IWC famously pioneered the use of both titanium and ceramics as watchmaking materials as early as the 1980s. In 2017, the Schaffhausen-based watchmaker melded the most desirable attributes of both materials in a new, proprietary substance called Ceratanium, debuting it on a model from its Aquatimer dive watch family. Since then, IWC has expanded the use of Ceratanium throughout its portfolio, most recently and most notably in its flagship Pilot’s Watches. The latest two examples hail from the “performance-oriented” Top Gun sub-family of the Pilot’s Watch collection, and each represents a first for the brand. Here is the lowdown on the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Ceratanium and Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Top Gun Ceratanium.
This Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Ceratanium represents the first use of the innovative Timezoner complication in a watch from IWC’s Top Gun range. The case, of course, is made of Ceratanium, the proprietary lightweight material that boasts the structural integrity of titanium along with the exceptional scratch-resistance of ceramic and offers a matte, jet-black surface color suitable for the “tactical” design of the Top Gun family. The case measures 46 mm in diameter and 15.1 mm thick, with a ceramic city ring with 24 cities (one for each of the world’s primary time zones) and a black dial with gray-printed numerals. The case’s screw-down crown helps ensure a 60-meter water resistance, the sapphire crystal with double-sided nonreflective coating is secured against displacement by air pressure drops, and the dial’s white hands and numerals are luminous-coated.
The watch is equipped with IWC’s automatic Caliber 82760 (essentially the Caliber 89760 that powered the first Timezoner model, minus the chronograph elements), whose patented world-time functionality allows the wearer to quickly and easily re-set the time, along with the date and 24-hour display below 12 o’clock, in a single turn of the bezel. Simply press the city-ring bezel down to turn it so the city representing the desired time zone is at 12 o’clock, then release it: both the hour hand and the 24-hour disk will move synchronously with the turning of the bezel, and the date display will also change accordingly, either forward or backward. The 24-hour indication ensures that the wearer will always know at a glance whether it is day or night in the home time zone. The advance of the minute hand, and all the watch’s other functions, are unaffected while changing time zones. The movement, visible behind a sapphire caseback, features IWC’s bidirectional Pellaton winding system and incorporates virtually wear-free components made of zirconium oxide ceramic. The watch comes on a black rubber strap with a textile inlay and is limited to 500 pieces, priced at $16,900.
Moving up in complexity is the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Ceratanium, which marks its own milestone as the first IWC watch to use Ceratanium not only for the case and crown but also for the bracelet, which due to its use of the proprietary material is 30 percent lighter than a steel bracelet and engineered for maximum wearing comfort.
Like the Perpetual Calendars that preceded it in this year’s fleet of new Pilot’s Watches, the timepiece’s 46.2-mm case frames a complex dial with indications for the date, day, month, and four-digit year, along with an ultra-precise moon-phase display that depicts the moon as seen from both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and which will deviate from the natural lunar cycle by just one day after 577.5 years. IWC also managed to fit a power-reserve indicator on the dial (sharing the 3 ‘clock subdial with the 31-day date display), which informs the wearer on the status of the watch’s impressive 7-day running autonomy.
Like the Timezoner, the Perpetual Calendar’s Ceratanium case features a tinted sapphire crystal in the back, this one offering a view of another in-house movement, IWC’s automatic Caliber 52615. In addition to the famed Pellaton winding system, robust ceramic components, and lengthy week-long power reserve stored in two barrels, the movement features a hacking seconds function that enables precise re-setting in coordination with a time signal. Beating at 28,800 vph and incorporating 54 jewels and the hallmark IWC medallion on its openworked rotor, the movement is protected inside the 60-meter water resistant case by a large screw-down crown characteristic of historical pilots’ watches. The Ceratanium bracelet fastens to the wrist with folding clasp. Limited to 150 pieces, the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Ceratanium is priced at $48,000.