Category Archives: IWC Big Pilot’s Replica Watch

IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Replica Watch

With SIHH 2017 only a few short days away, and with many brands almost assured to release at least a few historically inspired new watches, I have been gearing up by reviewing some of the most significant releases we have seen since last year’s show. Of these, I want to bring us back to IWC’s revamped Pilot’s Watch collection and, more specifically, the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Replica Watches.

Replica IWC

Replica IWC

As has become customary of IWC at SIHH, the brand each year revamps one of its six broad collections, with last year’s focus being the Pilot’s Watch series. The revisit to the series saw a host of updates and new watches, from the new Mark XVIII, to a new world-timer chronograph, to a 36-mm time-only piece, to 48-mm and 55-mm versions of the historically inspired Big Pilot Heritage Replica Watches. This year, IWC will revisit its Da Vinci series; more details on that will surely be forthcoming.

IWC Replica Watches

IWC Replica Watches

The Big Pilot series is based upon the B-Uhr–style aviation watch developed during World War II for the German Air Force, the Luftwaffe. After their initial development, undertaken by a number of Swiss and German manufacturers, these IWC Replica began to heavily influence military and aviation timepieces —encouraging larger case sizes, a more intense focus on legibility, and the use of soft iron inner cases to resist the effects of magnetic fields. Years after the fall of the Axis Powers, this style of watch has remained a very popular design, especially the ones in IWC’s lineup, and as such the brand has once again returned to the original piece to develop a more historically-oriented timekeeper.

Cheap IWC Replica

Cheap IWC Replica

The Cheap Replica Watches is available in both 48-mm and 55-mm titanium-cased variations, with very little aesthetic distinctions between the two other than size. Using a B-Uhr-style case with long lugs and a large diamond crown, the watch features a matte black dial with faux-patina numerals and accents. Within the outer minute ring is the iconic triangle at the 12 o’clock mark, printed Roman numerals for most of the hour marks, and a smaller subdial for the running seconds towards the 6 o’clock position. Note here that the 48-mm variation also hosts a date indicator within this subdial, while the 55-mm variant does not. The hands of the watch are typical of pilots’ watches, but IWC Replica Watches works to add a bit more historical flair to them by using a vintage-style blue steel for their coloring. Powering the 48-mm watch is the manually-wound, IWC-manufactured Caliber 59215, which stores an eight-day power reserve and can be observed through a small window on the solid caseback. The 55-mm piece uses the Cheap IWC Replica, with a 46-hour power reserve. The larger of the two is priced at $14,800 and was produced in a limited edition of 100 pieces; the 48-mm piece is priced at $13,400 in a limited edition of 1,000 pieces.

Replica Watches

Replica Watches

Both pieces, in comparison to their vintage predecessors, also show some pretty distinct changes. Most notable are the finishing practices not seen in the past, but less obvious changes involve the case material and seconds subdial. While seconds subdials were a popular design element on vintage pieces as a whole during this period, the feature did not appear on the B-Uhr style watch, making this design element “vintage-reminiscent,” but not necessarily “vintage-derived.” Even more subtly, the choice to use titanium instead of steel is a major change from the Big Pilots of the past. Whether this was done to reduce the massive weight the vintage pieces tended to have, or just to add an extra layer of modern luxury, it is a significant deviation from the heritage of the series.
Overall, Replica IWC work in creating vintage-inspired pieces — even with a few changes and relatively higher prices compared to other B-Uhr style watches — is for the best. The brand is a leader in horology, and has often been a trend-setter with its designs. Perhaps other brands with an aviation history will be inspired to follow suit once again in their historically inspired modern pieces.

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.