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IWC Schaffhausen

The Journal

Return of the Markus Bühler Iconic Watch

Return of the Markus Bühler Iconic Watch
Read Time: 3 min

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product.buyoptions.taxes.shipping.link product.buyoptions.taxes.shipping.link Price includes taxes. Recommended Retail Price. Price excludes taxes. Recommended Retail Price. Recommended Retail Price Available to buy online. Orders can be returned within 30 days free of charge. Pay with credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express), bank wire transfer, Unionpay or Paypal.

 

 

DISCOVER THE BIG PILOT’S WATCH 43 TOURBILLON MARKUS BÜHLER REF. IW329901 AS THE SAVVY WATCHMAKER SPILLS THE BEANS ON ITS DEVELOPMENT SECRETS

“That’s it. It’s over,” Markus Bühler thought as his instructor informed him that the jury for a watch contest was on the verge of disqualifying him back in 2003. The challenge was to creatively display the tension spring within the mainspring barrel. Markus had aimed to depict slow and fast engine interplay with a turbine-like mainspring barrel but faced electrochemical concerns, risking disqualification, as argued by the jury.

 

Markus clarified he used a special liquid for the coating, leading the jury to reconvene, re-evaluate, and ultimately crown him the winner of the competition. IWC promptly decided to manufacture a limited edition of 12 Big Pilot’s Watches Edition “Markus Bühler” Ref. 5003 featuring Markus’ movement along with an additional turbine as the seconds indicator on the dial. The 12 pieces were sold within half an hour, and instantly became a sought-after collector's item.

 

Now, IWC unveils the successor: the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler (Ref. IW329901), with an integrated flying minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock, shaped like an aircraft turbine. Limited to just 51 pieces, it boasts a polished platinum case, glossy black dial, black Cordovan leather strap bearing Markus’ signature printed on the inner side, and the IWC-manufactured 82905 caliber with blackened components visible through the sapphire glass back.

 

The JOURNAL had a chat with Markus Bühler, the likable and unpretentious carpenter-turned-watchmaker-turned-associate-director, about this remarkable new timepiece.

Markus Bühler is IWC’s Associate Director of Watch and Movement Assembly


— Markus Bühler is IWC’s Associate Director of Watch and Movement Assembly

    

WHEN DID YOU REALIZE YOU HAD BECOME A ROCKSTAR IN THE WORLD OF WATCHMAKING?

    

I was at a collectors’ meeting in Hong Kong back in 2018, and someone told me: “Hey, you are very famous over here!” I didn’t believe him because in my opinion, I had just developed this very specific turbine-shaped component. But the moment I realized that this watch had become an “icon” was when I learned about copies of my watch circulating. Ironically, it is an honor for a watchmaker.

    

IW329901 with flying minute tourbillon shaped like an aircraft turbine
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Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler

IW329901

BIG PILOT’S WATCH 43 TOURBILLON MARKUS BÜHLER

Platinum case, Automatic, self-winding. Black dial with luminescence, Strap width 21.0 mm.

Made in Switzerland


— The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler IW329901 features a flying minute tourbillon that is shaped like an aircraft turbine

    

    

FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE

    

WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE DURING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE BIG PILOT’S WATCH 43 TOURBILLON?

    

I was facing two great challenges: The first one was to develop a new, very different watch edition, while still honoring and upholding the design DNA of the original watch. We wanted to create a high-end timepiece featuring a turbine-shaped part as a tourbillon, a platinum case, and a black coated movement.

 

The second challenge was the work on the tourbillon itself, as it is a very weight-sensitive component. If you put too much weight on it, the tourbillon can’t work accurately. A tourbillon has to start and stop eight times per second – it’s a constant breaking and accelerating. If you compare it with a car and a truck, it’s much easier to break and accelerate a car than a truck. So, the weight of the tourbillon is essential here, and everything must be lightweight and as energy-efficient as possible.

    

Our solution was to use the thinnest high-grade titanium possible and replace the regulator with the turbine to reduce weight. So, the turbine now serves two purposes: it functions as both a design element and an indicator for the seconds while holding the hairspring.

    

Minuscule turbine blades are polished by hand and finished to aesthetic perfection


— Each of the twelve minuscule blades is polished by hand and finished to aesthetic perfection

    

The Pellaton winding features ceramic components for an 80-hour power reserve


— The Pellaton winding system is reinforced with ceramic components for an 80-hour power reserve

Can you talk a little bit about the manufacturing of the blades?

    

Absolutely. The turbine is very challenging to produce and it takes a long time to achieve the proper geometry and surface. We had to try out up to twenty different processes to machine the parts and find out which tools would work. After the machining, we had to accurately polish every single of the twelve blades by hand. It’s not easy to polish titanium and create this brilliant effect. Therefore, we relied on our best qualified polishing experts here at IWC. Only two professional surface refiners are able to polish these parts.    

    

The watchmaking world gave me a playground for this curiosity and fascination. Watch movements are so complex, they are little machines.

    

PASSION FOR WATCHMAKING

    

DO YOU OCCASIONALLY STILL ASSEMBLE WATCHES?

    

Sometimes I do. But I also realize that you need constant practice because you easily forget what you have learned a long time ago. For the prototype, I polished the turbine and assembled the tourbillon because I was curious to know if it works. I wanted to ensure feasibility and the highest quality. After all, the watch bears my name.

    

AS THE LEADER OF A 150-STRONG TEAM OF WATCHMAKERS AND SPECIALISTS, WHAT CORE VALUES DO YOU AIM TO INSTILL IN YOUR TEAM?

    

My team is absolutely passionate about their work. I think this is something I care most about because if you have a passionate team, you can go much, much further. With the integration of our in-house movements, we were working day and night during the past two years. My team is so proud to be a part of IWC that it was not so difficult to go the extra mile together.

    

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS?

    

I try to be fair, challenging and open to people.

Plates, bridges and rotor of the IW329901 blackened with a PVD coating


— The plates, bridges and rotor of the IW329901, visible through the sapphire case back, are blackened with a PVD coating

    

Assembling the IWC 82905 calibre with a flying tourbillon


— Precision watchmaking: Assembly of IWC-manufactured 82905 calibre with a flying tourbillon in shape of an aircraft turbine

    

    

LONG-LASTING APPRECIATION

    

WHAT FASCINATES YOU MOST ABOUT WATCHMAKING?

    

My passion for watchmaking started when I realized that objects have a function that goes beyond design. When I was younger, I started taking everything apart to find out about the inside. What’s the principle behind this function? The watchmaking world gave me a playground for this curiosity and fascination. Watch movements are so complex, they are little machines. Every day when I look at a movement, I think: “How crazy that this movement can run for 10 years without maintenance! This is unbelievable.” And this fascination is something I never lost during my career at IWC.

    

WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE PEOPLE TO FEEL WHEN THEY WEAR YOUR LATEST “MARKUS BÜHLER” EDITION?

    

I hope people who buy this watch feel more than just happiness from their purchase. I hope they are happy because the watch will meet their high expectations for many, many years to come. It's easy to create something temporary, something you like in the beginning but that you then lose interest in. Only what you still love after 10 years or more are the right things for you.

Many years ago, I bought an Italian coffee machine. Every day when I make two cappuccinos for my wife and me, I think, “Oh my God, I love this machine!” I think these are the products that have found the right place in your life. And I wish that whoever buys “my” watch will have that same feeling.

     

 

 

 

IWC Schaffhausen