IWC has presented three new pilot’s watches that will be available from November 2017. The most accessible is the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII, in a titanium case for the first time. In design, it is very close to IWC’s 1940 Big Pilot’s Watch, the legendary reference 431 (scroll down for photo) that was 55 mm in diameter and 17.5 mm thick. The new IW327006 is 40mm in diameter and 10.8 mm thick, making it wearable on most wrists.
IW327006 – a few differences with respect to the original
Apart from size and case material, the new IW327006 makes some concessions to contemporary watch tastes. First, a self-winding movement. Calibre 35111, based on the Sellita SW300-1, provides a 42-hour hour reserve. The original reference 431 was powered by the hand-wound calibre 52T S.C., a variant of IWC’s pocket watch movement Calibre 52, which had been modified for the central seconds hand (hence Seconde au Centre, S.C.) and the stop-seconds function (tirette, abbreviation T in 52T). The Sellita movement also provides the stop-seconds function, and the date. The window for the date, the texts on the dial, and the cylindrical crown, are the most noticeable design differences with respect to the reference 431.
The IW327006 has a brown calfskin strap, a solid caseback, and a soft-iron inner case to provide protection against magnetic fields – another feature shared with the reference 431. The case has a better-than-average water resistance of 6 bar, and the watchglass is secured against drops in air pressure. The 431 had “FL 23883” stamped on the side of the case, a feature that can be found in Flieger watches by a few other brands, but not in pieces by IWC. Their creative director Christian Knoop has always said that IWC don’t make replica watches, but always introduce something new.
As the watch has a third-party movement, it has a relatively accessible price, €4,830. This may seem a little high in comparison with other classic pilot’s watches, but IWC is a luxury brand and noblesse oblige.
Price and availability
The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Heritage by IWC Schaffhausen is reference IW327006, and it costs €4,830. Available from November 2017 in IWC boutiques and from authorized IWC retailers.
Below, the Big Pilot’s Watch, reference 431, dating back to 1940.