IWC Schaffhausen’s TOP GUN Pilot’s Watches are dedicated to the legendary Navy Fighter Weapons School program, in which the US Navy trains the very best pilots in flying and tactical skills. Made of highly robust and hard-wearing materials, these precise aviation instruments are designed to withstand even the extreme G-forces a fighter jet pilot can be subjected to in the cockpit.
IWC Schaffhausen manufactured its first Pilot’s Watch more than 80 years ago. Since then, Swiss watchmaking specialist has accumulated extensive know-how in designing and engineering mission-critical instrument watches that are tailored to the needs of aviators. The TOP GUN watches, which IWC has been making as an official licensee of the US Navy since 2007, take their name from the legendary Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). They represent the tactical and performance side of IWC’s Pilot’s Watches, while at the same time underscoring the company’s role as a pioneer and innovator in the area of advanced case materials.
EXTREMELY RESISTANT MATERIALS SUCH AS TITANIUM AND CERAMIC
Nowhere in the field of aviation are the requirements as rigorous as in Naval Aviation. Spot landings at night on an aircraft carrier are among the most challenging maneuvers of all. During dogfights, tight turns or in vertical maneuvers with supersonic jets like an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, maximum acceleration forces are exerted on the pilots and their aircraft. The constant day and night operations on an aircraft carrier likewise take a toll on man and material. This is why TOP GUN watches are engineered from highly robust and resilient materials such as titanium and ceramics to withstand the extreme strain fighter jet pilots can experience in the cockpit.
The high-tech ceramic used in watch cases is characterized by extremely pure raw materials and sophisticated production processes. The source materials are polycrystalline powders, which are mixed with several auxiliary materials to a homogenous mass, shaped and finally sintered at high temperatures in an oven.
With a Vickers rating second only to that of diamonds, ceramic ranks among the hardest substances on earth. Because of its lightness, hardness and scratch-resistance, the material is ideally suited for everyday use in the restricted space of a jet cockpit. The matte black color ensures that pilots are not distracted by the watch reflecting sunlight. Titanium and ceramic are also highly resistant to corrosion, making them ideal for long-lasting missions on an aircraft carrier in the humid, salty sea air.
CERATANIUM ® COMBINES THE ADVANTAGES OF TITANIUM AND CERAMIC
The most recent innovation from Schaffhausen is Ceratanium®. This ground-breaking new material is based on a special titanium alloy. After the components of the case are milled, turned and drilled, they are heated in an oven. During this furnace process, oxygen diffuses into the material, and a phase transition occurs, with the surface then assuming properties which are similar to those of ceramic. Ceratanium® is both light and robust like titanium and also hard and scratch-resistant like ceramic. Unlike more conventional coatings, the surface is inseparably bonded with the material and cannot flake off if the watch is knocked against another object. Thanks to this new material, all components of the watch case can be manufactured in a durable jet-black finish for the first time.
Please see below for a selection of our TOP GUN watches.
Pilot’s watch Chronograph TOP GUN edition “SFTI”
In 2018, IWC launched the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor”, which is exclusively available to graduates of the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). With the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “SFTI”, the Manufacture now follows up with a civilian version of this highly acclaimed timepiece. The chronograph is limited to 1500 pieces and housed in a case made of black zirconium oxide ceramic, one of the hardest substances on earth. The case back and the pushers are made of Ceratanium®. The tactical look is completed by the black dial and black hands, which are coated with luminescent material. Red colour accents are added by the small second’s hand at “6 o’clock” and the tail of the chronograph seconds hand, which takes the form of a Navy jet. The IWC-manufactured 69380 calibre ensures precise timekeeping and the measurement of stopwatch times of up to 12 hours. Another function is a date and weekday display. This sporty timepiece with a case diameter of 44 millimetres is fitted with a green textile strap.
Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium (Ref. IW371815)
The first IWC pilot’s watch made of Ceratanium® features a black dial, black hands and a black rubber strap. The dial and the hands are coated using grey luminescent material, which is why the watch has a distinctive monochrome look during the day but still offers full luminescent functionality at night. The 79420 calibre drives the double chronograph function with a splitseconds mechanism, making it possible to measure two short time intervals simultaneously.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert” (Ref. IW389103)
The first IWC pilot’s watch in a sand-colored ceramic case was inspired by the Mojave Desert, which is home to the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the largest land area of the US Navy. The color tone also perfectly matches some of the flight suits worn by the TOPGUN adversary pilots. It is the result of a combination of zirconium oxide with other metallic oxides. This chronograph is driven by the IWC-manufactured 69380 calibre.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN (Ref. IW389101)
The case of this chronograph is made of matte black zirconium oxide ceramic. Engineering ceramics with similar properties are also used for capacitors, in aircraft or rocket engines, and for various components of high-performance engines. The IWC-manufactured 69380 calibre ensures the accurate display and measurement of time.
Pilot’s Watch Automatic TOP GUN (Ref. IW326901)
This three-hand watch with a matte black zirconium oxide ceramic case boasts a unique minimalist design. It is powered by the IWC-manufactured 32110 calibre, a robust automatic movement with a high power reserve of 72 hours.
