SIHH 2016 — IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 and 48

IWC Big Pilot's Heritage Watch 48 (Ref. IW510301)

IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 (Ref. IW510301)

IWC will present several pilot’s watch novelties at SIHH, and among the first ones, they already unveiled two huge wristwatches based on the historic Big Pilot’s Watch 52-calibre T.S.C. (Tirette Seconde Centrale), which with its 55 mm diameter was the largest wristwatch ever built at IWC Schaffhausen.

Originally, the 52-calibre TSC watches were made to be used by combat pilots during WWII, the huge sandblasted case, the matt black dial with a clear typeface for the numerals, the propeller-shaped hands, the large crown, all designed to serve a purpose in a life-and-death situation. It is this spirit that IWC is following with the limited edition Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 and 48.

The Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 (Ref. IW510401) has the exact same size and design as the 52-calibre TSC from 1940, but with several modern-day updates. First of all, the case is made from titanium, resulting in a 33 grams lighter case than the original one, made from stainless steel. Another important difference is the use of small seconds, instead of the central seconds hand of the 52-calibre TSC.

In the old days, pulling out the crown stopped the balance, allowing pilots and navigators to synchronize their watches with down-to-the-second accuracy. The IWC hand-wound 98300 calibre, powering the new Heritage 55, can be stopped the same way by pulling out the crown.

IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (Ref. IW510401)

IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (Ref. IW510401)

It is interesting to observe that on the Big Pilot’s Heritage 55, the number “9” is back on the dial, something that we did not see on the Big Pilot’s watches made after 2002.

12 o’clock is reserved for the typical flieger triangle index with two dots, which played an important role in helping pilots recognize the relative position of their hands and read the time even with a cursory glance in the dark.

The big chunky crown is a reminder of the time when pilots had to fly in unheated cockpits and they had to wear thick gloves. The crown had to be large enough to permit adjusting the time without taking off these gloves.

The hand-wound 98300 is protected by an antimagnetic soft-iron inner case and a shock absorption system, offering 46 hours of power reserve.

Historic Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C.)

Historic Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C.)

Even the brown calfskin strap is inspired directly by the original watch from 19040. This allowed the timepiece to be worn over a thick flying suit. The strap is divided in two and sewn together at the ends, which makes it impossible to drop the watch accidentally when putting it on your wrist. Then, as now, two rivets on the spring bar hold the strap together.

The Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 is limited to only 100 pieces and it will be available only at selected IWC boutiques. MSRP is $14,800 US.

IWC Big Pilot's Heritage Watch 48

IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 (Ref. IW510301)

Big Pilot’s Heritage 48 (Ref. IW510301), being the “smaller one”, is more of an everyday watch that you can comfortably pull off if you are gifted with a large wrist. Just like its big brother, the Heritage 48 too has a titanium case, which reduces its weight to 120 grams.

Powered by the IWC hand-wound 59215 calibre, which has a power reserve of 192 hours, after being fully wound, the Big Pilot’s Heritage 48 can run for 8 straight days. The little window on the back of the watch will show how much power is left. Despite the aperture, this Pilot’s watch too has a soft-iron inner case that guides magnetic fields around the movement.

Limited to 1,000 pieces and costing $13,400 US, the Big Pilot’s Heritage 48 (Ref. IW510301) is probably already on the wishlist of many flieger watch collectors.

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