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In 2016, the TOP GUN line takes to the runway with minor design modifications and embossed calfskin straps. The Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN and the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN are smaller and neater than in previous years, while the watchmakers at IWC have fitted the chronographs with an in-house calibre. And the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN now appears with a new strap.

The TOP GUN Edition watches have been part of IWCSchaffhausen’s Pilot’s Watch squadron since 2007. They take their name from a special training course offered by the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School, the “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor”, better known by the legendary accolade Top Gun. With their black cockpit design, attractive materials mix and state-of-the-art watchmaking technology, the TOP GUNwatches have made a name for themselves among aficionados of modern timepieces.

One of the hallmark features of the TOP GUN line is the no-frills dial design and stark contrast of black and white, also known as the cockpit design or instrument look. Its roots go back to the 1930s and 1940s, when pilots had to focus on an increasing number of instruments under the frequently dire lighting conditions in the cockpit. It was back then that light, high-contrast luminescent figures and propeller-like hands against matte black dials firmly established themselves. In 1936, IWC Schaffhausen adopted the instrument look for its first Special Pilot’s Watch and thus helped it to make its breakthrough as the design of choice for classic pilot’s watches.

The second special feature was the use of high-tech ceramic for the case, and titanium for the controls and the back of the watch. IWC Schaffhausen was the first manufacturer worldwide to use these materials in watchmaking. The zirconium oxide case is water-resistant to 6 bar, anti-magnetic, acid-resistant, light and, like titanium, very skin-friendly. Titanium is corrosion-proof and tougher than steel at only around half the weight.


In 2016, all three models in the TOP GUN line will undergo one modification. Instead of a soft strap, the watches now feature an embossed black calfskin strap. Optically speaking, the change is virtually unnoticeable, but leather is considerably more robust and harder wearing. Apart from this, the Top Gun logo is now engraved on the reverse side of the case of the Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN and the Pilot’s Watch ChronographTOP GUN. This is much more discreet than the previous coloured imprint.

The case diameter of the Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN (Ref. IW502001) has been reduced by two millimetres, which makes the 46-millimetre ceramic case more interesting for potential buyers with a slimmer wrist. For the dial, IWC’s designers decided to do away with the small, signal red silhouette of an aircraft as a counterpoise for the seconds hand in favour of a clean, uncluttered watch face. The triangular index with the white dot on either side is no longer part of the chapter ring. It now functions as an additional, eye-catching design element above the logo. The white Arabic numerals are designed to be slightly more conspicuous.

Even if the Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN, with its reduced dial and large cone-shaped crown, bears the most obvious resemblance to the Big Pilot’s Watch of 1940, its owner, of course, will not have to forgo contemporary convenience features such as the power reserve and date display. The IWC-manufactured 51111 calibre, which comprises 311 components, is one of IWC’s largest automatic movements. With its patented pawl-winding system, it builds up more than a 7-day power reserve after just 1,960 revolutions of the rotor. But the power reserve mechanism is smart and allows it to run for only 168 hours before stopping the movement. This way it is certain that the watch will keep perfect time for 7 days when fully wound. On the front side of the case, the sapphire glass has antireflective coating on both sides and is secured against sudden drops in pressure in the cockpit.


In the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN (Ref. IW389001), the ceramic case has been reduced in size from 46 to 44 millimetres. The designers have tidied up the dial and made it easier to read by replacing the triple date display with a single date indicator. As you would expect of a chronograph, you can record times with the help of the titanium push-buttons – more conveniently than ever before. The new, IWC-manufactured 89361 calibre from the 89000-calibre family shows stopped minutes and hours on a subdial at “12 o’clock”, while the central hand takes care of the stopped seconds. Compared with earlier aggregate timing systems, the watch-within-a-watch makes everything much simpler. The watch also has an integrated flyback function: when the reset button is pushed, the stopwatch hand returns to zero and instantaneously starts another recording sequence. The small red hacking seconds rotating at “6 o’clock” indicates that the watch is running normally. It can be stopped whenever necessary for synchronization. A soft-iron inner case protects the precision mechanism against the omnipresent threat of magnetism.

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