IWC is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious brands on the aviator's watches segment. Over the years, the “Flieger” scale has given birth to several emblematic models such as the Mark XI or the Doppelchronograph.
On the catalogue for now nearly 10 years, the Big Pilot is the highlight model, with high level dimensions and movement.
A watch with an authentic design
The first word that comes off the top of your head when seeing the Big Pilot is “authenticity”.
The design is directly inherited from the aviators' watch of the Second World War.
No exotic material nor gadget functionalities: a Big Pilot seems to be there only to give the time of the next raid or to control a flight schedule at 20000 feet.
Once more, in IWC, the finishing of the casing is outstanding, with an alternation of polished/brushed surfaces and sharp angles.
The bulb crown with the acronym “Probus Scafusia” is of a big diameter and is itself worth the trip.
All the IWC aviators' watches being thought to be really used on flight – and not only inside the lounges' bars of the business class, the sapphire is resistant to the depressurizations (thanks to a special fixing) and the movement is protected from the magnetic fields by a soft iron cage.
A high quality range manufactured movement
The movement is the caliber 51111, the highest quality of the IWC caliber without complications.
Endowed with a power reserve of 7 days, it owns the Pellaton assemble system that is common to all the IWC and its big diameter ensures it an unfailing reliability.
The dial is very uncluttered. Nothing comes to disturb the reading of the essential information: hours, minutes, power reserve, and, the sole concession for a civilian use is the date.
The diurnal readability is perfect.
A watch that needs to be tried before buying it
Exclusive in its manufacture, the Big Pilot is also unique when wearing it: its large dial opening and its enough long lugs make it seems larger than it already is (46,2mm).
It tightly suits a 17cm wrist and its size can puzzle an unwarned public.
Hence, it is a watch that absolutely has to be tried before considering buying it, because its comfort can quickly become problematic: the matt crocodile skin strap, though visually very pleasant, is extremely rigid and can irritate the wrist.
As well as for the crown, the very prominent crown can be disturbing if the upper part of the wrist is sensitive to abrasions...
Of a flawless manufacture and endowed with a never out of fashion charm, the Big Pilot is really an outstanding watch.
It is an extreme piece which quality will fulfill the amateurs ready to bear its radicalism.
The fact remains that with a price over 11000€, it is better to have a real love at first sight because it is still a watch difficult to wear daily.
For those who are seduced by the design of the Big Pilot but the price and the diameter hold back, the IWC or the Mark XVI offer, for instance, even if the movement is not comparable, a very close design with a more reasonable diameter and price (39mm and less than 3000€)
- quality of the manufacture
- authenticity and temperament
- only for strong wrists
- journalist's wrist size = 17 cm