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The Best IWC Watches For Pilots & Everyday People

We round up the IWC timepieces that need to be on your radar.

The Best IWC Watches For Pilots & Everyday People

The world of high-end watches is full of well-respected brands with illustrious histories. IWC (which stands for International Watch Company) is one such brand with a history that’s particularly worth looking into – as well as brand that produces some seriously high-quality watches.

The company was founded in the Swiss town of Schaffhausen in 1868 by an American watchmaker, Florentine Ariosto Jones. Jones wanted to combine Swiss traditional watchmaking knowledge and expertise with modern American manufacturing practices. It was thanks to a chance meeting with Johann Heinrich Moser – who not only supported Jones’ vision but had built his own hydropower plant in Schaffhausen – that Jones found the vital element needed to power the high-tech equipment he needed to use in order to produce his watches. Jones then moved to a new factory, still on the Rhine river, to accommodate the growing number of staff.

The brand started out making pocket watches, before expanding into wristwatches for men and women. During WWII, IWC made pilot’s observation watches, which they supplied to both Allied and Axis air forces.

These days, IWC is known for their innovative use of titanium and ceramics, but it wasn’t until 1974 when a huge rise in gold prices and a major drop in the value of the Swiss Franc against the US Dollar, that forced IWC to switch to using titanium as a material – a first in watchmaking – a practice it still continues to this day. Today, IWC makes a conscious effort to be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible and was voted number one in a group of 15 Swiss-based watch manufacturers for its environmental rating.

IWC remains one of the most forward-thinking and desirable luxury watchmakers on the planet, thanks to their high level of craftsmanship, distinctive design and long history.

We’ve rounded up 11 of our favourite pieces to help you buy the perfect men’s IWC watch.

Big Pilot’s Watch 43

IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43 (ref. IW329301)

Reference Number: IW329301
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Price: AU$12,900

First introduced in 2022 and modelled after the observation watches IWC produced for multiple air forces during WWII, the Big Pilot is IWC’s most famous watch and a bona fide horological icon. In 2021, IWC overhauled the popular watch, introducing a new 43mm case size as well as the new EasX-CHANGE strap system, which enables wearers to quickly and easily change the strap and adapt the watch swiftly to different surroundings or activities. Powered by the 60-hour power reserve IWC calibre 82100 movement, it also boasts a sapphire crystal caseback and a distinctive conical crown, which is designed in such a way so that it is easy to use while wearing gloves.

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Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire

IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire (ref. IW326801)

Reference Number: IW326801
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Price: AU$7,750

This Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire pays homage to the Pilot’s Watch Mark 11 released in 1948. That model essentially paved the way for how all pilot’s watches should look, and this modern-day Automatic Spitfire remains true to the design philosophy of a highly legible dial. Despite its historic roots and aesthetic, there’s nothing historic about the internal components, as this is the first watch to use IWC’s in-house 32110 calibre, which has a power reserve of three days. Add to that an inner iron-made case to protect it from magnetic interference and a green NATO strap that gives it oodles of military appeal.

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Portugieser Automatic 40

IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Automatic 40 (ref. IW358306)

Reference Number: IW358306
Case Material: 18ct 5N Red Gold
Price: AU$24,900

IWC created the Portugieser family in response to the request of two Portuguese merchants who asked IWC to make them a large and precise wristwatch in the 1930s. They wanted it to meet nautical chronometer standards, but for it to also be oversized, which meant IWC had to resort to using a pocket watch movement. The Portugieser was born, and while it may be smaller than some of IWC’s other models at 40mm, its thin bezel accentuates its size. Because of its nautical-led design, it features feuille hands, a railway track chapter ring for precise time reading and for this particular model, minutes and seconds chronograph dials.

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Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Woodland”

IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Woodland” (ref. IW389106)

Reference Number: IW389106
Case Material: Green Ceramic
Price: AU$15,900

One of the highlight releases of Watches & Wonders 2022, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Woodland” might be a bit of a mouthful but it’s perhaps the best green watch ever made. Not only is the Woodland’s case made out of 100% dark green ceramic, but its dial is also dark green, while its numerals and hour markers are printed in a lighter hue of green. It also has a matching green textile/rubber strap, whilst other hardware elements such as the chrono pushers, crown and back case are made out of matte black Ceratanium, IWC’s signature scratch-resistant, ultra-tough titanium/ceramic composite.

