Style Through the Generations: IWC’s Ageless Big Pilot Takes Flight

by decwells
Style Through the Generations: IWC’s Ageless Big Pilot Takes Flight


Every great story has a beginning, but not all are destined to end. Some are simply reborn, unraveled by time and reworked for a new generation. The words may be different, those who tell it – a little older, but the sentiment remains timeless. For the Swiss luxury watchmaker IWC Schaffhausen, the story is still being written.

More than eight decades since the legendary Maison unveiled the first iteration of its large “B-Uhr” military navigation watch, IWC has once again put pen to paper and created a new chapter in the indelible history of the Big Pilot’s Watch. But make no mistake, this is not just your grandfather’s wristwatch.

The prologue

You don’t always set out to create a legacy, but somewhere along the way the vision becomes clear. In the case of the Big Pilot, the story dates back to 1940 and the introduction of 1,000 large “B-Uhr” watches. Comprehensive instruments of military precision, the original Pilot’s release laid the groundwork for what would become a staple in the horological world. Subsequent evolutions and innovations blazed a trail to 2002 and the Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. IW5002) was born. With design inspiration from cockpit instruments and with a diameter of 46.2 mm, the innovative mix of old and new immediately became one of IWC’s most famous lines.

Characterized by minimalist underpinnings and functional essence, the collection’s timeless design language and robust performance specifications make it a force to be reckoned with. Even with a modified case size of 43mm, these pieces turn heads from across the room, courtesy of the large crowns, legible numerals and monochromatic hands.

Since 2002’s ill-fated revival, the IWC favorite has set its sights on revamping the range. From the 2006 Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. IW500401) that introduced a faster caliber movement to the incredible Perpetual Calendar Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. IW502605) that reimagined the original flight watch, IWC has proven time and time again that true style is ageless.

Rewrite the script

With a legacy that spans generations, the Big Pilot’s Watch has the prized virtue of versatility and you only need to take a look to understand why. Ideal for the sophisticated dad, while still modern enough to feel innately fresh, the watch looks just as at home on the wrist of someone in their 20s as it does on someone in their 50s and beyond. When combined with a curated wardrobe, it becomes a living celebration of enduring and adaptable style.

The best part? Because IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch traverses so many generations, the watch never loses its desirability, allowing each wearer to enjoy its unique ability to pair with different ensembles. There’s genuine power to be gleaned from the series’ expert use of minimalist design, which eschews gimmickry in favor of bold simplicity and superb performance.

Iwc large pilot group shot copy

Truly, the Big Pilot’s Watch is not about trends or fads, it is a testament to those who prefer style that stands the test of time. In fact, it is through various worlds that the line remains timeless in the truest sense of the word. One can still trace certain details and features back to those groundbreaking 1940s predecessors. But with the use of eye-catching dial colors, modified case sizes, new movements and updated materials comes a newfound sense of generation-spanning allure.

The next chapter

Eighty years after its humble beginnings, IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch turns over a new leaf. With a host of new iterations bearing the iconic moniker for 2022, the watchmaker has a versatile style and we have the photos to prove it. Arriving just in time for Father’s Day, the generation-spanning stunner was celebrated in style. In a fitting nod to the versatility of the Big Pilot’s Watch, four of the releases have made their presence felt, arriving on the wrists of four starkly different canvases. From the 50-year-old father of two to the 20-year-old fresh-faced watch fan, the timepieces, all available at luxury retailer Watches of Switzerland, shine through.

Great pilots watch 43 iw329301 copy

Big Pilot’s Watch 43 (IW329301)

For the distinguished gentleman with multiple passions, we present this effortlessly versatile sports watch. It flanks a solid black dial with a 43mm prime stainless steel case and brown leather strap. Turn the piece over to see the in-house 82100 caliber through the sapphire crystal case back. Reinforced with ceramic components, the ultra-reliable movement and its Pellaton winding system deliver a power reserve of up to 60 hours.

  • Movement: Automatic, self-winding
  • Caliber: 82100 caliber
  • Crystal: Sapphire glass, convex, anti-reflective coating on both sides
  • Water resistance: 10 bar
  • Bracelet strap: Brown calfskin strap with EasX-CHANGE system
  • Power reserve: 60 hours

Buy it here

Great pilots watch 43 iw329303 new copy

Big Pilot’s Watch 43 (IW329303)

With its beautiful blue dial, large numerals and rhodium-plated hands, this model could very well be a personal favorite. Its silver-tone stainless steel case and oversized crown inject the perfect amount of modern contrast. Sealing the deal is blue calfskin dial, which can be swapped seamlessly for rubber or stainless steel using the EasX-CHANGE system.

  • Movement: Automatic, self-winding
  • Caliber: 82100 caliber
  • Crystal: Sapphire glass, convex, anti-reflective coating on both sides
  • Water resistance: 10 bar
  • Bracelet strap: Blue calfskin strap with EasX-CHANGE system
  • Power reserve: 60 hours

Buy it here

Great pilots watch 43 iw329304 copy

Big Pilot’s Watch 43 (IW329304)

This brilliant model brings in a steel bracelet, thus enhancing the aforementioned contrast between blue and silver. Like its 43 mm brethren, it runs on 82100 Caliber with a central hack-seconds complication and offers water resistance to 10 bar.

  • Movement: Automatic, self-winding
  • Caliber: 82100 caliber
  • Crystal: Sapphire glass, convex, anti-reflective coating on both sides
  • Water resistance: 10 bar
  • Bracelet strap: Stainless steel bracelet with EasX-CHANGE system
  • Power reserve: 60 hours

Buy it here

Great pilots watch edition 22le petit prince22 copy

Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Le Petit Prince”

To put the “Big” in Big Pilot, the “Le Petit Prince” special edition measures in with a 46.2mm case design. No less powerful under the skin, it runs on the in-house caliber 52111 automatic, self-winding movement with a whopping seven-day power reserve. Opposite the classic blue dial is a solid case back with an engraving of the little prince himself, the beloved character from a classic book of the same name.

  • Movement: Automatic self-excitation
  • Caliber: IWC caliber 52111
  • Crystal: Sapphire glass, convex anti-reflective coating on both sides
  • Water resistance: 6 bar
  • Bracelet strap: Brown calfskin strap from Santoni
  • Power reserve: 168 hours / 7 days

Buy it here

The legacy lives on

As the pages continue to turn and the story continues to take shape, the best chapters are yet to come for the Big Pilot’s Watch. After all, nothing makes an impression of minimalist design like the legendary aviation timepiece. His story may be long and constantly evolving, but read through a new set of eyes, this story’s magic is renewed. The perfect Father’s Day gift perhaps, but this timeless collection isn’t just for dads. You can view the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch collection by Watches of Switzerland today.

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