To cap off a year of popular releases in 2019, IWC Schaffhausen released its latest special edition of its Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar this past December. The new “Lewis Hamilton” Edition, released in partnership and collaboration with Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton (pictured below), represents the highest elevation of this perpetual calendar watch to date, using a creative combination of materials and colors to offer a high-luxury consumer an uncommon watch in the market as well as a unique piece in the IWC collection.
The new model features a 46.5-mm black ceramic Big Pilot case, with a prominent screw-down rose-gold “cone” crown on its right side. The case frames the watch’s key feature, a sunray-pattern Bordeaux-red dial with rose-gold accents throughout. Its outer edge hosts a familiar minute ring, with slightly enlarged applied hour markers as well as the signature triangle marker at the 12 o’clock position, an element of early historical pilots’ watches. Inside this outer ring are Arabic numerals at most hour positions, while rose-gold sword style hands sweep over the face to indicate the hour and minute.
The Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar is a watch well-known for its complications and subdials, and this model is no different. Toward the top of the dial is a lunar phase indicator where black and gold circles give the impression of orbiting one another, while toward the bottom is a subdial for the months of the year with a small arrow-tipped pointer indicating the current month. At the 3 o’clock position you’ll find another subdial, with a date indicator on the outer edge, and the watch’s power reserve scale within; finally, at the 9 o’clock mark, you’ll find another double layered subdial with the days on the outer edge and running seconds on the inner portion. The final indicator on the dial is a subtle year indicator at the 7:30 position, a simple black-and-white-colored addition to the red and gold seen throughout the rest of the dial.
Inside the new perpetual calendar is the IWC 52615 manufacture caliber. This is a prized movement, produced in-house by the company, which features a double-barrel system that supports a 7-day power reserve, and drives the watch’s namesake perpetual calendar, which theoretically only requires adjustment after 577.5 years of continuous use (though it might need some servicing before then). The automatic movement is powered by a solid gold rotor visible behind a sapphire window, which itself is further outlined by a matching rose-gold caseback. The new “Lewis Hamilton” Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Edition will be limited to 100 editions, and will be sold at select IWC boutiques globally, priced at $52,000.
As other writers have commented, the new watch is one of the more interesting iterations of the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar to date, not only because of the new partnership that’s supporting it, but further by the very distinctive and eye-catching color scheme IWC developed specifically for the model, which also resulted from that close collaboration.
This new colorway represents a shift by the brand, which notably launched the #IWCBlueDial campaign in 2016, and at the start of 2019 released the previous Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar model using its signature blue in the “Rodeo Drive” edition (pictured above). Christian Knoop, Creative Director of IWC Schaffhausen, argues the watch’s use of a black ceramic case with gold accents and a Bordeaux-red dial represents an “understated luxury.” While claiming that a gold-accented, 46.5-mm $52,000 luxury watch sponsored by a renowned Formula 1 driver is “understated” seems like a bit a of stretch, the colorway nonetheless could open the door for more bold aesthetic choices in other watches going forward if it proves successful. If so, a red and gold Mark series or Pilot’s Watch Chronograph might well be next.