Forever Replica Watches — With its 55mm case, the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 follows on directly from the Big Pilot’s Watch of 1940.
IWC launched the Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C.) in 1940 and inaugurated the observer’s watches from Schaffhausen. IWC is now reviving this tradition with two new models: the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55, a special edition of 100 pieces, and the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48, which is limited to 1,000 pieces.
We presents today the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55.
For 75 years, the historic Big Pilot’s Watch was the largest wristwatch ever made by IWC. In 2016, the Manufacture unveils its successor: with its 55mm case, the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 eclipses a record that was set back in 1940.
If IWC’s engineers took their cue from the original design and size of 1940, the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 is in titanium and weighs only 150 grams (the original in stainless steel weighed 183 grams). Back then, size meant important advantages: a very big movement guaranteed the precision required for navigation or observer’s Replica Watches and a large dial was better able to accommodate clear numerals and offered much greater legibility. Back in those days, the dial design was very much based on historic cockpit instruments. The dial was matte black, and IWC’s watchmakers had coated the big Arabic numerals and indices showing the minutes with a thick layer of beige-coloured radium. The health hazard posed by radioactive luminescent coatings was only recognized years later, at which point radium was replaced by harmless materials. The current Super-LumiNova®* coating guarantees excellent legibility. As in the original, the chapter ring, Arabic numerals and propeller-like hands are beige.
The figure “9” – omitted in subsequent models of the Big Pilot’s Watch after 2002 – is back in its old, familiar position. And taking the place of the “12” is a triangular index with dots on either side, which make it possible to recognize the relative position of the hands and read the time even with a cursory glance in the dark. Today, the black dial and triangle are two features typical of a classic pilot’s watch. The fact that IWC’s designers chose to place it below “12 o’clock” instead of integrating it in the chapter ring is a further evocation of the 1940 original.
However, there is one small, visible difference: the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 does not feature a central seconds hand like the Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C. – Tirette Seconde Centrale), produced in accordance with military specifications. Back then, pulling out the crown stopped the balance, thus allowing pilots and navigators to synchronize their watches with down-to-the-second accuracy. Today, the small seconds is found at “6 o’clock”, and the IWC hand-wound 98300 calibre can likewise be stopped by pulling out the crown.
As is usual in an observer’s watch, the titanium case is sandblasted to eliminate reflections that might be detrimental to the watch’s legibility or betray the wearer’s position to the enemy. The watch movement itself is protected against magnetic fields by a soft-iron inner case. The cone-shaped crown is a reminder of those early days of flying, when pilots in their unheated cockpits were forced to wear thick gloves. With such a large crown, it would be easy to overwind and damage the mechanism, which for safety’s sake is equipped with a friction clutch to prevent this from happening.
The IWC hand-wound 98300 calibre features an elongated index for simple and precise setting of the active length of the spring, a highly effective shock absorption system and a 46-hour power reserve.
The brown calfskin strap also takes its inspiration from the historic leather strap found on the Big Pilot’s Replica Watches UK. The strap is divided in two and sewn together at the ends, which makes it impossible to drop the watch accidentally when putting it on your wrist. Then, as now, two rivets on the spring bar hold the strap together.