An Air-istocrat: IWC Big Pilot Limited Edition Perpetual Calendar Watch

There are few better timepieces that combine luxury sport and ‘complication watches’ together than this limited edition IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar watch. The piece is literally an intersection of IWC’s highly popular Big Pilot watch and their Perpetual Calendar collection of timepieces. Those who desire the looks of the Big Pilot, with the complication of the Perpetual Calendar, have had their prayers answered right here.

The Big Pilot watch is all about heritage, legibility, and the romance of flight. IWC’s beloved 46.2-mm wide watch has its share of faces, and is universally adored for its shape, utterly easy to read dial, and crisp detailing. For many, it is the perfect everyday luxury sport watch. On the other hand, IWC’s in-house made and developed Calibre 51613 is a connoisseurs’ delight — being a fantastically conceived automatic mechanical movement with a long power reserve and a fully featured perpetual calendar. While it has many hands on the information rich dial, you’ll come to appreciate the refinement of the layout. The Calibre 51613 movement features the time, a moon phase indicator (showing the moon phase in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres), the date, month, day of the week, and even the year. The four digit year indicator goes to 2199 before the watch needs to be sent back to IWC for new discs to be installed. On some models, IWC even includes discs that go up to the year 2400 (just in case IWC can’t locate spare parts hundreds of years from now). It makes you wonder who will own the watch that long from now. IWC is certainly confident that with proper maintenance, the piece will last that long. In addition to the complexity, IWC uses their special Pellaton automatic winding system, and the movement has a power reserve of seven days when fully wound. You’ll find all this information nicely integrated into the orange-, black- and white-toned dial.

How does the layout of the Perpetual Calendar movement fit with the sporty looks of the Big Pilot? Quite well actually. The movement is often reserved for IWC’s more traditional, formal timepieces. Though here it has been nicely adapted to fit the personality of the Big Pilot. Note the arrow style hands for the calendar indicators, and miniature versions of the hour and minute hands for the subsidiary seconds and power reserve indicator dials. Through the AR (anti-reflective) coated sapphire crystal, the detailed dial is very easy to see.

The case is in steel, with a polished bezel, and a mostly brushed exterior. IWC fans love the large “turnip” style crown, which is a carry-over from when pilots wearing gloves needed an easy to grasp crown when winding watches in-flight. The watch comes matched with a black alligator strap with orange contrast stitching and pilot style rivets on the strap near the lugs. The piece is very visually satisfying and should appeal quickly to IWC fans, and others looking for complex luxury sport watches. IWC won’t make many of these Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar watches. The collection is limited to just 250 pieces, to be available exclusively through IWC brand boutiques world-wide. Price is $28,000.


1.     Classic Big Pilot watch case in steel.

2.     Double moon phase indicator.

3.     Four digit year indicator.

4.     Subdial with date and power reserve indicator.

5.     Subdial with subsidiary seconds and day of the week indicator.

6.     Month indicator dial.

Ariel Adams is the Haute Living Watch Editor and also publishes the luxury watch review site

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