In 2018, IWC added two special pieces to the collection in honour of the US Navy Naval Aviation community. These watches cannot be bought by the public and are only available for TOPGUN graduates.
Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” (Ref. IW324705)
The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII embodies all the design elements and technical functionality of a larger pilot’s watch in a compact 40-millimeter case. The case back is made from automotive titanium 5N, which is durable, light, and skin-friendly. It features an individual engraving of the owner’s name and class. The Navy Fighter Weapons School patch can be found at 9 o’clock.
Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” (Ref. IW389004)
Powered by the IWC-manufactured 89361 calibre movement, this chronograph displays the hours and minutes combined in a totalizer at 12 o’clock. Thanks to the flyback function, a single depression of the titanium pusher at 4 o’clock, while the chronograph is running, will send the minutes and seconds hands back to zero and immediately start a new timing. The iconic patch of the Navy Fighter Weapons School can be found at 9 o’clock.
In 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Navy Fighter Weapons School, IWC created a special timepiece in honor of TOPGUN instructors. This watch, too, cannot be bought by the public.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “TOP GUN 50th Anniversary” (Ref. IW387813)
This chronograph was developed with the TOPGUN instructors based in Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada. It features a blue dial and black hands coated with luminescent material. It also features the Navy Fighter Weapons School logo at 9 o’clock, as well as an individual engraving of each owner’s name and class on the case back. This model also features distinct color accents in baby blue, an iconic color worn only by TOPGUN instructors at NAS Fallon.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “TOP GUN 50th Anniversary”
IWC is now the only watch brand to be officially licensed to work on watches for the entire US Navy and Marine Corps, including TOPGUN, Blue Angels and the 247 active and 100 inactive squadrons. All IWC squadron watches are available exclusively to current and former members of the respective squadron and feature an individual engraving of the owner’s name and call sign.
Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Diamondbacks”
Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Diamondbacks” (Ref. IW327018)
This special edition Mark XVIII was created in collaboration with squadron members of the “D-backs”. The black dial with a red date indication also features the “Diamondbacks” patch at 9 o’clock. The number 102 refers to the official denomination “Strike Fighter Squadron 102 (VFA-102)”. The squadron’s F/A-18F Super Hornet with its distinguishing diamonds stripes is engraved on the case back.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Royal Maces” (Ref. IW389011)
This chronograph has a case made of black ceramic and is fitted with a black and yellow textile strap. It features the “Maces” patch at 9 o’clock and a yellow date indication. Powered by the IWC-manufactured 89361 movement, the chronograph also has a flyback function. On the titanium case back, there is an engraving of the squadron’s F/A-18E Super Hornet, as well as the official denomination “VFA-27”.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Royal Maces”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Fighting Checkmates”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Fighting Checkmates” (Ref. IW389012)
Powered by the IWC-manufactured 89361 calibre, this chronograph in black ceramic is designed in the historic color code of the “Checkmates” with blue and red, and features the “Brutus” patch on the dial. The date window displays the odd days in blue and the even days in red. On the titanium case back, there is an engraving of the squadron’s F/A-18E Super Hornet over a chessboard pattern.
Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Bats Legacy” (Ref. IW327024)
This special edition of the Mark XVIII marks the first IWC military watch created in collaboration with a squadron from the US Marine Corps. Featuring the squadron’s “Bats” patch on the dial at 9 o’clock, it also has a yellow date display. The squadron’s F/A-18D Legacy jet is engraved on the case back. The official denomination VMFA – AW refers to “all-weather” strike fighter squadron.
Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Bats Legacy”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Eagles”
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Eagles” (Ref. IW389015)
This special edition Pilot’s Watch Chronograph is powered by the IWC-manufactured 89361 calibre and has a case made of black ceramic. It features the yellow and white “Eagles” patch at 9 o’clock. Additional accents of yellow are added by the small second hand and the date indication. The squadron’s F/A-18E Super Hornet is engraved on the case back.
PROVEN IWC TECHNOLOGY FOR PILOT WATCHES
All models are equipped with proven IWC technology for aviator watches. The movement is enclosed in an inner cage made of a highly conductive soft iron alloy. It consists of the bottom plate, the movement holder ring, and the dial. Similar to a Faraday cage, it conducts magnetism around the movement and ensures that it does not reach the components inside. IWC had developed this innovative feature back in 1948 for the Mark 11, a navigation watch commissioned by the British Royal Air Force. The soft iron inner cage effectively protects the movement from magnetic fields with a strength of up to 80,000 amperes per hour. Another feature is the specially secured front glass. It cannot detach from its place even if there is a sudden drop in cabin pressure in the cockpit.
Selected For You
Time flies: the IWC Top Gun series
Time Flies: a cruise through the TOP GUN line history. IWC Museum Curator David Seyffer & Justin Hast uncover the history of the IWC Top Gun Watch family.
IWC celebrates the Blue Angels® with a special edition Pilot’s Watch
The Journal & IWC celebrate aerobatic aviation history with the "Blue Angels®" Pilot’s Watch. Learn more below.
A Day in the Life - David Coulthard
Racing legend David Coulthard takes the Journal through his day. Learn more below.