SIHH 2019:

Sands of Time: IWC’s Ceramic-Cased “Mojave Desert” Edition Headlines New Pilot Top Gun Collection


As we revealed back in December, IWC is shining the spotlight on its Pilots’ collection at this year’s SIHH — specifically on a trio of sub-brands within the historical, high-flying family, the Spitfire, Top Gun, and Exupéry/Le Petit Prince. Today, we look at new offerings within the Top Gun series, which has been positioned this year as the proving ground for innovative new high-tech case materials.

IWC Pilots Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition "Mojave Desert" - reclining
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert” pays tribute to the U.S. Navy’s largest land base.

Probably the most noteworthy of these materials, Ceratanium, a patented composite of ceramic and titanium, made its debut in a new Double Chronograph watch that IWC was kind enough to show us ahead of the launch of SIHH (we cover that watch and its attributes here). Not to be ignored, however, is one the brand saved for this week, a new sand-colored ceramic that makes its debut on the 44.5-mm case of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert.” A limited edition of 500 pieces, the watch’s sandy, monochromatic look is inspired by the eponymous desert in the American southwest that is home to the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, the U.S. Navy’s largest landholding, covering more than 1 million acres. (The Top Gun collection, as many IWC aficionados are aware, takes its name and inspiration from a collaboration between the Schaffhausen-based watch brand and the U.S. Navy’s Strike Fighter Tacticsw Instructor School, immortalized in the now-classic 1980s Tom Cruise film, “Top Gun.”) The color of the case, made from a special alloy of zirconium oxide and other metallic oxides) matches that of the uniforms worn by Navy pilots and also evokes, along with the sand-colored strap and dusty brown dial and its khaki-toned numerals and indices, the landscape of the desert.

IWC Pilots Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition "Mojave Desert" - front
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Mojave Desert” (Ref. IW389103)

The watch is outfitted with the new IWC Caliber 69380 — also used in the new and previously covered Spitfire Chronograph series — an in-house-manufactured column-wheel chronograph caliber with pawl winding system. Hidden behind the solid caseback, made of titanium and engraved with Top Gun branding and the watch’s limited edition number, the movement drives the timekeeping, on the two luminous sand-colored hands; the chronograph functions, with elapsed hours and minutes on subdials at 9 and 12 o’clock, respectively; the day and date at 3 o’clock; and the running seconds, equipped with a hacking mechanism, at 6 o’clock. It amasses a power reserve of 46 hours and beats at a frequency of 28,800 vph (4 Hz). The Mojave Desert Edition will retail for $8,200.

IWC Pilots Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition "Mojave Desert" - Back
The sand-colored ceramic case has a specially engraved titanium back.

A more traditional all-black ceramic is used for the the new Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Chronograph, whose case also measures 44.5 mm and contains, nestled inside the anti-magnetic confines of a soft iron inner casing, the same IWC-manufactured Caliber 69380 as in the limited-edition Mojave Desert version. The screw-down crown and solid, engraved titanium caseback help secure for the case a water resistance of 60 meters. The dial features the same tricompax arrangement, with 3 o’clock day-date window, here with the added touch of a contrasting red small seconds hand on the 6 o’clock subdial. The Chronograph Top Gun is mounted on a black textile strap and sells for $7,550.

IWC Pilots Watch Chronograph TOP GUN - front
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun (Ref. IW389101), front (above) and back (below)
IWC Pilots Watch Chronograph TOP GUN - front

On the simpler end of the scale we have the new, black ceramic-cased Pilot’s Watch Automatic Top Gun, slightly more modest in diameter at 41 mm, with the same pilot-friendly attributes as its chronograph brethren (a sapphire crystal secured against displacement by drops in air pressure, a soft iron case protecting the inner mechanisms from magnetic fields). The über-legible black dial has large white Arabic hour numerals, large luminous black-edged hands, and a date window at 3 o’clock. Inside the watch, secured by a titanium caseback, is another new IWC in-house movement, Caliber 32110, with automatic winding, a 72-hour power reserve, a 28,800-vph frequency, and a hacking function for the central seconds display. Offered on a military-look black textile strap, this watch is priced at $5,500.

IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic TOP GUN - reclining
IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Top Gun (Ref. IW326901), front (above) and back (below)
IWC Pilot's Watch Automatic TOP GUN - Back

We’ll be covering more new releases from IWC’s expanded Pilot’s collections in the coming days and weeks. Stay tuned.

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