Pilot Double Chronograph
Pilot Spitfire Chronograph
Big Pilot Top Gun
Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36
IWC Pilot's Watches: Classics of the Skies
IWC Schaffhausen's Pilot's Watches collection has a long history. There's something for everyone, from classic models and ceramic chronographs to complicated pieces with a perpetual calendar or tourbillon.
5 Reasons to Buy a Pilot’s Watch
- A long tradition of pilot's watches
- The Spitfire series with high-quality in-house calibers
- Optimal readability thanks to luminous hands, numerals, and indices
- Coveted special editions like Le Petit Prince and the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
- A wide range of materials: stainless steel, gold, titanium, bronze, and ceramic
A Tradition of Pilot's Watches since 1936
IWC Schaffhausen has a closer connection to pilot's watches than almost any other Swiss watch manufacturer. The company introduced their Spezialuhr für Flieger (special watch for pilots) all the way back in 1936. Models like the Große Fliegeruhr (big pilot's watch) from 1940 and the Mark 11 from 1948 are both considered classics today and are coveted collector's items.
IWC continues this tradition in the Pilot's Watches collection. These timepieces resemble their historical predecessors from the early 40s. Their designs have always followed the specifications of Baumuster A (Type A). Back in the 1930s, Germany's Imperial Ministry of Aviation defined two standard dial designs for pilot's watches, known as Baumuster A and B. Features of Baumuster A include luminous Arabic numerals and indices, sword hands, and a pilot's triangle at 12 o'clock for optimal readability.
The current collection contains an impressive variety of models, from three-hand watches and chronographs to timepieces with an in-house caliber, perpetual calendar, moon phase display, and tourbillon. The case materials are just as diverse and include stainless steel, gold, platinum, titanium, bronze, and ceramic. With diameters ranging from 36 to 55 mm, there are plenty of options to choose from for both men and women.
How much does a Pilot's Watch cost?
|Big Pilot's Constant-Force Tourbillon Le Petit Prince||260,000 USD||Rose gold||Tourbillon, moon phase, power reserve indicator|
|Pilot's Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium||17,000 USD||Ceratanium||Double chronograph, date, day|
|Pilot's Watch Automatic Top Gun||7,000 USD||Ceramic||Date|
|Pilot's Watch Mark 11||6,800 USD||Stainless steel||Legendary caliber 89|
|Pilot's Watch Automatic Spitfire||6,100 USD||Bronze||Date|
|Pilot's Watch Classic Chronograph||5,400 USD||Stainless steel||Chronograph, date|
|Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII||3,800 USD||Stainless steel||Date|
Detailed Price and Model Information: The Mark Series
The Classic series within the Pilot's Watches collection comes closest to IWC's vintage timepieces. One example is the Mark XVIII, a descendant of the famous Mark 11. This 40-mm stainless steel watch bears a strong resemblance to the Große Fliegeruhr thanks to its sword hands and hefty line indices. Only a date display at 3 o'clock distinguishes this modern watch from its historical predecessor. This timepiece is available with a black dial and white markings or a white dial and black markings.
The Sellita SW 300-1 has powered these watches since 2017. Older models use the ETA 2892-2. An inner soft iron cage protects the movement from magnetic fields. You can purchase a new Mark XVIII on a leather strap for around 3,800 USD. Set aside about 1,000 USD more for the version on a stainless steel bracelet. Pre-owned Mark XVIIIs can cost as little as 3,200 USD.
The pre-owned market contains a wealth of earlier Mark models. You can recognize these timepieces by their lack of numerals at 6 and 9 o'clock. Prices for well-maintained and mint-condition examples range from 2,900 USD for a Mark XVI to 5,100 USD for a Mark XV.
Collectors are particularly fond of the original Mark 11 and its direct successor, the Mark XII. Their dial designs help them stand out from the other models. The most obvious difference is their hands. They feature a narrower, tapered baton minute hand and a wide, non-tapered hour hand. What's more, their stick indices are much less imposing. You'll need about 6,800 USD to purchase a pre-owned Mark 11 in good condition. A Mark XII in the same condition demands prices starting around 3,500 USD.
The Big Pilot's Watch: Extra-Large Cases up to 55 mm
Like the Mark series, the Big Pilot's Watches line is another cornerstone of the IWC catalog. It continues the legacy of the Große Fliegeruhr from 1940, including the classic Baumuster A dial, an extra-large case , and a massive, conical crown. Most of the current models are 46 mm in diameter, though some special editions reach up to 48 or a historically accurate 55 mm. No matter the size, every Big Pilot's Watch comes with an in-house caliber.
IWC produces numerous pilot's watches in different price ranges. Three-hand models made of stainless steel, titanium, or bronze cost around 11,500 USD. You'll need about double that to purchase the rose gold version. The Spitfire series includes Big Pilot's watches with a perpetual calendar and moon phase display. The bronze edition introduced at SIHH 2019 demands around 35,000 USD. Also from 2019, the Le Petit Prince Constant-Force Tourbillon is especially exclusive. It boasts a tourbillon, moon phase display, and IWC's patented constant-force mechanism that ensures a constant flow of energy from the mainspring to the swing and escapement systems. This timepiece is limited to a run of 20 pieces, ten in rose gold and ten in platinum. Each sells for around 260,000 USD.
