Category Archives: IWC Big Pilot’s Replica Watch

Vintage Eye for the Modern Guy: IWC Big Pilot Replica Watches

There are some watches that have so much history and so many variations in their collections that it would be a horological disservice to attempt to cover every facet of them within one article. The Omega Speedmaster, Cartier Tank, and TAG Heuer Carrera are three such collections that come to mind, but another prime example is the IWC Pilot’s Watch. A few weeks ago, we compared vintage and modern variations of the iconic Mark XVII, but this week we come to an equally popular and integral part of the larger Pilot’s Watch collection: the IWC Big Pilot.

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The famous Pilot’s watch traces its origins back to the 1930s and ’40s and the military air campaigns of World War II. IWC, in conjunction with a number of other Swiss and German manufacturers, began producing the signature Beobachtungs-Uhren, or observation watch, for the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe. This B-Uhr style was characterized by a big steel case and crown, a large triangle at the 12 o’clock mark, and a highly legible black-and-white-accented dial. After the war, interest in this style of pilot’s watch was sparked, and it has remained a popular aesthetic many years after the fall of the Axis powers. Today, of the five original manufacturers of the B-Uhr, Replica Watches, Stowa, and Laco continue to produce popular contemporary iterations of the original piece, and one of the most enduring is the cult-classic piece from IWC that is now known as the Big Pilot.

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IWC’s modern Big Pilot is available as six different watches, and three different references, each with their own respective color combinations and features.The watch features a 46-mm steel case with a noticeably enlarged diamond-shaped crown; inside resides IWC’s in-house Caliber 51111, an automatic movement equipped with IWC Replica Watches, a system that supposedly allows the watch to build up its relatively large seven-day power reserve in little time. On its black dial with white accents, a triangle with two dots appears at the 12 o’clock position, a power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock, and a date indicator at 6 o’clock. The hour markers are indicated by Arabic numerals with an outer minute ring. The IWC Fake Watches uses the recognizable sword-shaped hands for the hours and minutes, and the whole thing is strapped up on a rugged-looking, black, alligator leather strap.

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Comparing this Cheap IWC Big Pilot Replica to past models of the modern Big Pilot, it is clearly recognizable as part of the lineage. When comparing it to vintage examples of the piece — specifically the B-Uhr of the ‘30s and ‘40s — the lineage becomes less obvious, but nonetheless apparent. If you take away the power reserve, date indicator, and modern finishing practices, you have, more or less, the original military watch. Some aesthetic differences would still be evident — in the outer minute ring of the dial, the pronunciation of the diamond-shaped crown, and the presence of the previously less common two dots over the triangle at the 12 o’clock position — but overall the modern Cheap Omega Replica would look rather similar to the vintage piece.

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I find the IWC Big Pilot to be an interesting watch. It is first and foremost a good-looking piece, but with models measuring 46 mm or more in diameter, comfortably wearing and fully enjoying it requires relatively gargantuan wrists (which mine are not). While I do wish the watch had more historical flair, or perhaps less modern flair, I also understand that it is to some extent a “niche” timepiece simply due to its size and price. And perhaps this means it requires the extra features to separate itself from other series and to appeal to a luxury market. Would I like to see a new, more vintage re-interpretation in the future? Yes, but the IWC Big Pilot of today has far outgrown its roots, so I’m not holding my breath.

Time Flies: Historic IWC Pilot’s Replica Watches

IWC Schaffhausen Replica launched a fleet of new Pilot’s watches at this year’s SIHH watch salon in Geneva, continuing the brand’s long and storied heritage as a supplier of timepieces for aviators. Here, courtesy of IWC’s archives, we present a lineup of vintage and modern IWC pilots’ watches that represent milestones for the brand — and for watchmaking history.

THE FIRST IWC WATCH EVER TAKEN INTO THE SKY (1896)

This pocketwatch, with a 14k yellow gold case and containing the IWC-manufactured Caliber 53 movement (no official reference number) was sold by IWC on December 1896 to IWC retailer A. Kohler from Leipzig, Germany. Another German, Albert Lotter, inherited the watch from his father in 1916. During the following years the watch and its owner, who lived in Saxony and Berlin, witnessed many 20th-century historical milestones. The watch still operates with good timekeeping precision.

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IWC started focusing on the production of technically advanced watches built specifically for aviation at a very early stage, becoming a true pioneer in this field. Progress made in aviation and navigation had created a growing need for watches that offered maximum reliability under the toughest conditions.The first IWC Big Pilot’s Replica Watch (Ref. IW431, with Caliber 52 T.S.C.) was supplied to the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) in 1940 in an edition of 1,000 pieces. The “big device,” constructed according to the criteria for an observer’s watch, is the largest wristwatch ever made by IWC, with a case diameter of 55 mm, a height of 16.5 mm, and a weight of 183 grams.

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IWC PILOT’S WRISTWATCH MARK 11 WITH NATO STRAP (1948)

In response to a product requirement from the British government, IWC developed a service watch for pilots of the Royal Air Force (RAF). The technical specifications stipulated by the RAF were very rigid, including a requirement that the movement had to be protected against magnetic fields. Production of the now-legendary IWC Mark 11 Replica, with Caliber 89, started in 1948. In November 1949, the watch was supplied to airborne personnel of the RAF and other Commonwealth nations and remained in service until 1981.

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IWC PILOT’S WATCH CHRONOGRAPH CERAMIC (1994)

Forty-eight years after the legendary Mark 11 was launched, IWC built on its Pilot’s Watch tradition with the launch of the IWC Pilot’s Replica Watch Chronograph (Ref. IW3740). In 1994, IWC launched another Pilot’s Watch Chronograph (Ref. 3705), intended for modern aviation and equipped with a case made from high-tech zirconium oxide ceramic — a material as hard as sapphire and virtually indestructible. Its movement is caliber 7922.

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