If there’s a watch in this crowded industry that best represents aviation and jet fighters, it is probably the IWC Big Pilot – so to say, a pure icon. Alongside the classical edition with a stainless steel case and a black dial, IWC also plays a lot with this timepiece to create limited editions but still keeping true to the classic icon, like for instance the ‘Le Petit Prince’ in rose gold, its sibling in stainless steel or these colorful Boutique Editions. For their latest partnership, IWC pays tribute to the high-flying excellence of the Patrouille Suisse. Thus what other watch could have been better than the Big Pilot in order to create a limited edition? None. Here is the 250-piece IWC Big Pilot Patrouille Suisse.
This new “Patrouille Suisse” Limited Edition is based on the famous, yet iconic (to say the least) IWC Big Pilot’s Watch. As a reminder, what we’re talking about is a large pilot watch inspired by the 1940s German B-Uhr / Flieger watches / Beobachtungs-uhren. These extremely large “Observation Watches” were delivered to Luftwaffe (German Air Force) pilots and navigators. If you want to know more, we highly encourage you to have a look at our in-depth article “The History of the Pilot Watch Part Five: B-Uhr“. Using some of the design clues of these antique watches, IWC launched a 46mm watch with a similar dial design – large luminous numerals and highly legible hands – and a 7-day power reserve automatic movement. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch may be inspired by the most famous (and copied) German watches, it remains highly recognizable and timeless.
This new “Patrouille Suisse” Limited Edition differentiates from the classical edition first by its design. As you can see, the dial is slate-coloured with a sun-pattern finish. The numerals are still painted on the dial (and not applied like in the “Petit Prince” edition) and the hands are black – but still largely filled with luminous painting. The case remains in stainless steel and with the classical sand-blasted finish and the crown keeps its sharp and large diamond shape. The last of the visual differences is the strap, an anthracite-coloured wrist-band of embossed calfskin with a folding clasp.
There’s also one technical difference between the classical Big Pilot’s Watch and this IWC Big Pilot “Patrouille Suisse” Limited Edition. While all the other editions – limited or not – come with the Calibre 51111, this grey-coloured “Patrouille Suisse” comes with the Calibre 51011, meaning that it gets rid of the central mounted second hand and replaces it with a small second sub-dial located at 9 – just like an IWC Portugeiser Automatic 7-day. The power reserve indicator is however still in its customary place at 3 o’clock. This very large movement is protected from magnetic fields by a soft iron cage (like all pilot watches should be).
The solid case back features an engraving of three jet planes resembling the Northrop F-5E Tiger II – the planes the Patrouille Suisse pilots use to perform their aerial displays. The inscription “TRIBUTE TO PATROUILLE SUISSE” and the consecutive numbering on the case back (001/250, 002/250 etc.) are also appearing on the caseback. The Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Patrouille Suisse” will be available from September 2015 at IWC boutiques in Switzerland and from Swiss retailers, then later at IWC boutiques worldwide. Price: 15.600 USD. More details on IWC.com.
- Features: Mechanical movement – Pellaton automatic winding – Power reserve display – Date display – Small hacking seconds at 9 o’clock – Glucydur®* beryllium alloy balance with precision adjustment cams on the balance arms – Breguet balance spring – Soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields – Screw-in crown – Secured against displacement by drops in air pressure
- Movement: Calibre 51111, 21.600 bph frequency, 42 jewels, 7-day (168 hours) power reserve, automatic winding
- Materials: stainless-steel case (blasted), slate-coloured dial with sun-pattern finish, anthracite-coloured embossed calfskin strap, stainless-steel (blasted) folding clasp
- Dimensions: 46mm Diameter – 16mm height
- Water Resistance: 60m / 6 bar