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IWC Big Pilot

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IWC Die Grosse Fliegeruhr Pilot IW500201
IWC Die Grosse Fliegeruhr Pilot IW500201
£5,950
Free shipping
Seller
Watches & Jewellery of Bond Street Ltd
268
UK
IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage
TOP
IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage
£9,288
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
512
UK
IWC Big Pilot  IW500912
IWC Big Pilot IW500912
£8,651
Seller
Your Luxury Time LTD
415
UK
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW502620
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW502620
£19,250
Seller
Watchfinder.co.uk Ltd
UK
IWC IW500422 Big Pilot Exupéry - Saint Exupery  'Limited Edition'
IWC IW500422 Big Pilot Exupéry - Saint Exupery 'Limited Edition'
£8,450
Free shipping
Seller
Watch Club
56
UK
IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Rose
IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Rose
£32,016
Seller
Chad Warrick
16
US
IWC Big Pilot “Le Petit Prince” Stainless Steel Watch IW501002
IWC Big Pilot “Le Petit Prince” Stainless Steel Watch IW501002
£6,803
Free shipping
Seller
Avi & Co NY
101
US
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£9,170
Seller
Heritage Watches Ltd
37
UK
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£7,250
Seller
Watches Of Westminster
31
UK
IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint Exupery Limited Edition 7 Days...
IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint Exupery Limited Edition 7 Days...
£7,950
Seller
CHRONO WATCH
115
UK
IWC Big Pilots Antoine de Saint Exupery Edition
IWC Big Pilots Antoine de Saint Exupery Edition
£14,995
Seller
Swiss Watch Company Ltd.
260
UK
IWC Big Pilot IW501002
IWC Big Pilot IW501002
£9,835
Seller
Your Luxury Time LTD
415
UK
BRANDBOUTIQUE Member
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IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500201
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500201
£7,395
Seller
Watchfinder.co.uk Ltd
UK
IWC Big Pilot’s Annual Calendar  "Antoine De Saint Exupery"
TOP
IWC Big Pilot’s Annual Calendar "Antoine De Saint Exupery"
£33,592
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
512
UK
IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Boutique Edition
IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Boutique Edition
£25,613
Seller
Chad Warrick
16
US
IWC Big Pilot Bronze Limited Edition IW501005
IWC Big Pilot Bronze Limited Edition IW501005
£8,784
Seller
Harley's Time LLC
229
US
IWC Big Pilot 7 Days
IWC Big Pilot 7 Days
£6,464
Seller
Watch Center London
812
UK
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£5,500
Seller
Private Seller
 
UK
IWC : Big Pilot :  IW500912 :  Stainless steel
IWC : Big Pilot : IW500912 : Stainless steel
£7,003
Seller
Bernard Watch Co.
290
US
IWC Big Pilots Antoine de Saint Exupery Edition
IWC Big Pilots Antoine de Saint Exupery Edition
£9,495
Seller
Swiss Watch Company Ltd.
260
UK
IWC Big Pilot's Watch Edition Le Petit Prince
IWC Big Pilot's Watch Edition Le Petit Prince
£8,924
Free shipping
Seller
Guardian Of Time
840
UK
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
£6,950
Seller
Watchfinder.co.uk Ltd
UK
IWC Big Pilot’S Heritage Watch 48
IWC Big Pilot’S Heritage Watch 48
£11,128
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
512
UK
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£7,164
Seller
Chad Warrick
16
US
IWC Big Pilot   TRANSITIONAL
IWC Big Pilot TRANSITIONAL
£9,500
Seller
Neil Watches
 
UK
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot Annual Calendar Spitfire Dial
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot Annual Calendar Spitfire Dial
£11,906
Seller
Element iN Time NYC
181
US
IWC Big Pilot LE PETIT PRINCE
IWC Big Pilot LE PETIT PRINCE
£8,000
Seller
Private Seller
 
