to say after the whole collection debuts later this month). On the other hand, the movement differs; the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 utilizes the IWC grade 59215, that is the same movement used in the Portuguiser Hand-Wound 8 Days. The 48 also has a date screen (unlike the 55). Consequently, the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 has an eight-day power reserve; the balance runs at a contemporary 28,800 vph, in 30 stone, with stop seconds. The energy reserve is situated on the rear of the motion, and to make it be seen there’s a little viewing port from the case back; this really is small enough that antimagnetic protecting is not compromised.The Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 is priced at $13,400, and there’ll be 1,000 pieces worldwide.Check out the present condition of the Pilot’s Watch sets at IWC but keep in mind, in a couple weeks, it’s going to seem very different.
For the IWC Big Pilot Watch Ref. IW500912 price is $12,900. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph comes on either a Santoni calfskin strap (Ref. IW377709) with a price of $4,950 or on a stainless steel bracelet (Ref. 377710) with a price of $5,950. iwc.com