IWC’s Big Pilot Update Is An Exciting New Chapter For The Iconic Watch

A game changer.

IWC’s Big Pilot Update Is An Exciting New Chapter For The Iconic Watch

IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot's Watch 43, black dial, black calfskin strap / Photo: DMARGE

The following article was produced in partnership with IWC Schaffhausen.

In only a short few decades, the IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch has cemented itself as one of the most iconic watch designs ever made.

First re-introduced back in 2002 and informed by IWC’s long history of producing instrument watches, the Big Pilot is instantly recognisable: the utilitarian, ultra-legible dial, the signature large conical crown and, unsurprisingly, its rather large size… There’s no mistaking a Big Pilot.

When you’ve got such a classic on your hands, there’s a strong temptation to just rest on your laurels. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, right? Well, IWC haven’t done that. 2021 has seen the enterprising Swiss watchmaker introduce a radical and hotly anticipated update to the Big Pilot that’s already caused a stir among watch aficionados.

Meet the IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43: an authentic interpretation of the iconic design that maintains everything you know and love about the Big Pilot while introducing a few key innovations many fans have been crying out for.

As the name implies, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is 3mm smaller than the classic Big Pilot – still not small by any means, but a much more accessible size for people with smaller wrists or simply for those looking for a more subtle watch diameter. This is a real game-changer and one that makes a hell of a lot of sense in 2021.

Not only has the Big Pilot shrunk a little, but its weight-loss regimen has also seen its date window and power reserve disappear, too, making it a time-only timepiece. This also allows the exceptional finishing of its dark blue and black dials to really ‘pop’. As IWC Creative Director Christian Knoop relates:

“With the Big Pilot’s Watch 43, we have returned to the extreme purity of the original observation watch designed more than 80 years ago and created a simple three-hand watch with no other elements on the dial. Despite its reduced size, the 43-millimetre case combines a bold look with great wearing comfort.”

But the case size isn’t the only exciting thing about the Big Pilot’s Watch 43. The watch now features IWC’s exceptional 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.

For example, while the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 comes with either the Big Pilot’s famous four-rivet leather strap or a comfortable stainless steel bracelet as standard, the EasX-CHANGE system makes it a doddle to swap in a rubber strap if you were, say, going for a swim – something you can do with added confidence, too, seeing as a revised case construction has bumped the Big Pilot’s Watch 43’s water resistance up to 100m.

That revised case construction has also opened up the back of the watch, allowing the impeccably finished, 60 hour power reserve IWC Calibre 82100 movement to be shown off behind a hardy sapphire crystal back. Because everyone likes to look at the mesmerising mechanics of a watch movement.

That’s really the thesis of the Big Pilot’s Watch 43: it’s a Big Pilot for everyone. People who’ve been intimidated by the large size of the watch will find the smaller size exciting and intriguing, while long-time fans of the brand will appreciate its purity and functionality.

All in all, it’s one of the most exciting chapters in the IWC Big Pilot story yet – and one we’d like to keep reading, over and over again…

Discover the IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s Watch 43 collection here.