Today, IWC Schaffhausen releases its Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI”. The watch – an extension to the company’s Pilot’s Chronograph TOP GUN model – is also the civilian version of a timepiece created in honour of the US Naval Aviation Community back in 2018. The “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” watch, which was exclusive to the wrists of TOPGUN graduates, was produced as a collaborative effort between the Swiss watch manufacturer and Naval Air Station Lemoore-based instructors in California. It equipped graduates of the Navy Fighter Weapons School with a reliable tool for soaring through the skies in supersonic jets whilst subject to extreme G-forces. Limited to 1,500 pieces worldwide, the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” faithfully follows many design codes of the TOP GUN series. The robust instrument is geared towards flying officers responsible for handling tortuous manoeuvres whilst seated at the cockpit of aircraft like the F/A-18 Super Hornet and such like.
A quick overview of IWC’s Pilot’s watch legacy
The TOP GUN Pilot’s watch collection from IWC Schaffhausen is perhaps one that many rival watch companies envy. In just a few years of existence, it is recognised for its set of cool style credentials, reliable calibres and robust case materials. IWC has been making pilot’s watches since the Second World War for civil aviation use and even became the first Swiss watch manufacturer to produce watches for the German Army, followed by the British Army a little later.
We covered the features of the IWC Mark XVII series at MONOCHROME back in 2012 and 2014 – models that superseded the Mark 11 Navigational tool utilized by RAF personnel up until 1981. We’ve also covered the most recent Mark XVIII models with a reduced-to-the-essentials design inspired by the 1930s Junkers Ju-52 cockpit instruments.
Compared to these Classic Pilot’s watches, the IWC TOP GUN models could be considered the slightly younger-looking siblings, yet they bring more than just a contemporary, masculine look to the table. TOP GUN watches are crafted from advanced ceramic technology, which attests to their slightly higher price range.
The IWC TOP GUN Edition “SFTI”
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” is a 44mm case of black zirconium oxide ceramic. Ceramic has been widely used throughout the watchmaking industry over the last decade, mainly for its remarkable scratch-resistant properties, but the natural black layer formed after subjecting zirconium to high temperatures is also anti-reflective. In addition to this, the pushers that operate the chronograph functions and the caseback of the watch are developed from IWC’s proprietary Ceratanium® material. It promises the light and durable properties of titanium but also the hard, scratch-resistant qualities of ceramic. Other features that enable the watch to resist water damage and withstand extreme temperature conditions include a screw-down crown and a glass front secured against displacement by drops in air pressure.
Underneath a convex, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass with layers of anti-reflective coating applied to both sides, is a black dial with matching black hands to achieve the watch’s tactical look. The jet counterbalance design on the base of the TOP GUN’s central seconds hand is finished in red. In former models like the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN and Pilot’s Watch Automatic TOP GUN, flashes of red have been used to underscore the “TOP GUN” lettering and the 60-seconds sub-counter hand. For the “SFTI” edition, IWC has balanced the chronograph dials at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock with a day and date feature at the third hour. Luminous central hands and Arabic numerals around the periphery of the dial have been treated with luminescence to assist with timekeeping during night flights or in low-light conditions.
Inside the rugged matte black case of this TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” is an engine from the 69000 calibre series, a manufacture movement. The self-winding calibre 69380 has a classic column-wheel design, providing aggregate timing in the 12-hour totaliser and the 30-minute counter (at 9 and 12 o’clock respectively). The movements used in the Pilot’s Watch collection by IWC Schaffhausen are all equipped with anti-magnetic technology in the form of a soft-iron inner case. The movement provides up to 46 hours of power reserve and performs at a rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour.
Strap, availability and Price
True to the core principles of IWC’s varied and ever-growing Pilot’s watch collection, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” will appeal to professional pilots and military personnel alike.
This reference IW389104, limited to 1,500 pieces, comes complete on a green textile strap and will be priced at CHF 9,900. More details at iwc.com.