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Flying high

IWC takes off with timepieces inspired by the magic of flight

By Natalie Glorney


For over 80 years, IWC’s Pilot’s watches have been bringing the magic of flight to all those who wear them. Now, the Swiss watchmaker has announced a new Spitfire line in the Pilot’s collection, inspired by world-renowned aviators.

The Spitfire is one of the most sophisticated developments in the history of aviation. The iconic shape of the legendary British fighter aircraft is the result of a perfectly functional design. Likewise, the characteristic instrument design of IWC’s Pilot watches is the result of engineering to the specific requirements of military aviation. The collection perfectly combines form and function.

The Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium is the first pilot’s watch with a Ceratanium case. The material developed by IWC is as lightweight and robust as titanium but is also as hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic. The TOP GUN watches take their name from the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program in the U.S. Navy. This training programme provides the best Navy pilots with flying and tactical training, therefore these watches are specially designed with robust materials, to meet the specific requirements of elite jet pilots. The double chronograph has an integrated split-seconds hand mechanism for simultaneously measuring short periods of time. It is powered by the 79230 calibre with self-winding mechanism and boasts a power reserve of 44 hours. The watch, with its black dial and black hands, sits on a rubber strap and textile inlay.

Originally launched in 2012, the Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun united the clear-cut utility look of the 1940s with ultra-modern technology. Offering a more contemporary take on functionality with new materials and design elements, it featured a clear-cut dial with a striking black-and-white contrast, an impressive power reserve, and straightforward date displays. The most distinctive addition to the popular cockpit design was the small red aircraft motif on the seconds hand. It was packed with high-tech materials including the zirconium oxide ceramic case, which was hardwearing, scratch-resistant, and water-resistant to six bar. The crown was crafted in extremely rugged titanium, whilst the strap was soft and black to secure the 48 mm case comfortably to the wearer’s wrist.

Since 2005, IWC has been in collaboration with the family of French aviator and author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This partnership has already seen a variety of special editions launched within the Pilot’s watches collection. While some pay tribute to the life and accomplishments of the great humanist himself, others are dedicated to his most famous literary work The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince). These timepieces, characterised by their distinctive midnight blue dials, have been a highly regarded addition to the Pilot’s watch collections since 2013. Now, IWC has announced two exclusive new models.

The Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince is the first pilot’s watch from IWC with a constant-force tourbillon. For the first time, the Swiss watch manufacturer has used hard gold for the case – a significantly harder and more wear-resistant version of red gold. The microstructure of the alloy is modified in a sophisticated manufacturing process.

Limited to just 10 pieces, this timepiece features the patented constant-force tourbillon. As the tension in the spring of a mechanical wristwatch slackens over time, less force is transferred to the escapement via the dial train, which in turn decreases the amplitude of the balance. This has a negative impact on the precision of the watch. The patented constant-force mechanism separates the escapement from the direct flow of force from the dial train and with every second re-tensions a balance spring, which serves as a temporary store of energy and transfers absolutely even force pulses to the escape wheel. Integrated into a tourbillon, which also eliminates the influence of gravity on the oscillating system, the result is extraordinary precision. The IWC-manufactured calibre 94805 combines a constant-force tourbillon with a perpetual moon phase display, which takes 577.5 years to require adjustment by one day. The “Petit Prince” stands on the moon. Two barrels store enough power for 96 hours.

With their robustness, reliability and effortless style, each of the new timepieces in this collection embody the high level of engineering expertise that IWC is renowned for.

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