The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch is an ever-evolving timepiece. Since it first ticked to life and took to the air in 2002, Swiss Maison IWC Schaffhausen has honed, refined and redesigned its largest, most high-flying model, adding different dial colours and fitting movements varying from perpetual calendars to chronographs into its broad, bold case.
Last year, the watchmaker finally unveiled a slightly smaller, marginally more wearable model; the Big Pilot’s Watch 43mm. A fairly faithful interpretation of the original, this new, more compact design forms the basis of IWC’s latest collaboration with award-winning retail destination MR PORTER.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 ‘MR PORTER EDITION 1’ is an uncompromisingly capitalised watch; limited to 500 pieces globally and featuring this recently downsized case in a handsome bronze colour. With a titanium case back, and topped with a black dial and gold-plated hands, each model will be individually numbered and engraved with the retail destination’s logo.
The bronze used — one of the first alloys to be produced by man, and a metal that has maintained a solid sense of prestige throughout history — is as rugged as it is rich; durable, strong and destined to develop a burnished, golden-brown patina over time. Strengthened by IWC with aluminium and iron (making it twice as firm as standard bronze), its outer layer oxidises with every wear, giving each of the 500 watches an utterly unique lustre.
The dial, too, shares these practical-but-beautiful touches. Functional, and designed in the style of an easy-to-read cockpit-instrument, both the Big Pilot’s face (and its oversized conical crown) were initially inspired by a military observation watch from the 1940s. And, while IWC has created the aforementioned chronographs, calendars and other spins on the style, this MR PORTER collaboration features a pared-down, pure dial layout.
It’s a slick look; cast in a black that matches the watch’s Alcantara strap. The hands, which fall somewhere between the ‘Sword’ and ‘Dauphine’ styles, tick trimly around pale gold indices and hour markers — with the ‘1’ numeral alone illuminated with a dab of well-placed Super-LumiNova.
And that’s not the only smart, ergonomic touch tricking out this collaborative timepiece. There’s also sapphire glass secured against displacement by drops in air pressure, a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields and IWC’s ‘EasX-CHANGE’ strap system to ensure quick swaps.
The mechanical movement, too, is full of surprises. The ‘MR PORTER EDITION 1’ is powered by the IWC-manufactured ‘82100’ calibre, a robust and reliable automatic movement that features a highly efficient self-winding system developed over half a century ago in the 1950s, by then-technical director, Albert Pellaton.
It’s an ingenious mechanism, and one that uses the rotor’s smallest movements — in either direction — to build up a power reserve of 60 hours in the mainspring. And, to ensure resilience, the automatic wheel and other components are crafted from virtually wear-free zirconium oxide ceramic.
Available now on MR PORTER, exclusively until February, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 ‘MR PORTER EDITION 1’ will also be sold in certain IWC Schaffhausen boutiques from spring next year, and comes packaged in a protective black case.
“We are thrilled to continue our limited-edition collaborations with IWC Schaffhausen,” says Maxim De Turckheim, the Senior Luxury Watch Buyer at MR PORTER. “This year we introduce the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 ‘MR PORTER EDITION 1’, a unique take on an iconic collection. The subtle numeral ‘1’ illuminated with Super-LumiNova, MR PORTER engraved case-back blended with bronze case and black leather strap, creates a fresh and modern timepiece.
“Our desire is to continue to bring our customers special timepieces they can easily wear and collect, and share their unique elements with others”.
MR PORTER x IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 ‘MR PORTER EDITION 1’
Want more from MR PORTER? Take a look at the retail destination’s celebrated ‘Keeping Time’ campaign…
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