IWC Releases Two New Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Editions at Watches & Wonders 2022

Few brands are associated with aviation the way IWC Schaffhausen is, and now, the watchmaker raises the bar with two stylish new pilot’s chronographs.

By Kristen Shirley
Contributor

You might have to wait a couple more months for the opening of Top Gun: Maverick, but you can have a new watch inspired by the film on your wrist now.

That is because IWC unveiled two new colors in its flagship Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN collection – dubbed the “Lake Tahoe” (white) and “Woodland” (green) – at Watches & Wonders 2022.

Fresh New Uniforms

These colors weren’t chosen and named just for their striking good looks – they have subtle military associations. “The color codes of US Navy uniforms and the landscapes used as training grounds by naval aviators have inspired our new chronographs,” said Christian Knoop, Creative Director of IWC. “In an unprecedented engineering process, we have developed two completely new ceramic colors – “Lake Tahoe” white and “Woodland” green – and matched meticulously all other components of the watches to these new shades.”
 

The pure white Lake Tahoe color was inspired by the snow-covered mountains surrounding the lake. These mountains are a training ground for fighter pilots at the nearby Naval Air Station Fallon, home to the iconic TOP GUN school (forget the San Diego beaches you saw in the 1986 movie).

The white hue also pays homage to the crisp “dress white” naval uniforms worn by the pilots. The white ceramic case of the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe” is also nicely complemented by a white rubber strap with an embossed motif. Moreover, the dial is a rich black color with white hands, chronograph counters, hour markers, and indices, making it very easy to read despite the numerous counters.
 

If you prefer a more colorful look, the green case of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Woodland” may be for you.

This model features a rich green hue developed in homage to classic military colors and is also an obvious reference to the color of naval aviators’ flight suits. The name is a nod to the trees and lush landscapes they zip past in their fighter jets. The dial is also green, but the numerals and hour markers are a lighter shade for legibility. The watch is completed with a textured green rubber strap.
 

Technically Tough

While the new colors are gorgeous, the watches are also technically impressive because they are ceramic, and IWC developed these hues specifically for the TOP GUN collection.

Manufacturing ceramic for watch cases is a difficult task. They require different methods and designs than metal cases for several reasons. One stand-out obstacle is the challenge of achieving the correct color, but it is one that IWC has conquered since it first began working with ceramic in the 1980s. And in more recent years, the brand has unveiled ceramic watches like the coveted Mojave Desert Big Pilot TOP GUN edition, which is a sleek sand-colored hue.
 

These rich colors are made by combining zirconium oxide with metallic oxides. These unique combinations also mean that the temperatures for manufacturing the ceramic are different for each hue.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself: “If it’s this difficult to create a colored ceramic watch case, why do brands bother?” The answer is performance. The ceramic used in watchmaking is ultra-durable and scratch-resistant but lighter than steel.
 

Made for Pilots…

The new 44.5mm “Woodland” and “Lake Tahoe” TOP GUN editions are the perfect pilot’s watches and for good reason.

They have legible dials, sleek aviation-inspired designs, and a chronograph complication that counts hours, minutes, and seconds. Plus, the sapphire crystal on the fronts of the “Woodland” and “Lake Tahoe” is secured in a unique way that allows these watches to withstand sudden drops in air pressure. It might not be a feature you’d use in everyday life, but it is certainly something that US Navy pilots experience while training and on missions.
 

Powered by the in-house 69380 calibre, an automatic movement with 46 hours of power reserve, the layout is unusual for a chronograph, but the final composition is harmonious. The hour, minute, and seconds counters are at 12, 9, and 6 o’clock, and the day and date indicators are displayed at 3 o’clock. And lastly, the caseback is decorated with the TOP GUN training school logo.
 

…But Not Just for Pilots

Even if you won’t be hopping in a fighter jet anytime soon, you’ll definitely want one of these on your wrist for your next commercial flight. The pilot will appreciate the aviation respect – they might even be wearing an IWC pilot’s watch themself.

Finally, in a press release for the new models, IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr noted that the “Woodland” and “Lake Tahoe” TOP GUN editions maintain the technical components that pilots and watch enthusiasts alike love and demand. But he was also careful to explain that the collection is expanding to include people who consider watches as more of an extension of their fashion sensibility.
 

“These new chronographs not only underscore IWC’s longstanding and extensive experience in the fields of in-house chronographs and advanced materials,” the CEO said. “The white and green ceramic used for the cases also illustrates the current evolution of TOP GUN from a collection primarily focused on performance to a bold style statement and an expression of a distinct way of life.”
 

Pricing & Availability

IWC will produce 1,000 pieces annually in each beautiful color, though pricing was not available at publication.

Please visit IWC’s website for more information.
 

(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)

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