The Pilot's Watch Spitfire: The Elegant Model
The Spitfire series puts an elegant spin on the otherwise technical and plain looks of pilot's watches. These timepieces pay tribute to the famed British fighter plane made by Supermarine. Every Spitfire case back features an engraving of this legendary aircraft's silhouette. The Royal Air Force used this plane throughout the 1950s, and it is one of the most produced aircraft of all time.
IWC exclusively equips this collection with in-house calibers. Some even feature complications like a perpetual calendar, moon phase display, chronograph, or second time zone. The true sense of refinement comes from the gold, bronze, or polished stainless steel cases. Dials with a shimmering blue, matte olive green, or metallic gray sunburst finish round off these tasteful timepieces.
Entry-level Spitfire models have three hands and a date at 3 o'clock. Plan to spend about 5,400 USD for a never-worn watch. Prices for the bronze version sit around 6,100 USD. The series' chronographs require a larger investment and begin around 7,000 USD. Top models with a perpetual calendar or world time display cost between 15,500 and 35,000 USD.
You can save a fair amount by purchasing an earlier edition. Three-hand pieces change hands for as little as 2,500 USD, while chronographs demand just under 3,400 USD. However, it's worth noting that these timepieces are powered by ETA calibers and not in-house movements.
Keeping Time with the Pilot's Watch Chronograph
Chronographs appear in every series within the Pilot's Watches collection. The Le Petit Prince Perpetual Calendar Chronograph and the Timezoner Chronograph are especially interesting. The in-house caliber 89630 lends the Petit Prince its flyback chronograph, perpetual calendar, and moon phase display. Its 43-mm rose gold case pairs beautifully with the blue sunburst dial and dark brown calf leather strap. Only 250 copies of this timepiece exist, and it has an official list price of 38,300 USD.
The Timezoner Chronograph is a flyback chronograph that allows you to effortlessly switch between the 24 most important time zones. This is made possible using a so-called city ring: a rotatable bezel with a city name representing each of the 24 time zones. The city name for the time zone currently on display sits at 12 o'clock. Whenever you turn the bezel to a different time zone using the patented internal-external bezel system, the main hour hand and the hand on the 24-hour display automatically jump to the correct time. The date also adjusts as necessary. This practical stainless steel timepiece uses an automatic in-house caliber and costs around 10,000 USD new. Pre-owned pieces sell for about 8,600 USD.
The Top Gun Double Chronograph is yet another interesting model. Its caliber is based on the Sellita SW-500 and comes with a split-seconds mechanism for measuring intervals. This feature is operated using an additional crown at 10 o'clock. The case is also extraordinary. It's made of a special titanium-ceramic alloy called Ceratanium. This material is shatter-proof and scratch resistant. It also lends this watch its elegant, matte black finish. A silky black dial and light gray hands and indices complete the look. This high-tech stopwatch has a list price of 14,600 USD.
There are also less conspicuous options available. One example is the Pilot's Chronograph in the Classic series. This 43-mm stainless steel chronograph features a refined Sellita SW-500 caliber. You can purchase this timepiece for as little as 5,400 USD in mint condition and 4,700 USD pre-owned. Prices for well-maintained models from earlier generations start around 3,400 USD. The least expensive timepieces come from the early 1990s and use quartz movements. They change hands for between 2,000 and 2,400 USD.
The Next Generation: Pilot's Watch Top Gun in Ceramic
IWC combines classic pilot's watch aesthetics with state-of-the-art materials in the Top Gun series. The secret is ceramic; it makes for particularly scratch-resistant, light, and comfortable watches. Its black hue also looks slightly futuristic. This series is home to three-hand watches and chronographs, each with an in-house caliber. Mint-condition models with a stopwatch function demand around 9,800 USD. Pre-owned models cost about 1,100 USD less.
Three-hand watches with a 41-mm case require an investment of around 7,000 USD. You'll have to dig quite a bit deeper in your pockets if you'd like to call the 46-mm Big Pilot's Watch Top Gun your own. Depending on its condition, prices for this model run between 10,500 and 13,000 USD.
The Pilot's Watch Chronograph Top Gun Mojave Desert made its debut at SIHH 2019. This watch was inspired by its namesake desert and features a sand-colored ceramic case with a dark khaki brown dial. It's limited to a run of 500 pieces, powered by the in-house caliber 69380, and has a list price of 9,100 USD.
The Special Editions: Le Petit Prince and Saint-Exupéry
IWC regularly releases limited editions in honor of French pilot and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and his famous book The Little Prince. You can recognize these timepieces by their dials: That of the Le Petit Prince series shines in a shimmering blue sunburst, while the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has a tobacco brown sunburst dial.
Both collections contain extremely complicated gold and platinum watches. Prices for models with a tourbillon and moon phase or perpetual calendar can easily climb above 260,000 USD. However, there are more affordable models available. These include stainless steel watches with a Sellita or ETA caliber. You can purchase a simple chronograph starting around 4,600 USD. Those with a double chronograph cost about 10,000 USD. Three-hand watches demand between 3,700 and 4,600 USD depending on the version and its condition.