An interesting followup to a special watch created in 2008 by Markus Bühler is now adapted for a new tourbillon wrist watch in the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Tourbillon “Markus Bühler” Ref. IW329901.
Press Release information with commentary in italics.
New: IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Tourbillon “Markus Bühler”
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Tourbillon “Markus Bühler” Ref. IW329901 will retail at CHF 125,000 including taxes. Limited edition of 51 pieces.
As an interesting followup, some 15 years after the first series of 12 watches released Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler, IWC releases the tourbillon version. The 2008 Edition was first made when Markus Bühler won first prize at the Prix IFHH de l’Horlogerie 2003 (today Concours IHC) competition for apprentices. Markus Bühler, then an IWC apprentice watchmaker was the inventor and builder of the turbine movement which had impressed not only the jury, but also his superiors. The idea of launching a special model based on the victorious movement was born.
The original watch created by Markus had a small-dimensioned aircraft engine attached to the pinion of the seconds hand and rotates as a seconds indicator on the dial side. In addition, from the case back the spring barrel and ratchet wheel is skeletonised in the form of blade wheels. This was placed within a raised metal ring, and represents an aircraft engine. The original watch was based on the ubiquitious Unitas pocket watch movement. This was a requirement by the competition jury, which set the task of exposing the mainspring in the most creative way possible. In order to achieve this, the barrel drum, barrel bridge and rachet wheel had to be made visible by skeletonisation. The contestants were expected to adopt a technically impeccable, faultless and functional approach, to assure the functions during winding and on top to score points for originality. Markus opted to replace the spring barrel of a watch with the miniature turbine engine of a passenger aircraft, using the idea that both turbine engine and watch movement perform the same task to provide the drive. As an interesting comparison, the rotational speeds lie at opposite ends of the scale – whereas an aircraft turbine engine operates at 150,000 revolutions per minute, the spring barrel moves through only 0.0033 of a revolution in the same period and thus rotates no more than three to four times in a single day. As a consequence of him winning the prize, IWC decided to commercialise the idea, resulting in the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler Ref. IW 5003.
And they now follow this up with this novelty by including a flying tourbillon drive the dial side turbine blades. From the front, the two editions look quite similar, with the characteristic Big Pilot’s Watch look on the dial and aperture showcasing the spinning turbine which serves as the seconds hand. But in the first edition, this is directly driven by the fourth wheel, while in the latest edition, the turbine is attached to the tourbillon carriage. We find this modest showing of the tourbillon playing peek a boo with the turbine blades to be quite intriguing.
Interestingly, the caseback scenario is completely different from edition 1 to edition 2. The new watch looks like a regular Caliber 82905 with its large rotor driving the Pellaton winding system. The movement is darkened.
The case material has also changed from stainless steel to platinum, while the case diameter and height has seen a reduction from 46.2mm to 43nn and 15.8mm to 14.6mm. We have arranged for a hands-on and photography session with the watch when it arrives in Singapore, and will share with you more intimate details like how it feels on the wrist and others when the time comes.
IWC Schaffhausen unveils the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler. The timepiece is the long-awaited successor to the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler from 2008. This time, the characteristic aircraft turbine is integrated into a flying minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock, which proved a challenge for design and manufacturing. Limited to 51 pieces, this new interpretation of the “Markus Bühler” watch impresses with its polished platinum case, a glossy black dial and a black Cordovan leather strap. The IWC-manufactured 82905 calibre with blackened components is visible through the sapphire glass back.
Probably no other timepiece from IWC Schaffhausen’s Pilot’s Watches collection has achieved such a cult status among collectors as the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler from 2008. It was inspired by a unique piece Markus Bühler had created for a competition in the final year of his watchmaker apprenticeship at IWC. Its most striking visual feature was the aircraft turbine on the small seconds. Fifteen years later, IWC presents an exclusive new interpretation. Like its predecessor, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler (Ref. IW329901) features a small turbine on the dial. However, the characteristic aircraft engine has been integrated into a flying minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock this time.
