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IWC Watches

IWC Pilot Watches

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All About IWC Pilot Watches

IWC Schaffhausen, better known as IWC (International Watch Company), launched the Pilot series in 1936. With the introduction of the Special Pilot's Watch, IWC sealed its position as a leading aviation timekeeper. Their watches were designed to be practical and effective under different flying conditions for both commercial and specialized pilots.

The first IWC Special Pilot's Watch

IWC was a genuine pioneer in the arena of building watches for aviation. They focused on the creation of technically advanced watches developed exclusively for aviation from the beginning. Mid 20th century was witness to rapid developments in the fields of aviation and navigation. IWC capitalized on this new development and that it would become the inspiration behind the first IWC Special Pilot's watch.

Ernst Jakob Homberger was IWC's managing director during the 1930s. His two sons were passionate about airplanes, and they took up a big responsibility in the development of IWC's first "special watch for pilots" in 1936. The watch was powered by Caliber 83 and came with a shatterproof crystal. Its other features were a rotating bezel with an index for recording brief periods of time, high-contrast hands and numerals, and an anti-magnetic escapement. It was also made of titanium and ceramic that had the capability of withstanding temperature changes from –40 degrees Celsius to +40 degrees Celsius. The launch of this watch opened up a world of possibilities in the field of aviation timekeeping.

The IWC Big Pilot

In 1940, IWC released the famous Big Pilot's Watch 52 T.S.C with its oversized proportions designed to be worn over the sleeve of flying suits. The watch bore a close resemblance to the circular cockpit instruments that were seen in planes at the time. It was the biggest wristwatch IWC ever made, with a 55mm case diameter, a height of 16.5 mm, and a weight of 183 grams.

In 2002, IWC recreated the legendary Big Pilot's watch. They released a more modern interpretation of the watch with the latest mechanisms. This version was labeled Reference 5002, and it featured an automatic movement with an effective power reserve of 8.5 days. The IWC Big Pilot also had a monochrome power reserve indicator, with a date display above 6 o'clock. Both of these features were absent in the original IWC Big Pilot watch.

Though the 2002 version of the Big Pilot was smaller than the 1940 version, it had 46mm in diameter. The brown buffalo leather strap with intricate detailing elevated the look of the watch. Subsequent versions of the watch (Reference 5004) came with a black alligator leather strap with a red zone on the power reserve indicator to keep a track of power reserve.

The IWC Mark 11 series

Eight years after the launch of the IWC Big Pilot, the company developed its own service watch used for the Royal Air Force. A request for this watch came directly from the British Government, and it was a huge test for IWC. The model they created was nicknamed the IWC Mark 11. It was specifically designed to be astonishingly durable, anti-magnetic, and capable of high precision movements. In November 1949, the IWC mark 11 was supplied to the British Royal Airforce and other Commonwealth nations. It remained in service until 1981. In 1994, IWC replaced Mark 11 with Mark XII. The new watch had a 36mm case diameter, with a self-winding movement and a modern date display window. It used the Caliber 884 movement, which was based on the significant Jaeger-leCoultre 889/2 movement. 

In 1999, the updated Mark XV was introduced. It featured a large case of 38mm. It came with an updated ETA 2892 movement, the Calibre 37524.

Over the years, IWC has launched many new lines and models. Some have been more successful than others, and a few have revolutionized the craft of watchmaking. 

The IWC Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph Edition Top Gun came out in 2007. It was the first watch bearing the name "Top Gun". The name for the watch was taken from a training course of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, the "Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor," also known by the legendary accolade "Top Gun". In 2012, the Top Gun collection became an independent line of the IWC Pilot's Watch family. There were further several notable new models added to the collection in 2019.

The IWC Big Pilot Watch IW500901 is a very popular vintage-themed watch from IWC. Big Pilot Watches have been the flagship model of the Pilot series from its very beginning. This IWC pilot chronograph comes with an automatic winding movement and other notable features such as 7-day power backup and a date display. 

The successful IWC Pilot watch series was built keeping in mind professional pilots' needs. Their designs and mechanisms were created to withstand and work well under the extreme pressures of space. The pilot's unique elements, such as luminous hands and numerals that contrast sharply with the dark body design, ensure reading under harsh settings. These premium pilot watches are constructed of ceramic and titanium to withstand high levels of air pressure and acceleration. Since its launch, it has remained a favorite of both pilots and watch connoisseurs alike.

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