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Pre-SIHH 2016: IWC - Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 and 48

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2016 will be the year of Pilot Watches for IWC. The Schaffhausen brand has prepared several novelties that will be presented during the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (Geneva, 18-22 January 2016).

The first models to be unveiled are the the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (ref. IW510401) and the smaller brother Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 (ref. IW510301).

With a case diameter of 55 mm, the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 follows on directly from the Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C.) that was introduced in 1940. This huge model, available in a limited edition of just 100 watches exclusively from selected IWC boutiques all over the world, is aimed primarily at collectors and die-hard fans of pilot’s watches.

Produced in 1,000 pieces and featuring a practical date display, the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 is a smaller alternative although still imposing on the wrist with its diameter of 48 mm.

The two models do not differ only for their size but also for their movements.

The Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 is powered by the IWC hand-wound 98300 calibre beating at 18,000 vph (2.5 Hz) and offering a power reserve of 46 hours.

The movement of choice for the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 is the hand-wound 4 Hz (28,800 vph) 59215 calibre with a 192-hour power reserve which guarantees accurate running for 8 days before stopping. The remaining energy can be seen on the power reserve display visible through a small aperture covered by sapphire glass on the back of the watch.

Both movements include a hacking second mechanism, a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields and a friction clutch to prevent the risk of overwinding.

The cases of the two new Big Pilot Watches are crafted from titanium which contributes to make them less heavy, hence more comfortable. The surface is sandblasted to eliminate reflections that might be detrimental to the watch’s legibility. They offer water resistance to 6 bar.

The cone-shaped crown is a reminder of the early days of flying, when the crown had to be large enough to make setting and winding the watch possible even with gloves.

Like the original model whose dial design was based on cockpit instruments, the dials of the IWC Big Pilot Watches 2016 are very essential, making them easy to be read, even in poor visibility,

The big Arabic numerals, the indices showing the minutes and the propeller-like hands are coated with a thick layer of beige-coloured Super-LumiNova in vivid contrast against the matte black background.

The typical triangular index with dots on either side, which takes the place of the "12" figure, makes it possible to recognize the relative position of the hands and read the time even with a quick glance in the dark.

IWC’s designers chose to place the triangle below 12 o’clock instead of integrating it in the
chapter ring as a further evocation of the 1940 original.

The original Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T.S.C.) dating back to 1940

Completed by brown calfskin straps, the prices of the Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 48 (ref. IW510301) and Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (ref. IW510401) are Euro 15,200 / US$ 14,000 and Euro 16,700 / US$ 15,400 respectively.

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