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Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe”

IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe” (ref. IW389105)

Reference Number: IW389105
Case Material: White Ceramic
Price: AU$15,900

Alongside the Woodland, IWC also released the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe”, which features a stark white ceramic case, matching strap, a black dial and steel hardware. Why ‘TOP GUN’, you ask? Well, IWC’s TOP GUN watches are produced in collaboration with the United States Navy’s Fighter Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN. It’s this school that inspired the famous Tom Cruise film of the same name. TOPGUN’s job is all about staying ahead of the competition, and appropriately, the TOP GUN collection is home to IWC’s most innovative watches.

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Portofino Chronograph

IWC Schaffhausen Portofino Chronograph (ref. IW391030)

Reference Number: IW391030
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Price: AU$10,500

And now for avery different style of chronograph… Named after the small Italian fishing village, IWC launched the Portofino in 1984, as a “pocket-watch-style wristwatch”. A dress watch through and through, the Portofino replaces Arabic numerals found on watches such as its Pilot family and replaces them with Roman numerals. The chronograph version uses IWC’s self-winding 75320 calibre with a 44-hour power reserve, and completing the luxurious and elegant look is a steel Milanese bracelet.

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Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium

IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium (ref. IW371815)

Reference Number: IW371815
Case Material: Ceratanium
Price: AU$21,500

This Pilot’s Watch makes use of IWC’s proprietary Ceratanium material, which combines the lightness and rigidity of titanium with the wear-free and scratch-resistant properties of ceramic. One of the byproducts of the marriage is a matte black colour, which IWC has used not only for the case but for the push-buttons and pin buckle too. An additional split-seconds hand is what makes this a double chronograph, which allows the wearer to record intermediate times, or two separate actions simultaneously.

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Pilot’s Watch Timezoner TOP GUN Ceratanium

IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Timezoner TOP GUN Ceratanium (ref. IW395505)

Reference Number: IW395505
Case Material: Ceratanium
Price: AU$26,500

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner TOP GUN Ceratanium is easily one of the most unique and interesting luxury timepieces on the planet. Also made out of Ceratanium, its Timezoner function is a radical take on the world timer formula. It works like this: first, push down on the bezel, rotate it to your home time zone, and set the time and date using the crown as per normal. Then, when you’re off travelling and you arrive in a new time zone, rotate the bezel to the corresponding city, and the time will adjust accordingly. It’s a really clever way of telling the time in multiple time zones without having to mess around with the crown and constantly setting the time.

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Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Darwin”

IWC Schaffhausen Aquatimer Chronograph Edition “Expedition Charles Darwin” (ref. IW379503)

Reference Number: IW379503
Case Material: Bronze
Price: AU$16,000

IWC made a deliberate design move when choosing the bronze material for this Aquatimer’s case, as pays homage to the HMS Beagle, the ship that Charles Darwin navigated to the Galapagos Islands. It’s also a material that patinas over time – an oxidised layer that naturally forms as a result of exposure to air, sun, salt and other pollutants – so each individual model will develop its own unique look. IWC has designed this version to be able to accompany you on various expeditions too, as it features a SafeDive ‘compressor’ system (whereby an outer bezel which rotates an inner bezel) as well as a water-resistant rating of 300 metres.

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Da Vinci Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph

IWC Schaffhausen Da Vinci Tourbillon Rétrograde Chronograph (ref. IW393101)

Reference Number: IW393101
Case Material: 18ct 5N Red Gold
Price: AU$158,000

The Da Vinci collection is home to some of IWC’s most classical and ornate watches, and this model is among the collection’s most ornate. A large tourbillon takes pride of place at 6 o’clock, with a chronograph subdial at 12 o’clock and a retrograde date display at 9 o’clock. This display, which stretches along a gentle arc on the left-hand side of the dial, has a hand that jumps back automatically to the 1st of the month after the 31st of the previous month. This large red gold piece is a real statement.

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Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph

IWC Schaffhausen Portugieser Yacht Club Chronograph (ref. IW390507)

Reference Number: IW390507
Case Material: Stainless Steel
Price: AU$17,700

A sportier take on the Portugieser, there are four variations of the Yacht Club Chronograph (we really love the 18ct gold model) but this stainless steel and blue dial version is still incredibly alluring and more accessible thanks to its more affordable price tag. It makes use of IWC’s 89361 movement, which has a 68-hour power reserve and a flyback function, meaning you don’t need to stop the chronograph before resetting it. You can also use it to measure short and long stop times thanks to a quarter-second scale and an analogue sub-dial, respectively, while its luminescent hands and indices make their only appearance in the Portugieser family. To further enforce its sporting credentials, the Yacht Club Chronograph swaps out a leather strap for a rubberised version.

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