The Journal spoke with IWC Creative Director Christian Knoop about the new IWC Big Pilot's Watch Constant Force Tourbillon “IWC Racing” (Ref. IW590501)
Its movement is the pinnacle of watchmaking and can be assembled only by the most experienced watchmakers. Designers and engineers equally have immense respect for its high complexity. The Constant Force Tourbillon is now offered as an “IWC Racing” edition in the Big Pilot’s Watch featuring a matte black Ceratanium® case and a fully blacked-out caliber 94800. The Journal spoke with IWC Creative Director Christian Knoop about the limited-edition timepiece.
— IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant Force Tourbillon “IWC Racing”
How would you describe the Big Pilot’s Watch Constant Force Tourbillon “IWC Racing”?
It is a bold, powerful, and adrenaline-charged timepiece that beautifully combines ultimate precision on the inside with a dramatic appearance on the outside. Similar to creating a sports car, it is the result of rational engineering of a super-machine that tries to get everything out of the last drop of petroleum – wrapped in a breathtaking exterior design. An emotional, bold, bullish, and dramatic statement on the wrist and on the road.
You designed a Big Pilot’s Watch that is dedicated to the world of racing. How do these two worlds fit together?
Our Pilot’s Watches are deeply rooted in IWC’s legacy. The world of racing beautifully extends into the realm of the Pilot’s Watches and what they stand for: adrenaline, adventure, technology, high-performance technology, and a fervent pioneering spirit. Both the pilot in an aircraft’s cockpit and the driver in a racecar share a fascination for speed and performance. It’s the essence of what it means to be a pilot.
This link between the motorsport universe and our Pilot’s Watches collection has been the theme for many editions in the recent past. We have launched vintage inspired chronographs and special edition watches dedicated to legendary car types, famous drivers, as well as to our partnerships with Mercedes-AMG and the Goodwood Members’ Meetings. With that in mind, we want to continue covering the aspects of performance motorsports where we create timepieces that form almost the equivalent to a Formula 1 racing car.
Which parallels can you draw between designing a high-performance car and designing a luxury watch?
You have to consider two factors: the performance engineering aspect and the form aspect. As for the performance engineering aspect, you need to keep in mind the use of specific strong materials, such as steel, aluminum, titanium, carbon, or specific high-performance alloys that are especially made to resist high temperature and high stress. By applying the so-called “finite element analysis”, you determine the perfect use and wear and tear of a material. We use the same technology in design and movement engineering in order to identify and improve the most stressed parts or areas in a component or watch part.
As for the form aspect: A car is a very emotional product – designed not only to be fast on the road, but also to speak to you in its overall appearance, form language and aesthetics which transports the idea of speed and performance.
A watch is very similar in that regard: It transports a certain message of the inner values and character of the wearer.
Which design features are most reminiscent of the world of racing?
On the outer dial ring, for example, we designed a ring-shaped structure to represent the air intakes of a high-performance engine. They tie in beautifully with the 3D numerals and hour markers. We also looked at various models from our partner AMG and took inspiration from the special finishing of performance car parts, such as the engine, suspension, structure, gear box, and breaks. Some components, such as the break-calipers, are made of elaborate high-performance materials with dark color codes and golden accents. Hence, we opted for the matte black Ceratanium® for the watch case and injected some yellow-golden accents on the strap and the dial, highlighting the tourbillon as the energy center.
It’s the first Big Pilot’s Watch in Ceratanium®. What challenges did you face when designing a watch made of this new material?
Ceratanium® is such a high-spec material and lends itself perfectly for such high-end sporty piece. The fact that the case parts are made of Ceratanium® and are not just painted or coated in black shows our passion for detail and reflects the brand’s legacy as material innovator. You can feel the metallic texture behind it.
Still, the use of Ceratanium® has its own challenges when it comes to large surfaces like the case ring. It is a high-performance titanium alloy that has to go through a complex casting and forging process. To receive an entirely black and homogeneous surface for a huge case like the Big Pilot’s Watch it requires very high material homogeneity after the forging process.
To accomplish this distinctive look remains one of the biggest challenges – besides the complex machining and finishing of this ultra-tough material. Nevertheless, we kept trying and pushing to finally make it happen for this very special piece.
For whom did you design this watch?
Most likely for customers that have a shared passion for style, technology, and sports cars such as from our partner Mercedes AMG. We have designed a watch that takes the wearer to the ultimate level in terms of movement performance and stylistic refinement. The Big Pilot’s Watch Constant Force Tourbillon is evidence of where we can take the recognizable design codes of the Big Pilot’s Watch – which is one of the most extreme and exclusive designs that we have done over the last twenty years.
It proves how powerful the Big Pilot’s Watch design codes are, and how we succeeded in combining the past with the vision of the future.
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