SIHH 2019: IWC Flying High With An Impressive Lineup Of New Pilot's
It's fair to say that IWC has one of the most balanced collection portfolios of the big Richemont brands. With the Portuguese, the Da Vinci, the Portofino and the Big Pilot, it's a well-rounded brand. This year the manufacture from Schaffhausen has focused on and highlighted the Big Pilot.
After a successful pre-SIHH teaser at the Goodwood Air Base in the UK last December that unveiled some of their novelties (complete info here), IWC has released their full range of new pieces at SIHH 2019. And it is a whole squadron: sharp, efficient and focused.
The whole new Spitfire line
The collection is inspired by the minimalistic design of the Mark 11, complementing the Spitfire theme. The Mark 11 is a legendary plane that revolutionized aviation with its unique functional and beautiful curves. To celebrate the engineering prowess of the Spitfire, IWC powers this collection with in-house calibers, and the iconic shape of the plane is engraved on the case back. No less than seven new models were made, from the Automatic 3 hands in steel to the Perpetual Calendar in Bronze.
The three hands Automatic Spitfire (ref. IW326801) offers a great entry level price for IWC at CHF 4,800 (Vat included). It's wisely sized in a 39mm case, making it a truly unisex watch. Its rounded edges soften the sporty profile, but it stands out visually thanks to the black dial and Arabic numerals. It keeps its military instrument feel, while the smaller case is more wearable on wrists of all sizes.
The Spitfire Edition “MJ271” has the Coordinated Universal Time function that was a necessity in aviation history. It displays the local time with the hour and minutes hands, and the home time through a large curved UTC window at 12 o’clock. A simple turn of the crown backward or forward in its central position sets the local hour, and the date, positioned at 3 o’clock, changes automatically if the international Date Line is crossed. It's simple and efficient like a true aviation instrument should be.
The watch's military green dial provides a sportiness that is beautifully enhanced by the 41mm bronze case – a sexy and recurrent material in the new Spitfire collection. The 82710 in-house automatic movement delivers a solid 60-hour power reserve. Limited at 271 pieces, this very balanced and watch iteration will surely be a hot item. Its price is CHF 9,900 (Vat incl.)
The heat is on with the new TOP GUN
With the new TOP GUN, the collection gets resolutely sporty. First introduced in 2007 in a collaboration with the famous training program of the US Navy Forces, it's made of only the strongest materials. Titanium and ceramic stand up to the extreme conditions they need to endure. The two new TOP GUN models, Double Chronograph Ceratanium and Chronograph Edition Schaffhausen "Mojave Desert" respectively, boast an all-black CerataniumTM (a new alloy that's stronger than ceramic and lighter than titanium), and a full sand-colored ceramic case. The "Mojave Desert" is limited to 500 pieces, and priced at CHF 8,900 (Vat incl.).
The sand colored hands and textile strap frame the dark brown dial, giving the watch an all-around stealth desert look. I's powered by the 69380 in-house classic column-wheel chronograph caliber and also displays day and date in two windows at 3 o’clock. It's fierce - like the special forces!
The ultimate Big Pilot
After the Constant Force Tourbillon was unveiled before SIHH, IWC tops this year’s 2019 novelties with another big bang in the sky: the Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph Edition “Le Petit Prince”, ref. IW392202. It is the first time IWC has combined these two useful and sought-after complications in their pilot watches, and it works wonderfully. It is quite a feat to make such a sporty watch feel so dressy with these high-end features. Honestly it is more of a private jet pilot’s watch than a jet-fighter's one, but it is spot on.
The in-house mechanical movement 89630 elegantly displays all of the required indications: hours, minutes, the day at 9 o’clock, date at 3 o’clock, month at 6 o’clock, year (including leap years) in a four digit window at 7:30, and perpetual moon phase included in the chronograph counter at 12 o’clock. It also has a flyback chronograph. This makes for a lot of information to display but the large face of the model provides optimized legibility. The 43mm case in 18K rose gold case enhances the delightful blue of the dial and its various sunray and brushed finishings. Limited at 250 pieces, this ultimate timekeeper is sure to create some turbulence among haute horlogerie lovers. The price for this exceptional timekeeper is extremely well positioned (for this level of complication) at CHF 41,000 (Vat included).
IWC had already shown Pre-SIHH that this year’s releases of the Big Pilot’s Watches novelties were thoroughly thought through. The SIHH 2019 introductions complete and confirm the offering. The new collections are coherent, relevant, and perfectly reflect the brand’s DNA and purpose. It's a great IWC vintage in my humble opinion.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell & Pierre Vogel)