Top 5 Extreme Expedition Watches
As one of Richemont’s biggest brands, a lot of people were looking forward to seeing what IWC Schaffhausen would release at the SIHH 2019. At this year’s SIHH, IWC has expanded upon their beloved Pilot’s Collection. The brand has added new watches with some exciting materials to the Top Gun series, updated and introduced a new Spitfire series, and topped it all off with two “Le Petit Prince” models and a special edition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry.” So, let’s dive in and take a closer look at how the landscape of IWC’s Pilot’s collection has changed.
We begin with the IWC Top Gun line of watches, which is all about the use of new materials. The biggest news is the release of the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium. It is the first IWC pilot’s watch to feature a ceratanium (or ceramic titanium) case. This lightweight material developed by IWC takes the best of lightweight titanium and combines it with that of scratch-resistant ceramic. It’s also allowed IWC to produce a completely black watch without having to use a coating. This includes every component, down to the push-pieces and pin buckle.
The base material for IWC’s ceratanium is a titanium alloy that goes through a complex, multi-stage manufacturing process. During this process, the material develops its hardness and scratch resistance and also gets its matte black color. Contrary to conventional coating, the ceramic surface of ceratanium becomes part of the base material instead of sitting as a layer on top. This is the first time both that IWC has used ceratanium in the Pilot’s collection and that this material has been used in a watch meant for regular series production. The Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium (ref. IW371815) is powered by the automatic IWC caliber 79420, which boasts a 44-hour power reserve and an integrated split-seconds mechanism for measuring two short periods of time simultaneously.
This watch stands out as the first to have a case made of sand-colored ceramic. In addition to its unique case, this timepiece features matching hands and a textile strap as well as a dark brown dial. This color combination takes its inspiration from the Mojave Desert and is sure to attract plenty of attention. It somehow manages to look fresh while also feeling familiar and right at home in the Top Gun collection. The sand-colored ‘Mojave Desert’ edition (Ref. IW389103) is limited to a run of 500 pieces.
IWC’s in-house caliber 69380 powers this watch. This movement utilizes a classic column wheel design and provides this timepiece with its chronograph function as well as a display for the day and date. A 46-hour power reserve rounds off its functionality. You can also find this movement in the updated black ceramic version of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun (ref. IW389101), which also debuted at SIHH 2019.
The final watch from the Top Gun line that IWC tweaked for 2019 is the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Top Gun (ref. IW326901). IWC has treated it to their in-house 32110 caliber from the new 32000 family of movements. All in all, IWC appears to be continuing to improve their Top Gun watches, which they’ve been producing since 2007.
Another popular line within the IWC Pilot’s Collection is the Spitfire series. For 2019, IWC has introduced a new set of Spitfire watches. Each features an in-house caliber and comes in one of two Spitfire color schemes. The first is the familiar stainless-steel case with a black dial and green textile strap. The second is the new and more eye-catching configuration of a bronze case, olive green dial, and brown calf leather strap. Both play on the Spitfire’s original design inspired by the iconic IWC Mark XI watch, which was the ultimate testament to form and function in its time.
Now let’s take an in-depth look at the new additions to the IWC Spitfire series. The first is the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire (ref. IW503601) powered by the IWC’s caliber 52615. This movement has a Pellaton winding system, ceramic components, and two barrels. It also features a perpetual calendar. This watch comes with a bronze case, olive green dial, gold-plated hands, and a brown calf leather strap and is limited to a run of 250 pieces.
The next watch is the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight” (ref. IW395501). This timepiece combines the patented Timezoner mechanism with IWC’s newly developed automatic 82760 caliber and is also limited to 250 watches. This special edition is dedicated to the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project and was developed for the project’s two pilots, Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones. The pair is planning to fly around the world in a Spitfire starting on August 18, 2019.
The watch has a stainless steel case, black dial, rhodium-plated hands, and green textile strap. The new movement with the patented Timezoner mechanism can be set to a different time zone simply by rotating the bezel. The hour hand, 24-hour display, and date adjust themselves automatically. IWC’s new 82760 caliber features the Pellaton winding system with components made from wear-resistant ceramic and boasts a 60-hour power reserve.
Another brand-new limited edition within the Spitfire line is the Pilot’s Watch UTC Spitfire Edition “MJ271” (ref. IW327101). This watch features a Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) function, the first time IWC has integrated such a function into an in-house movement. The bronze case pairs nicely with an olive green dial, gold-plated hands, and brown calf leather strap. IWC will only make 271 copies of this watch.
Last but certainly not least are the updated versions of the popular Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire and Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire. The biggest change to the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire is the introduction of the in-house caliber 69380, resulting in a smaller, 41-mm case. The watch comes in two designs. You can choose either the stainless steel version with a black dial, rhodium-plated hands, and green textile strap (ref. IW387901) or the bronze model with an olive green dial, gold-plated hands, and brown calf leather strap (ref. IW387902).
IWC has also worked on the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire and given it their 32110 in-house caliber. This 39-mm watch is available in the same color schemes as the Chronograph Spitfire. The stainless steel edition is listed under the reference number IW326801 and the bronze variant under IW326802.
The final watches IWC announced at SIHH 2019 are two additions to the ‘Le Petit Prince’ series. These timepieces, characterized by their distinctive midnight blue dials, are dedicated to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)—the most important literary work by the French writer and pilot.
First, there’s the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition ‘Le Petit Prince’. The in-house caliber 94805 powers this timepiece. This movement combines a constant-force tourbillon with a perpetual moon phase display, which will first require manual adjustment in 577.5 years. You’ll find the “Petit Prince” standing on the display’s moon. The watch also features a power reserve display that lets you know how much of the 96-hour power reserve remains. Both versions of this timepiece are limited to 10 pieces. One has a platinum case, blue dial, rhodium-plated hands, and brown calf leather strap (ref. IW590302). The other has an 18-karat hard gold case, blue dial, gold-plated hands, and a brown calf leather strap (ref. IW590303).
The last watch IWC has added to its ‘Le Petit Prince’ series is the Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph. It’s the first Pilot’s Watch to combine a perpetual calendar with a chronograph. The Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Chronograph (ref. IW392202) is powered by the in-house caliber 89630 and features an 18-karat red gold case, blue dial, 18-karat gold hands, and brown calf leather strap. This timepiece is limited to a run of 250 pieces.
As you can see, IWC has made quite a few additions to their highly successful Pilot’s Collection. That being said, in most cases, it’s been about updating movements and materials instead of new designs. Even so, fans of this highly popular collection are sure to welcome these new models with open arms. The stand-out timepiece is probably the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert.” After that, the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire and Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire in stainless steel are likely to appeal to a large audience and be in high demand.