If you’ve been following IWC’s social media channels, you already know they’re swinging for the fences this SIHH, as the venerable Schaffhausen manufacture is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Joining the 150th ‘Jubilee Collection,’ is a trio of highly limited pilot watches equipped with the brand’s bread-and-butter complications, each with a special lacquered dial and handset. Granted, two of the three variants aren’t going to come cheap, but at least one of the three is positioned to please longtime Big Pilot fans, and likely prove to be the real winner for those looking to participate in this Jubilee event.
When it comes to an aesthetic that is at once modern and masculine, but smacks of classical finishing as a general treat to the eyes, it really doesn’t get much better than a milky-white lacquer dial, contrasted by a warmly blued handset. IWC is leading off its 150th Big Pilot collection with two variants that get exactly this treatment, first with one of its most popular configurations: the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph. This new reference IW377725 mirrors the 43mm footprint and movement execution of the rest of the popular IW3777, but with a classic twist in the form of the new white dial with blue hands – a very rare combination for this particular reference. The Pilot’s Chronograph has always carried high marks for legibility, but this new configuration kicks that contrast up a notch.
IWC extends the blue-on-white aesthetic in a slightly more limited form with the second reference in the collection: the Pilot’s Watch Big Date Edition, which is a brand new Pilot execution featuring the brand’s in-house manufactured hand-wound calibre 59235, characterized by its oversized date aperture at 12:00. Available in both white, and blue lacquered dial options, this new Pilot maintains the key design signatures of the rest of the collection, like the oversized onion crown, soft iron Faraday cage protecting the movement, and 60m water resistance. In addition to the new twin-wheel date display, flip the watch over, and you’ll notice a handy power reserve that notes how much of the movement’s eight days of power is remaining.
Without question, the most complicated in the new trio is going to be the Annual Calendar “150 Years” Edition. Unlike the Big Date, the Annual Calendar is not an entirely new reference – just a new dial option that joins the existing Spitfire, ‘Petit Prince,’ and ‘Antoine de Saint-Exupery’ Annual Calendar variants. It utilizes the same movement – IWC’s in-house manufactured Calibre 52850, a twin-barreled annual calendar movement with seven days of power reserve and IWC’s Pellaton winding system which is designed to maximize winding efficiency while minimizing long-term wear and tear through the use of a number of key ceramic components, like pawls and bearings. Unlike the other 150 Year Editions though, the Annual Calendar will only be available in a lacquered blue dial, and is extremely limited to 100 pieces.
The 150th Anniversary collection starts at $5,150 for the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition (ref. IW377725) which is limited to 1000 pieces, and priced at a slight premium over the standard Chronograph (ref. IW377709 has an MSRP of $4,950). Pricing climbs to $13,800 for the Pilot’s Big Date Edition (ref. IW510503 and IW510504), which is available in two dial options limited to 100 pieces each. The Jubilee collection then tops out at $19,700 for the Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition, which is also limited to 100 pieces in total. Stay tuned for more impressions as we go hands-on with these watches at SIHH.iwc.com