Every year, IWC will focus on a particular collection to refresh its line-up. For 2021, the main highlights of its novelties will come from the well-known Pilot’s collection.
The new 2021 collection focuses on two aspects – in the form of new updated in-house movements, as well as new case sizes. There are also a few pieces with new design cues, and concepts as well. We will be selecting some of our few favourite novelties to feature for this article.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL
Retail: CHF 80,000 (approximately SGD 116,250), and limited to 10 pieces a year until 2023
The most talked-about novelty from this year’s launch is perhaps the Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL.
It is no surprise that the watch received quite a fair bit of attention, considering its polarising design and its capabilities. Conservatives may feel that the 44mm is a little too “shocking” and a little less elegant than the brand’s typical offerings, but there are also collectors who opine that this is the sort of avant-garde design that makes this piece unique. For us, we are certainly glad that the brand has the guts to attempt something different from the rest of the crowd.
Moving on to its capabilities, the watch features a patented shock absorber system that was eight years in the making. Known as the SPRIN-g PROTECT system, this cantilever-based mechanism – together with the Bulk Metallic Glass – is capable of withstanding up to 30,000g in forces. Other interesting technical features include a custom-made lightweight movement, as well as a proprietary matte black titanium alloy case named Ceratanium.
The watch might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is certainly refreshing to IWC breaking boundaries and going against the norms with contemporary aesthetics. It is an interesting watch for sure, and we would definitely love to have a go at this watch in person someday.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43
Retail: SGD 12,600 (Calf Leather) to SGD 14,000 (Steel Bracelet)
The IWC Big Pilot is one of the watches that drove the trend of large watches. Cased with a dimension of 46.2mm across, the massive timepiece certainly has a great wrist presence.
Its large case, unfortunately, means that there are not many individuals who are able to wear the piece comfortably on the wrist. This is particularly true amongst us Asians, who typically have a smaller wrist. The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 attempts to solve this, with a smaller timepiece that features the watch’s now-iconic dial layout.
To add icing on the cake, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is a time-only watch. According to IWC, this is an “authentic interpretation of the iconic design”, which we wholeheartedly agree with. We like its clean and legible design, although there are definitely collectors who might prefer the additional complications that will make this watch more “user-friendly”.
Finally, the watch is powered with the in-house Calibre 82100, which is a self-winding movement with a power reserve of 60 hours. It also comes with the brand’s new EasX-CHANGE quick strap change mechanism, which allows the owner to easily enjoy the versatility of the piece with a myriad of strap options (calf leather, stainless steel bracelet, and rubber strap).
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch – Top Gun Edition ‘Mojave Desert’
Retail: USD 14,800 (approximately SGD 19,885) for Big Pilot’s Watch; USD 35,000 (approximately SGD 47,027) for Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert”
The “Mojave Desert”, which drew inspiration from the dry and barren landscape of China Lake, is a sand-coloured ceramic timepiece with a complementary dark brown dial and sand-coloured rubber strap.
Previously featured on the Pilot’s Chronograph, the theme has found its way into the Big Pilot’s collection – notably the Perpetual Calendar and Big Pilot’s Watch. The case, notably, is one of the hardest substances on Earth – which means it is highly resistant to scratches. Definitely a good watch to consider for rugged environments, especially for collectors who might need to put themselves in situations as tough as the trainings in Top Gun.
Besides the three watches, IWC had also launched both the new Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar and Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41. The former, which boasts one of the most accurate perpetual calendar and moon phase mechanisms, is one of the most iconic pieces in the collection. The latter, which is another mainstay of the Pilot’s collection, now features a more ergonomic 41mm case. We will be featuring the Chronograph with an in-depth hands-on article at a later date.
The new Pilot’s watches are great pieces. They are still largely recognisable, sans the Big Pilot’s Watch Shock Absorber XPL which is pretty atypical from the Schaffhausen-based manufacturer. We like the non-conformist approach of the latter, and we do hope that the brand will continue to deliver with less conservative pieces in their collections.