IWC Schaffhausen has just unveiled two of the watches lined-up for SIHH 2016, and in the same breath, confirmed the rumors of the Pilot’s BIG return. Quite literally.
The new collection will include an early fan favorite in the Mark XVIII as well as the elegant Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36, but the watches picked for IWC’s announcement are the oversized Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (Ref. IW510401) and Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 (Ref. IW510301).
Both draw heavily from the brand’s original Big Pilot’s watch, the 52-calibre T.S.C, which became the largest wristwatch ever made by IWC when it was introduced in 1940. A record it held for 75 years…until yesterday, when a mere 3mm handed it to the new Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55.
The overall aesthetic of the historic observer’s watch, from the design of the dial and the color of the luminescent numerals to the shape of the propeller-like hands and the riveted calfskin straps, is clearly the inspiration for the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 and 48.
“For us, it was vital from the start that the Heritage watches were true to the original,” said the brand’s Creative Director, Christian Knoop.
Inevitably, IWC’s engineers have introduced some notable changes. Titanium has been preferred to stainless steel for the construction of the case and lugs. The central seconds hands – a feature so important to the 52-calibre T.S.C. that it makes up two thirds of its acronym (Secondes Centrale in French) – has also been revised in favor of a seconds subdial at 6 o’clock.
However, purists will be delighted to see the return of the figure “9,” omitted in subsequent models of the Big Pilot’s Watch after 2002, as well as the triangular index and dots at 12 o’clock.
They also return on the slightly smaller Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48. A practical alternative to the 55, it features a smaller case size, an 8-days IWC hand-wound 59215 caliber (versus the 2-day 98300 caliber of the 55), a date and a power reserve, putting it more in line with modern-day demands.
Of course, neither one of these timepieces is meant to win any popularity contests. But IWC is well aware of that. The Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 is limited to 100 watches, while the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 has a slightly larger production run of 1000 watches, priced at $14,800 and $13,400 respectively.
We’ll have to wait for the full line-up later this month to judge the entire IWC Pilot collection, but it wouldn’t be a complete without an oversized Heritage Watch. And the fact we got two should be considered a good omen…