“When I created my Big Pilot’s Watch with a turbine as an apprentice watchmaker, I would never have imagined I would lead the development of a second edition15 years later – let alone that I would be responsible for all assembly processes at IWC. To meet the high expectations of our collectors, we decided to create something truly exclusive and integrate the signature turbine into a tourbillon. This new edition perfectly embodies IWC’s engineering spirit while showcasing highest levels of detail and craftsmanship”, explains Markus Bühler, Associate Director of Watch and Movement Assembly at IWC Schaffhausen.
SMALL TURBINE, BIG CHALLENGE
In a tourbillon, the balance and escapement are housed in a small cage that rotates around its axis once per minute. The higher its mass and inertia, the more energy it takes to keep the mechanism in motion. Weight reduction is, therefore, the primary focus in any tourbillon construction. For this reason, the turbine was machined from a lightweight titanium alloy. Due to the complex geometry and the small dimensions, the milling process alone took several hours. After machining, each of the twelve minuscule blades was polished by hand and finished to an incredibly high level of detail and aesthetic perfection. To avoid the turbine adding additional weight to the mechanism, Bühler used it as the upper part of the tourbillon cage, replacing the regulator. As a result, the eye-catcher on the dial also has a technical function: the hairspring attaches to the underside of one of its blades, and the watchmaker can adjust the zero crossing of the balance by turning the turbine. The state-of-the-art tourbillon consists of 56 parts and weighs only 0.663 grams. The pallet lever and the escape wheel were treated with Diamond Shell® technology, a special coating that reduces friction and improves the energy flow in the movement.
PRECIOUS PLATINUM CASE AND DETAILED FINISHING
The 43-millimetre case and the crown are crafted from platinum. Platinum is amongst the rarest, purest and most precious metal used for watches and jewellery. The case has been elaborately finished by hand with polished surfaces around the bezel and the horns. Thanks to this finishing, the whitish shimmer of the platinum is accentuated beautifully, giving the timepiece a refined, sophisticated appearance. The black lacquered, glossy dial has been imprinted with white numerals and features applied indices filled with Super-LumiNova®. A black Cordovan leather strap with Markus Bühler’s signature printed on the inner side complements the design. Powering this Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is the IWC-manufactured 82905 calibre. Its Pellaton winding system has been reinforced with ceramic components and builds up a power reserve of 80 hours in the mainspring. The plates, bridges and the rotor, visible through the sapphire case back, were blackened with a PVD coating, then laser-engraved and finally rhodium-plated in the engraved areas.
FROM APPRENTICE WATCHMAKER TO ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR
The story of the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler and its re-edition is also a testament to the strength of IWC’s apprentice programme. The first edition from 2008 was initially created as an entry for a competition organised by the “Institut de Formation à la Haute Horlogerie,” in which Markus Bühler won first prize. To this day, apprentices’ competitions and events like innovation challenges are a fundamental pillar of IWC’s strategy to foster the development of young talent, create new ideas and engineer cutting-edge watchmaking solutions. After finishing his apprenticeship as a watchmaker, Bühler remained loyal to IWC. Among other positions, he has been Department Manager of Industrialization and Head of Movement Assembly & Industrialization. Since 2020, he has been responsible for the entire spectrum of IWC’s assembly processes at the new Manufakturzentrum as Associate Director of Watch & Movement Assembly.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Tourbillon “Markus Bühler” Ref. IW329901 Specifications
Mechanical movement – Pellaton automatic winding system – Flying minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock with integrated aircraft turbine – See-through sapphire glass back – Glass secured against displacement caused by drops in air pressure – Limited to 51 pieces
IWC-manufactured calibre Frequency
Power reserve: 80 hours
Materials: Platinum case and crown, black dial, rhodium-plated hands, black Cordovan leather strap with special print on the inner side Sapphire, convex, antireflective coating on both sides
Glass: Sapphire, convex, antireflective coating on both sides
Water-resistant: 10 bar, 100m