SETTING STANDARDS FOR AVIATOR WATCHES

 

Since 1936, IWC has been handcrafting aviator watches to meet the highest demands of pilots. Incredibly robust, anti-magnetic, resistant to temperature fluctuations, and beautiful to behold, IWC Pilot’s Watches introduced the cockpit-instrument look to the classic aviator watch. Over the course of several decades, these predominantly men’s watches made in Schaffhausen have defined the standard to which all other luxury aviator watches aspire to. Today, they enjoy global renown as precise timepieces built to exacting standards with outstanding technology. You don’t have to be a pilot to appreciate an aviator watch, but as any pilot will tell you, IWC  has been setting the standards for aviator watches for decades.

 

One of IWC's first aviator watches, the "Special watch for pilots" from 1936

History on the horizon

 

Soon after mankind took to the skies, timekeeping became a vital part of keeping aviators safe and on course. In 1936, IWC's owner Ernst Jakob Homberger built an aviator watch for his two sons who had just earned their pilot's licenses. Soon after, IWC manufactured its first "Special Watch for Pilots”. As an extremely shock-resistant, anti-magnetic navigation instrument, it could stand up to the vibrations, temperature fluctuations, and existing magnetic fields in the cockpit. This iconic timepiece established IWC's reputation for manufacturing robust and functional aviator watches. 1940 saw the release of the Beobachtungsuhr, or B-Uhr, an oversized wristwatch built specifically for the navigator's wrist. It would become the founding father of today's Big Pilot's Watch. Less than a decade later, IWC created the Mark 11, engineered for professional pilots and navigators in the Royal Air Force. It remained in service into the 1980s and forged the design language seen throughout the line of IWC Pilot's Watches.

True heritage

 

The technologies that set IWC timepieces apart aren't there by chance – they are the result of a decade-long effort to deliver aviator watches that stand up to the rigors of the cockpit. The design language seen on every new IWC Pilot's Watch was first modeled after cockpit instruments, which were built for ultimate clarity – because up there, mistakes have real consequences. And from the striking oversized conical crown of the Big Pilot, designed to remain accessible even while wearing thick pilot's gloves, to the soft iron inner cases that block magnetic fields as introduced with the Mark 11, IWC's aviator watches have stayed true to their heritage.

One of IWC's first aviator watches, the Big Pilot's Watch Cal. 52
Aviator watch based on an icon: the IWC Mark XVIII Edition "Tribute to Mark XI"

Icons at altitude

 

Aviator watches by IWC have always been infused with mankind's dream of flying. Each is special in its own way, and some have been elevated to icon status. The Mark Series took off back in 1948 with the Mark 11, and the tradition of rugged elegance continues today with the various references of the Mark XVIII (Ref. 3270, Ref. IW324702). As ever, everything about it has been reduced to the essentials, providing a beautiful – and beautifully pure – experience.

 

The Pilot's Watch UTC was introduced in 1998, and enabled the wearer to change the hour and date to match local time with a simple twist of the crown. The Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph was the first double chronograph from IWC. It debuted in 1992, and has been one of the most sought-after vintage IWCs ever since. The design and functionality also was an obvious inspiration for the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition “Antoine de Saint Exupéry” (Ref. IW371808) of the current collection.

 

The Big Pilot's Watch harkens back to the oversized B-Uhr. At 46.2mm it has real presence and goes perfectly with a suit and tie - or a flight suit. Current references include the Big Pilot’s Watch featuring various special editions (Ref. 5009), the Big Pilot’s Watch Heritage (Ref. IW501004 and -05) and Heritage 48 (Ref. IW510301), the special editions of the Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar (Ref. 5027), the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition “Antoine de Saint-Exupéry” (Ref. IW503801), and the Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun (Ref. IW502001).

 

Learn more about luxury aviator watches made in Schaffhausen and discover the full collection.