On The Flight Deck With The New IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN ‘SFTI’ Edition
A new TOP GUN inspired by a watch previously only available to graduates of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School.
For most, the words TOP GUN conjure thoughts of Tom Cruise's character Maverick flying high above the Indian Ocean aboard an F-14A Tomcat while dogfighting communists. The 1986 film has done more for military recruitment in the last three-plus decades than all other military movies combined. TOP GUN, along with another eighties classic, The Right Stuff, inspired this writer to study for his pilot’s license as a teenager.
"Going to the Navy Fighter Weapons School is every young fighter pilot’s dream. When you are a junior pilot in your squadron, you want to be the guy that is chosen to go to TOPGUN. Graduating from this prestigious program will not only give you a tremendous tactical and technical skillset as a fighter pilot, but it will also establish your reputation as a Top Tier Aviator, which will benefit your career." Says retired US Navy Captain and IWC friend of the brand, Jim DiMatteo, in a press release.
The Legend Of The IWC TOP GUN
As an official licensee of the US Navy since 2007, IWC Schaffhausen has produced a remarkable 12 TOP GUN references in the past 13 years. Pilots are a superstitious bunch, which is maybe why the brand has chosen to skip a wholly new introduction for their 13th TOP GUN reference. Instead, to celebrate their 13th year of partnership, the brand releases a civilian version of the mythical and previously unobtainable “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor“ watch.
While the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN ‘SFTI’ Edition takes inspiration from the watch given to graduates of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School (i.e., TOP GUN), this piece features a few notable cosmetic changes. Primarily, IWC removed the Navy Fighter Weapons School patch at nine o'clock and added a Day indicator at three o'clock. Additionally, the hour/minute totalizers at 12 o'clock were replaced with a minute counter.
This matte black finished timepiece is sized at 44mm and encased in black zirconium oxide ceramic. The nearly scratch-proof case is the perfect accompaniment for a fighter pilot operating in a high-stress environment like the cockpit of an F/A-18 Super Hornet. Furthermore, the caseback and chronograph pushers are crafted from Ceratanium, which is a proprietary IWC material. You can read more about IWC’s mastery of materials via our in-depth visit to the brand’s new Manufakturzentrum.
The TOP GUN ‘SFTI’ Edition is powered by the IWC 69380 manufacture calibre, which is extremely robust and resistant to shocks and magnetic fields. This column-wheel chronograph movement is produced specifically for optimum timekeeping, even in the most extreme circumstances.
As DiMatteo explained, “On a fighter jet mission, I am not sure there is anything more critical than time. Everything is connected to timing. When we begin a brief, the first thing we do is synchronize our watches. Every task from take-off to rendezvousing, to time on target (TOT), is coordinated with down-to-the-second accuracy.”
IWC has gone with a stealthy black colorway with contrasting and luminescent hands and indicators for optimum readability at any altitude. To complete this instrument panel look, IWC has added a touch of color to the small seconds hand, chronograph pushers, and completes the jet fighter look with a small red jet plane at the end of the chronograph seconds hand.
The Ceratanium caseback is emblazoned with the now-iconic Top Gun logo and a 'UNITED STATES NAVY' and 'FIGHTER WEAPONS SCHOOL' inscription. Honestly, it was the caseback that sold me on the TOP GUN collection to begin with. The watches make me feel like I could fit right in place at the nearest officer’s club or Navy dive bar. Completing the military-style look on the TOP GUN ‘SFTI’ Edition is an olive drab colored textile strap.
Pricing and Availability
The best part about the TOP GUN ‘SFTI’ Edition is that you don't have to spend years in flight school, boot camp, the Naval academy, and after all of that, get selected by your superiors to TOP GUN school at the Naval Air Station Leemore in Leemore, California. This piece is available to citizen collectors from all walks of life, regardless of your military affiliation.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)