UK
IWC : Big Pilot 'Slow Beat' 7-Day :  IW500201 :  Stainless Steel
IWC : Big Pilot 'Slow Beat' 7-Day : IW500201 : Stainless Steel
£7,832
Seller
Bernard Watch Co.
290
US
IWC Big Pilots Watch - First Generation Collectors Piece
IWC Big Pilots Watch - First Generation Collectors Piece
£7,495
Seller
Swiss Watch Company Ltd.
260
UK
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£8,724
Free shipping
Seller
Guardian Of Time
840
UK
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW502606
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW502606
£19,450
Seller
Watchfinder.co.uk Ltd
UK
IWC Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Antoine de Saint Exupery
IWC Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Antoine de Saint Exupery
£24,186
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
512
UK
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£30,815
Seller
Chad Warrick
16
US
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar
£26,775
Seller
Ian Blowers Jewellers
44
UK
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot 18k Rose Gold 46mm Slate Dial
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot 18k Rose Gold 46mm Slate Dial
£18,561
Seller
Element iN Time NYC
181
US
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£5,803
Seller
Radcliffe
120
US
IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint Exupery Edition LE
IWC Big Pilot Antoine de Saint Exupery Edition LE
£8,564
Seller
NoblesseWatch
167
UK
IWC Big Pilots Watch
IWC Big Pilots Watch
£6,695
Seller
Swiss Watch Company Ltd.
260
UK
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£10,017
Free shipping
Seller
Guardian Of Time
840
UK
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
£7,395
Seller
Watchfinder.co.uk Ltd
UK
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch
£9,734
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
512
UK
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£13,447
Free shipping
Seller
Chrono Hour Passion
263
US
IWC Big Pilots Watch IW5004-01
IWC Big Pilots Watch IW5004-01
£7,300
Seller
Ian Blowers Jewellers
44
UK
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot 7 Day Power Reserve Stainless...
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot 7 Day Power Reserve Stainless...
£6,623
Seller
Element iN Time NYC
181
US
IWC Big Pilot Slow Beat
IWC Big Pilot Slow Beat
£7,964
Seller
Beverly Hills Watch Company
34
US
IWC Big Pilot IW5004
IWC Big Pilot IW5004
£5,883
Seller
NoblesseWatch
167
UK
IWC Big Pilot's Watch iw501004 Heritage
IWC Big Pilot's Watch iw501004 Heritage
£8,804
Free shipping
Seller
Prestige Time
230
US
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£6,000
Seller
Private Seller
 
UK
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
£6,950
Seller
Watchfinder.co.uk Ltd
UK
IWC Big Pilot's Watch Edition Le Petit Prince
IWC Big Pilot's Watch Edition Le Petit Prince
£9,734
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
512
UK
IWC Große Fliegeruhr Big Pilot Ref. IW500901
TOP
IWC Große Fliegeruhr Big Pilot Ref. IW500901
£8,824
Seller
Uhren2000 GmbH
377
DE
IWC The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar
IWC The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar
£24,100
Seller
Ian Blowers Jewellers
44
UK
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot Heritage Titanium 8 Day 48mm...
IWC Pilot Collection Big Pilot Heritage Titanium 8 Day 48mm...
£8,524
Seller
Element iN Time NYC
181
US
IWC Big Pilot Bronze
IWC Big Pilot Bronze
£7,964
Seller
Beverly Hills Watch Company
34
US
IWC Big Pilot
IWC Big Pilot
£8,600
Seller
Watch Philosophy
41
UK
IWC Big Pilot 7 Days Power Reserve Automatic Steel Mens Watch...
IWC Big Pilot 7 Days Power Reserve Automatic Steel Mens Watch...
£6,603
Seller
Priceless Shine Inc
36
US
IWC Big Pilot Ref. IWIW500901
IWC Big Pilot Ref. IWIW500901
£6,500
Seller
Investing In Time Ltd.
16
UK
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
IWC Watch Big Pilots IW500401
£6,950
Seller
Watchfinder.co.uk Ltd
UK
IWC Big Pilot Heritage
IWC Big Pilot Heritage
£9,944
Seller
WatchesofMayfair.com
512
UK
IWC BIG PILOT “FATHER EDITION”
IWC BIG PILOT “FATHER EDITION”
£10,325
Seller
Royal Jewelers
11
US
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The Big Pilot from IWC: A Bold Timepiece

The Big Pilot from IWC delivers exactly what its name promises: It's a large tool watch created specifically for pilots. IWC introduced this classic watch for the first time in 1940 and since then it has gained cult status.

Highlights

  • Famous pilot's watch
  • Case diameters ranging from 46 to 55 mm
  • Easy to read thanks to a large dial and stark color contrast
  • Protected against magnetic fields
  • Special limited edition collector's models

A Cockpit Inspired Design

The International Watch Company, better known as IWC, has been producing watches meant for pilots since 1936. In 1940, during the Second World War, the company introduced the 52-caliber T. S. C. Big Pilot's Watch. The timepiece, reference number 431, had a 55-mm case and weighed 183 grams. It remains the largest watch IWC has ever produced. Its case size was, at the time, much larger than average due to the use of an in-house movement originally developed to fit pocket watches. The watch ran precisely and in accordance with the chronometer norm. The central seconds could be stopped in order to allow pilots and navigators to sync their watches with each other or with a time signal to the exact second.

Altogether, the imposing IWC timepieces met the technological standards of the time. The dial had a similar design to the circular cockpit instruments in propeller planes such as the Junkers Ju 52. Clear legibility even under poor lighting conditions was a predominant concern. Thanks to the watch's large dimensions, only one look was required to gather the time. The design was based solely around its legibility: A black dial contrasted with the white stick indices, Arabic numerals, and sword hands. A triangle marked the 12-hour position, and luminous material ensured that the watch was legible at night. The German Air Force supplied their crews with these IWC watches. However, IWC combined Swiss neutrality and business sense in a unique way: The Mark XI from 1948, another legendary pilot's watch, was purchased by the British Royal Air Force and used for 30 years.

