Today the good people of the International Watch Company unveiled their new range of pilots watches at the SIHH (Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie) watch trade fair in Geneva, Switzerland. As it so happens, I’m in attendance at the show and got a chance to check these guys out first hand. The Schaffhausen-based watchmaker released the Top Gun Miramar Chronograph Automatic (named for the location of the Top Gun USMC training base) in advance of the show, but today the company unveiled the full Pilot’s Watch collection – much to my enjoyment.
The first serious watch I ever purchased was an IWC Portuguese Automatic – something I started dreaming about when I was in my twenties. Eventually in my early thirties I was able to pull the trigger on the “watch of my dreams” and a shiny new IWC came home with me. Little did I know at the time, but buying watches is a slippery slope – though definitely an area I have become much more interested in after buying my first real watch. So now for better or worse, I have a list of watches that I want to own at some point. An Audemars Royal Oak, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso, everything from Rolex I don’t already have and finally an IWC Big Pilot.
At first the big pilot turned me off. That giant crown (which is the way it is so pilots could adjust the watch with their thick gloves before planes were pressurized and temperature controlled) was not for me. It was just too attention grabbing. Over time I have grown to love the Big Pilot and the new “Top Gun” version with ceramic case (image below) is an interesting update to the collection and a watch that is a new addition to my growing list of desired timepieces.
Big Pilot Top Gun (Reference 5019)
The Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN combines the classic functionality of the traditional Pilot’s Watch with state-of-the-art technology. High-tech materials and modern design elements. The compact 48-millimetre case is made of high-tech ceramic and the crown of titanium. The largest self-winding movement from IWC will continue running for 7 days.
I’ll be covering SIHH for the next few days from Geneva, so expect more watches and highlights from the fair. Live coverage as always, is happening behind the scenes on the ACL Twitter, and more and more on Instagram: @acontinuouslean
Comments on “SIHH 2012 | New IWC Pilot’s Collection”
Now I’ve got “Highway to the Danger Zone” stuck in my head. Chronographs are always a little too busy for my taste so the Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Miramar and the Big Pilot Top Gun (Reference 5019) are my favorites that were shown.
Huge fan of IWC, but I only have a Mark XV.. It’s my favorite watch (also have a vintage Speedmaster, modern Omega Aquaterra and a Seiko Samurai titanium for now) and I’m wearing it today.
Not sure how I feel about the date windows like they’re using in the new Mark XVII, but it’s still a great looking watch. The perpetual calendar pilot in the first photo is stunning! I also love that Spitfire Chrono in SS with the grey dial.
Damn You IWC… I’m already saving up for a Portuguese.. stop making gorgeous watches!…
I collect vintage IWCs but have no real interest in attempting to wear one of these tuna cans. In case you need a reality check, I swear I saw one on Tom Brokaw’s wrist recently while he was being interviewed (perhaps NH Primary?). Anyway, keeping his cuff agape was something of this magnitude, and with a great suit, I thought it looked incongruous, to say the least. Remember, not only were the stems large for gloved hands, the straps were long for wearing OVER your sleeve.
Those are beautiful watches. I am looking to move into the world of a serious watches, but I’d imagine these are going to be out of my price range. Do you guys have any recommendations for those of us a little bit more budget restrained?
^ If you are comfortable with it, there has always been a thriving market for second hand watches.
That’s my first suggestion. EXCELLENT prices can be had for vintage and rather new.
Second would be to shop around, go to authorized dealers for watches that you are interested in and narrow it down to what you like and try them on. Do not ever buy anything from an AD without a discount – there are some exceptions like Rolex which are never discounted and some special edition stuff that will be scooped up by collectors. I won’t buy from any dealer that won’t go a minimum of 30 percent off retail for a standard line watch like an Omega Seamaster, etc..
There are a lot of overseas dealers that are perfectly good, too, but you need to do your research. Zeetan at collectorstime.com is one of them.
This is my personal opinion, but I think the best value in a new watch today would be buying direct from Stowa in Germany.
Don’t rush into it.
I am definitely up for that Pilots double chronograph.
@Mike V – Thank you very much. Will be spending some time on Stowa today. Do you have recommendations of where to look for second hand pieces? Are there any good online locations for the second hand market?
^Start by going through the sales corner on timezone.com. Too much to choose from!
Guys â€” just make sure to be careful when you buy used / vintage watches.
Right. Like I said, do your research and don’t rush into it.
There’s no free lunch, and there’s no 1000 dollar Rolex Daytona.. :)
As stated above the TZ sales forum is a great place for used/vintage. An established community with a ton of knowledge.
Really love the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVII.
Any idea on prices?
I don’t get the three date window, you don’t know what precedes the fifteenth? Glad I bought my IWC’s way back when. Don’t believe that because you’re buying a “pilot” watch that it’s bullet proof, and everytime you send that piece of jewelry back to IWC for a cleaning it’ll set you back 500 clams, minimum.
Yeah, check out Stowa for a good pilot watch with similar looks, and you can get them without a logo, which imo is the way to go.
Big watches are a fad, and although I own a 45mm Planet Ocean- for you know, those days I dive 2000 feet… my everyday go to watch is a Speedy Moon. 40mm, just right, plenty of heritage. For, you know, those days I’m on an Apollo mission.
re: prices. The Mark XVI full retail was about 4K. I expect the new one to be closer to 4.5K before any discount. The Big Pilot was around 14K full retail, the Perpetual closer to 30K (in gold).
$500 bucks to send a watch in makes the hair stand out on my neck. I admire IWC watches like most others here do, but for me, the upfront cost of the watch, plus servicing is a bit extreme, beautiful as some of them indeed are:) I realize I can only speak for myself.
I like your comments re. the Speedy-that’s an iconic piece no doubt. Wear it in good health. I wish I could afford one right now. Consistent with your theme, I have an Omega Seamaster automatic 2531.80, I bargained on the watch overseas from a dealer, when the U.S. dollar was stronger than the Australian dollar & did alright. Interestingly though, most days I wear a Seiko that is a copy of a Cartier tank w/a Hirsch strap on it, I know some people will roll their eyes, but I just like the thing & it works. the gold filling has worn around the lugs, revealing the metal underneath & to me it kinda has a patina, or healthy signs of use that I enjoy looking at.
I will say the Japanese make some pretty respectable timepieces, that may not exactly be in the pantheon of supreme fetishization, et al. but I admire nonetheless.
Just had a thought, it would be cool to wear your Speedy with a dark velcro strap, then you’ll be seriously set for blast off!
When will a watch company come with an original campaign? Enough with all these “pilots”, “captains”, “mountain climbers”, etc.
Or maybe they’re right. I guess the trick works and men do spend thousands of dollars on pieces worth fraction of the price, thinking stupid thoughts. A bit sad, but good business for the brands, I guess…
Personally, I climbed a few mountains, scuba dived, and traveled the world for many years with the same brandless, simple but good watch.
Save that watch $$$ and learn to fly instead, dudes :)
@Duncan: $500 for service on the movement is reasonable as compared to other companies. Rolex is over $600, but service is always more as something may need to be balanced or fixed. IWC is an excellent value if you’re looking for a complicated Swiss timepiece – that perpetual would easily be 20-30k more if it were on a Patek or AP. I still have my grandfather’s IWC from the early 50s, and it runs well.
@Michael Williams: The Portuguese Auto will likely be my next watch, but I am now torn between that and the new worldtimer. My guess is the price difference between the two would also allow me to get the Zenith Pilot Chrono, too!
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