One of the biggest pieces of watch news this year was IWC Schaffhausen’s refresh of their flagship Big Pilot’s Watch line, which saw the iconic timepiece slim down from a case size of 46mm to 43mm – still pretty big, but not quite as big as before. A Not So Big Pilot.
This was a masterstroke from IWC. 46mm can be a prohibitively big case size for many watch lovers. 43mm is still hefty, but much more accessible for people with smaller wrists or simply for those looking for a more subtle watch diameter. On top of the weight loss regimen, the Big Pilot saw its date window and power reserve disappear, too, making it a time-only timepiece. What we’re left with is a timepiece that has truly distilled the essence of the Big Pilot: nothing superfluous; all action; the purest Big Pilot yet.
However, despite this main-line Big Pilot update, most of the limited and special edition Big Pilots that have been released this year have manifested in that 46mm case size. Fair enough: you can’t expect IWC to throw out all their movements at once. But watch fans need not wait any longer: IWC has finally crafted two new special Spitfire editions with the new 43mm Big Pilot, and they’re two very interesting, very mil-spec watches.
First, we have the ref. IW329701, which is crafted from titanium and features a rather unique dial design inspired by historical military observation watches, with 5-minute increment minute counters given pride of place over smaller hour markers. There aren’t too many Big Pilots made out of the lightweight, tough metal – let alone any with such a cool dial design – so we anticipate this one will quickly become a fan favourite.
We also have the ref. IW329702, which features a bronze case and crown as well as a titanium case back. Alongside copper, the bronze used by IWC also contains aluminium and iron, which makes the alloy around 50% harder than standard bronze. Bronze watches are all the rage right now: unlike other metals, bronze will rather quickly develop a unique patina over time, meaning every ref. IW329702 will be one-of-a-kind.
Both watches utilise IWC’s 82100 in-house calibre and feature a Supermarine Spitfire motif engraved on their casebacks, paying homage to the legendary British WWII fighter that gives the collection its name. It’s a reminder that these two timepieces are indeed rugged field watches, with the performance characteristics you’d expect.
Find out more about the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire ref. IW329701 and ref. IW329702 at IWC’s online boutique here.