Big Pilot's Watch

The Big Pilot's Watch from 1940 has experienced multiple comebacks. The first was in 2002 with the Big Pilot's Watch, which is still part of the collection. The original 55-mm case size wasn't practical for everyday wear, so IWC downsized the newer watch to 46 mm with a thickness of 16 mm. They also added a round power reserve display at three o'clock to an otherwise sparse dial. The watch has an impressive power reserve of seven days; it's even more impressive when you consider most other mechanical wristwatches have power reserves lasting less than two days. The automatic movement features a Pellaton winding system. The system is named after its inventor, Albert Pellaton, who was the technical director at IWC for many years. The patented mechanism winds the movement bidirectionally and, together with the long mainspring, enables a week-long power reserve.

The Big Pilot's Watch also has a date display at six o'clock, a feature not present on the 1940 model. The striking, large onion crown is screw-down. The watch is waterproof to 60 m, equal to a pressure of six bar.

The historical origin of the watch's design is easy to see, as it has a black dial with white sword hands, white stick indices, and Arabic numerals. There's even a triangle at 12 o'clock instead of the numeral, giving the Big Pilot a clear retro look.

The in-house caliber 51111 is protected by a soft-iron case designed to prevent deviation from the correct time caused by magnetic fields. The case was necessary since there are strong magnetic fields present in airplanes caused by the electricity needed for fuel injection. The case back of this stainless steel watch with reference number IW500912 features an engraving of the famous German aircraft Junkers Ju 52.

Big Pilot's Heritage Watch

IWC added two additional Big Pilot watches to their portfolio in 2016, both of which followed in the footsteps of the original from 1940: the Big Pilot's Heritage models, available in 48 and 55 mm. Both have a titanium case and weigh 120 and 150 grams, respectively. By and large, they look the same, apart from their size difference. The hands and indices on the black dial are somewhere between antique white and cream. Together with the riveted, brown calfskin strap, it has a much more old-fashioned feel than the 46-mm Big Pilot. Furthermore, one important difference is how the watch is wound. The Big Pilot from 2002 winds automatically from arm movements, while the newer watches require the wearer to wind them via a crown.

The in-house caliber 59215 powers the Big Pilot's Heritage Watch 48 with an impressive eight-day power reserve. The power reserve display is located on the back side and visible through a small, round opening in the titanium case. The dial has a central seconds and minute hands as well as a small seconds at six o'clock with an integrated date display, and the white sword hands feature blued borders.

The Big Pilot's Heritage Watch 55 has a diameter of 55 mm, exactly matching its historical predecessor. It is powered by the in-house caliber 98300, which has no date display or power reserve indicator - also like the original. However, unlike the watch from the 1940s, it doesn't feature central seconds, but rather a small seconds at six o'clock.

Buying Advice

Are you looking for an impressive, large watch with a functional design and retro flair? Then you should consider the Big Pilot.

If the Big Pilot participated in a pilot's watch competition, it would certainly win top prize. That's no surprise - it's the quintessential pilot's watch with a diameter of at least 46 mm, a contrasting black/white color combination, and a clear dial. The watch is even more eye-catching when paired with a suit and tie. It doesn't simply disappear under shirt sleeves, as it's meant to be worn over flight suits. The Big Pilot can be considered an uncompromising alternative to the classic dress watch.

If the "regular" Big Pilots would win, then the Heritage models with their larger diameters of 48 and 55 mm would certainly receive even higher marks. IWC produced these watches in a limited run of 1,000 48-mm watches (reference number 5103) and only 100 55-mm versions (reference number 5104). For the smaller Heritage model, you should be prepared to pay around 13,000 euros. The much rarer 55-mm version initially cost around 15,000 euros, but it has risen in value due to its limited run. Other special editions are available in the five-figure range, such as a version with an 18-karat red gold or platinum case. IWC abandoned the Big Pilot's minimalism in some models, adding complications like a perpetual calendar. These versions range from 20,000 to 30,000 euros.

The stainless steel Big Pilot is significantly more affordable; new, it costs around 10,000 euros.

The Jones Caliber

The pocket watch caliber which IWC used to power their first large pilot's watch is nicknamed the Jones caliber after the founder of the company, Florentine Ariosto Jones (1841 - 1916). The Bostonian founded the company in 1868 in Switzerland, but import taxes to the United States were expensive. In the end, exporting the watches from Schaffhausen failed. IWC changed owners many times after Jones left the company and today it belongs to the luxury goods concern Richemont. Richemont also owns famous brands such as Panerai and Cartier.

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