WATCH THE ALTITUDE
CROWN Singapore|Issue 3 - 2021
IWC Schffahausen’s pure and utilitarian Big Pilot’s Watch 43 scores without trying too hard. Not that it needed to
Alvin Wong

The temptation faced by watch brands, assailed by the incessant demand from armchair critics to ‘show us something new’, has always been to tinker. We’ve seen the bending of shapes, makeover of dials and, sometimes, even reimagining of an entire collection’s history as watch designers buckle under the pressure of joining the narrative of ‘product evolution’. Sometimes they work. Oftentimes, they just appear to be paying lip-service and hoping that they wouldn’t be caught out.

But what’s the alternative, then? Well, maybe just don’t? Case in point: IWC Schffahausen’s new Big Pilot’s Watch 43. A resolutely modern collection that makes no apologies for sticking to its aesthetic roots and ethos, simply because there is no reason to do otherwise.

If you took a vintage IWC pilot’s watch from the 1940s (the most famous of which will probably be the Big Pilot’s Watch Calibre 52 T.S.C.) and compared it with the new Big Pilot’s Watch 43, you’d probably find more similarities than differences between the two. Both three-hand watches bear high-contrast dials, generously sized cases, large conical crowns and riveted leather straps. Solid, easy-to-read and use practical timekeepers designed for pilots who already have one too many gauges to mind in their cockpits. So, why would anyone want to mess about with that?

Staying True

Although the aforementioned Calibre 52 T.S.C is credited with laying foundation for IWC’s pilot’s watches, the brand itself points to the Big Pilot’s Watch Ref. 5002 from 2002 as the catalyst and blueprint for all its modern variants.

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