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The quiet launch of the IWC Big Pilot White Ceramic ‘Lake Tahoe’ Perpetual Calendar

Subtly revealed at the Miami Grand Prix, when photos surfaced of Lewis Hamilton wearing the watch, this new timepiece will give collectors a buzz

For my second weekly watch column for Gentleman’s Journal, I’m excited to share a new timepiece from IWC, a maker close to my heart. The company, founded by an American, FA Jones, on the Swiss-German border town of Shaffhausen, is famed for producing rock-solid tool watches; developing a perpetual calendar you can adjust through a single crown; and being a pioneer of ceramic. The watch I’ve zoned in on this week encompasses all three of these features.

With the rise of social media in the last decade, brands have been testing news ways of building hype, and few have done it better than IWC. The play? Drop the watch on Instagram and let the community spot it. Okay, it’s easier when Sir Lewis Hamilton wears the watch in question – but it’s become somewhat of a trademark of the label. It was first deployed back in June, 2017, when IWC CEO Chris Grainger-Herr Instagrammed himself wearing a one-off 5002 in matte titanium (one of the posts was while on safari in South Africa). The hundred or so units that were ultimately produced were a smash hit.

Face view of the IWC Big Pilot White Ceramic Lake Tahoe Perpetual Calendar
Side view of the IWC Big Pilot White Ceramic Lake Tahoe Perpetual Calendar

So, back to the watch in question this week. A punchy White Ceramic Perpetual Calendar in the Big Pilot format, something unseen before.

Last year we witnessed the introduction of the Reference IW389105 IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition ‘Lake Tahoe’, a creation that blew people’s minds with its white ceramic case. Then came the Miami Grand Prix, in May, during which news broke of a mysterious new IWC Big Pilot after photos surfaced of Lewis Hamilton wearing the watch prior to the race. It wasn’t hard to figure out what the piece was – something about the 46mm+ case size, stark-white palette and recognisable perpetual calendar dial layout made it easily spottable. But there was one issue: the watch didn’t exist at the time, at least not officially. Hype ignited.

Back view of the IWC Big Pilot White Ceramic Lake Tahoe Perpetual Calendar
Back view of the IWC Big Pilot White Ceramic Lake Tahoe Perpetual Calendar

Inside, the in-house Kurt Klauss-designed IWC 52615 caliber movement offers just about every measurable timing option on the dial, including a special double moon phase complication that allows the user to read the phases of the moon in both northern and southern hemispheres – a complication that will only deviate by one day after 577.5 years.

While I deeply admire this feature, its historical importance and the challenge of developing ceramics, I also recognise that 46mm will be too large for many, and the sheer punch of design on the wrist may be too much as well. But, in many ways, that’s the charm. In my book, a Big Pilot should be exactly that: big. It originally launched in 2002, in 46mm – and it’s a special thing. While we can’t all be F1 drivers, we can still get that buzz with this new piece of wrist armour.

Want more watches? The ANOMALY Evolution Edition 2 adds a burst of summer-ready colour to the wrist…

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