IWC is celebrating its birthday, and boy does it know how to throw a party! The Schaffhausen-based manufacture is not just releasing one simple anniversary piece for its grand 150th birthday bash, but is launching an array of models from various collections, all sharing one common theme: lacquered dials. We’ve shown you the superb IWC Tribute to Pallweber Edition 150 Years and the new IWC Portugieser Constant Force Tourbillon Edition 150 Years – to name a few. It is now time to take a closer look at the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition 150 Years.
A pilot’s watch is a utilitarian piece of equipment designed to exalt its primary function of legibility. Adding complications can be tricky because they could clutter the dial, but that doesn’t mean it cannot be done. IWC has already displayed its capabilities with its Big Pilot Big Date Edition 150 Years, a first-ever Big Pilot’s Watch with a big date complication for the brand.
A pilot’s watch is a very utilitarian piece to begin with… Adding complications can be tricky!
Following the same idea, IWC’s next step was the annual calendar. It is not the first time that IWC has offered this complication, as we already know from the 2015 IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar Ref. 5053. Furthermore, IWC has integrated the same movement in various limited editions of the Big Pilot’s Watch collection, such as “Le Petit Prince”, “Spitfire” or “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” limited editions.
The common theme running through the 27 jubilee watches is lacquered dials, either in white or in blue. These dials have been created to look like enamel. A total of 12 layers of high-quality lacquer are applied on the dial, which is then polished to an ultra-smooth, glossy finish. The final result is a dial that plays with the light, reflects the hands under the right angle for instance, but remains super legible in keeping with the spirit of a pilot’s watch. The blue lacquered dial of this IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition 150 Years (no white version available) is finished with white printed markings and numerals, in IWC’s familiar font, and a set of rhodium-plated hands.
To further distance itself from the regular collection, IWC has changed the finishing of the trademark Big Pilot case ever so slightly. The steel case, 46.2mm in diameter as always, normally features brushed surfaces, but with the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition 150 Years, it is a mix of polished and brushed surfaces. While this is a tool-watch first and foremost, intended to do one task only and to do that as best as it possibly can, it does tie in the polished, lacquered dial with the large steel case. Yes, this is a big watch, and yes it stands out while wearing it, but IWC has never intended anything else with this collection. That doesn’t mean it is lacking in elegance, does it?
The annual calendar display is a useful addition to the otherwise simple indications of the Big Pilot. One that adds a level of complexity, while staying true to its original purpose. The curved configuration of three windows on the upper area of the dial – displaying the month, date and day – doesn’t compromise the legibility of the watch. The American format of the complication (month-date-day) fits right into the company’s roots, as it was American watchmaker and engineer Florentine Ariosto Jones who founded the International Watch Company in 1868 after travelling from the USA to Europe.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition 150 Years is fitted with the 52850 Calibre, the same movement as all other annual calendar watches produced by the brand. The annual calendar complication is spread across three discs, one for each indication. The movement automatically adjusts the display according to the duration of the months (except in February, of course). Equipped with a double barrel, it boasts seven days of power reserve. With its automatic winding, it becomes a watch you can pretty much forget about. Put it away for a few days and you don’t have to worry if it stops running. The big plus of double barrels versus a larger single barrel is that they offer more stability over the full range of power.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition 150 Years is limited to 100 pieces and costs EUR 20,200. I am sure it will be yet another highly collectable piece due to its limited edition status and its beautiful dial. More details on IWC.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.