This watch is one of IWC’s purest pilot watch designs, with just the date and power reserve subdial added to the classic layout. The 2016 version presented at SIHH in January has been slightly reduced in size, from 48 to 46 mm, 15 mm thick, with black ceramic case, titanium caseback and screw-in conical crown. It has an embossed calfskin strap, more robust and hardwearing than the nylon in the 2012 version, and a stainless steel folding clasp. The red jet fighter counterweight on the seconds hand has been removed.
The watch is powered by the in-house 51111 calibre, which is one of IWC’s largest movements, running at 21,600 vibrations per hour, 3 Hertz. The space available makes it possible to have a comparatively large mainspring, so that power reserve is over 7 days, automatically limited to 168 hours (exactly 7 days) so that the watch runs with optimum precision during the segment of power with sufficient torque. The crown provides the stop-second function, to make it easier to set the watch to the second. The movement is protected against magnetic fields by a soft iron inner case.
The 51111 calibre has a long history, running back to the pocket watch Calibre IWC introduced in 1888, modified to become the Calibre 52 in 1893, and adapted again to create the Calibre 52T for IWC’s famous 1940 B-Uhr watch. In 2000, the Calibre 5000 was a similar 18,000 vph pocket-watch movement used in a wristwatch, and the Calibre 5011 came soon after, with central seconds and date. The 51111 follows in the same tradition, combining the brand’s pocket watch traditions with modern features such as the Pellaton winding system.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun IW502001 costs €14,700 incl. tax, £10,750 incl. VAT. Available from April 2016.