SIHH 2019 - IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire Bronze
A spectacular booth
The IWC's booth in Geneva was without a doubt one of the most appealing. The Brand and Communication team at IWC managed to create a space capable of conveying a feeling of greatness never seen before. Merit goes to the bright hangar-like design and to the magnificent Silver Spitfire aircraft placed just in the middle of an area that included a large bar, surrounded by furnishings and goodies that drew inspiration from vintage and modern military aviation.
The most clever move was, from a strategic point of view, to highlight the two different souls of the Pilot's Watch collection, the vintage, and the modern military ones, even better, thus reaffirming IWC's dominant position in aviation-inspired watchmaking with the Spitfire and the Top Gun collections respectively.
Two collections: Top Gun and Spitfire
Chris Grainger-Herr, CEO of the brand, has, in fact, signed a partnership with the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor school and provided their pilots with a Pilot's Watch Chrono Top Gun sporting the school's logo on the dial (what a pity that watch is not for sale). Meanwhile, he also decided to sponsor a project that will see two professional pilots, Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones, circumnavigate the globe aboard a fully restored Silver Spitfire.
Despite the most significant novelty of the 2019 Pilot's Watch collection has been the introduction of Caliber 32, which makes the Pilot's Watch Automatic Spitfire (and its sibling, the Top Gun) a 100% manufacture timepiece, I reckon the most captivating model of the new line-up is the IWC Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire Bronze.
IWC has, over the years, launched many special editions of the Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar, some of them being a bit controversial, many of them being instead quite attractive and highly sought-after too. For the first time ever, a Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar comes in Bronze (production is limited to 250 pieces), a choice that puts the collection of Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar timepieces in a whole new perspective.
I think It would be interesting to discover how this case will age over time and what kind of alloy has IWC used, but no technical details have been released so far. We don't know therefore whether engineers desired to come up with a visible oxidation process, as this is the case with the Panerai Luminor Submersible 1950 3 Days Bronzo for example or, else, go for an alloy that guarantees a uniform yet light patina, as on a Tudor Heritage Black Bay Bronze's case for instance.
I believe IWC opted for a solution that is close to the second one. I like the choice to associate a olive green dial to a bronze case, it works pretty well in my opinion, although I have to admit IWC is not the only brand to have launched such a combination. However, no other watchmaker can actually pair that case and dial with the unmistakable four registers and four-digit year design style, guaranteed by in-house caliber 52615.
It is not the thinnest perpetual calendar out there, but it is perfect as a sports watch, with the DNA of a Big Pilot's Watch. Moreover, from one generation to the other, the case size has been reduced even further: the 2012 Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun measures 48mm in diameter, the latest version crafted in ceramic, the Edition "Rodeo Drive," is 46.5mm wide whereas the Bronze stops at 46.2mm.
This is one of the reasons why I think IWC replaced the solid case-back with a see-through sapphire crystal that guarantees a thickness of 15.6mm (the Edition "Rodeo Drive" stops at 15.9mm). This design choice helps the watch look and feel proportioned despite being impressive once wrapped around the wrist.
Finally, just like we were used to when the Spitfire first appeared, in the 90s, a narrow leather strap with pin buckle has replaced the folding clasp. The price? A Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire Bronze costs € 31,900, hence € 1,400 less than the Edition "Rodeo Drive," but it is not that 4% price list difference to drive the choice, I think. I would personally still go for the black-on-black Ceramic 48mm Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar, yet the 2019 Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Bronze is an exciting vintage looking option. What if, instead, IWC would next release a Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar in Ceratanium?
(Photo credit: Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Peter Tung)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®