The 2021 IWC Big Pilot in 43mm IW329301

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The new IWC Big Pilot is now available in a smaller 43mm case size without the power reserve and a movement with lower power reserve. It reserves a similar styling to the 2012 version in case shape and dial elements. The key difference will be the smaller size and lower price. The new model also comes with the latest quick release strap mechanism for easy strap changes.

Review: IWC Big Pilot in 43mm IW329301

The Case and Dial

Sized at 43mm in diameter, the case wears smaller than the previous 46mm. The stainless steel case measures 13.6mm in height, appropriately matched with a large onion crown. Contextually, the design is functional and enables pilots who are wearing leather gloves to more easily adjust their watches via a large crown.

The dial layout is utilitarian and legible. The instrument style watch retains its military inspiration, and uses a straightforward stick marker ring, with arabic hour numerals.

A pair of rhodium plated sword-shaped hands are used to indicate the hour and minutes. The hands and hour markers are lume filled and applied.

The dial layout is simple and similar to the original 1940 edition of the Big Pilot watch. This is a reduction in contrast to the 46mm version with an additional power reserve indicator and date window.

The new Big Pilot also comes with a practical EasX-CHANGE system and a choice of straps in calfskin, rubber or stainless steel. Combined with the now 10 bar water-resistant case, this transforms the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 into a modern, fully versatile sports watch.

The Movement

Visible through the sapphire glass case back is the IWC-manufactured 82100 calibre. IWC’s Pellaton automatic winding system, uses both directions of the rotor to wind the mainspring.

As in the IWC-manufactured 52000 calibre family, components in the system subject to pronounced stress, such as the pawls, the automatic wheel, or the cam, are made of ceramic. Thanks to the use of this high-tech material, they are virtually wear-free.

The efficient automatic winding system builds up a power reserve of at least 60 hours in the mainspring. The indexless balance with a flat coil oscillates at a frequency of 4 hertz (28,800 beats per hour), ensuring a high level of precision. The rotor is skeletonised and offers a view of the movement decorated with circular graining and Geneva stripes.

Concluding thoughts

The new Big Pilot answers a call for a lower priced and more wearable pilot’s watch. Considering the original size back in 1940 was 55mm, 46mm was already a modern wearable option of this icon. At 43mm, the watch goes into unisex territory, an option that was previously shunned by the masculine brand in its less politically correct past. Sliding through the image carousel on the product display page also reveals the watch on a lady’s wrist.

The watch is priced at CHF8,900 compared to the 46mm at CHF13,900. It has a base movement versus the 52110 Calibre which has an additional 100 hours in power reserve. The watch is positioned as a more wearable option to the larger Big Pilot that also comes with a more affordable price tag.


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1 Comment

  1. I just got mine. I see lots of people still shunning the reduction in size.

    First, if you’re not wearing a 55mm original, they’re all smaller.

    Second, one is more true due to size (46), the other is more true in dial design.

    Third, if 43mm is big on your wrist, it’s still a big pilot. It doesn’t have to have lugs overhanging your wrist like a kid wearing his dads watch to be a “big pilot”. Obviously if the 46 works for you, buy that one.