The IWC Big Pilot is a dream watch for many collectors out there. Its charm comes from a variety of places, but it is undeniable that this timepiece has a fantastic reputation in the horology world. Today, I’m going to break down why it is so popular by going through each crucial aspect that contributes to its allure. You can find those explanations below.
IWC is another one of those watch brands that has been around for well over 100 years. It was founded in 1868 by a watchmaker from the United States named Florentine Ariosto Jones. The location he chose was, naturally, Switzerland. The brand built a name for themselves and became primarily known for two things: Mastering the aviation watch and crafting timepieces out of titanium. Their prestige has not wavered, even to this day, as they continue to be one of the most popular manufacturers in the world.
History of the IWC Big Pilot
Like many tool watches, the Big Pilot began as a highly useful military instrument. IWC outfitted many World War II pilots with these pieces, and they developed a legendary reputation as a result. Military men loved them because of their robust size, easy to read dial, and practical features. As often happens, that reputation came back home with them, where they continued to wear the Big Pilot and show it to their peers. This model quickly became one of the quintessential IWC pieces, and each version they release continues its legacy.
The two words that come to mind when you look at this watch are simple and masculine. The former comes from the uncomplicated dial design that IWC chooses. The numbers are big, they aren’t in some convoluted font, and the color scheme isn’t there to catch anyone’s eye. As far as it being a masculine piece, part of that also comes from the simple, no-frills design we previously discussed. The other aspect is the fact that this watch is so large. Its case comes in at just over 46mm, which is bigger than most options on the market. Additionally, it has a very attractive and unique strap to round things out.
Let’s start with the unsurprising aspects. They are the calfskin leather strap and the sapphire glass crystal. Both of them are luxurious materials, but fairly standard at this price point. What makes this watch unique is its use of titanium. This incredibly light material makes the massive Big Pilot sit well on your wrist and gives the piece a small edge over typical, stainless steel products.
My favorite aspect of this watch is the movement. While its accuracy is quite high, what really makes it amazing is its power reserve. The Big Pilot gives you a jaw-dropping 168 hours of energy. That’s a full week! While most luxury options are in the 40-100-hour range, the Big Pilot blows just about every other watch out of the water. This is awesome for two reasons. The first is the practicality of it, as you won’t have to reset it unless you go a full week without wearing it. The second is simply knowing that your watch is such a fantastic machine that it can sit for that long and keep on ticking.
Movement aside, this is an incredibly sturdy and well-made piece. Though it is not built for the water, it is nice to know that you get 60m water resistance from it. That means no issues in the rain or when taking accidental dips into water. The Big Pilot also has a certain sturdiness to it that few other watches have. When you wear it, you can be sure that it is built to last a lifetime.
One thing that collectors often do when choosing a watch is look at their existing collections. They sometimes see that they’re missing a crucial kind of watch and use that information to select their next addition. If you do this and decide that you could use an aviation piece, or you’re just obsessed with this type of watch, then going with the Big Pilot is an excellent decision. While it is not as crowded and packed with information as other pieces in this category, those who like more minimalistic timepieces will absolutely love it.
My overall impression of the Big Pilot is overwhelmingly positive. It has a titanium case, a shockingly impressive movement, gorgeous aesthetics, and it delivers in every other possible way. It also just has a fantastic feel to it. The second you get your hands on this timepiece, you can tell that it is a class above almost every other option on the market. The Big Pilot is an absolute icon, an amazing feat of engineering, and a product that definitely deserves a spot in your luxury watch collection.