IWC pilot watches is one of the most famous collections in history, probably even the most important one, will be presented in a 45 square meter space.
The space I am talking about is IWC boutique situated in Piazza di Spagna and the collection I am referring to will showcase timepieces with an incredible historic value, milestones in the history of the brand from Schaffhausen and in the history of the entire military air force. For the first time in their history, IWC have accepted to display outside of their own museum, seven of their special watches that represent the very origins of the Pilot’s collection. Among them are some models that only those people who have had a military aircraft’s pilot in their family in the 40s or that successfully participated in a Christie’s auction, have had the luck to either own or tell about.
I had the privilege to preview what other fans, firstly those who have subscribed to IWC ’s newsletter, will have the chance to see at the beginning of next week and that everybody else will also be able to see after scheduling an appointment, if any is still available, with the sales assistants and managers of the Roman boutique. Let me start off with three numbers out of the seven ones on display; 436 , 431 and Mark XI .
Most of you won’t recognize these three figures straightaway but a real fan’s eyes will immediately start sparkling with joy when they hear them. Reference 436 is the true origin of the Pilot’s Watch collection’s myth, the very first aviator timepiece ever crafted in Schaffhausen that IWC reproduced on a limited series scale a few years ago. The watch was originally released in 1936 and it sported a “ chemin de fer ” minute ring and an arrow-shaped indicator positioned on the bi-directional bezel that was used to synchronize the time between all the pilots and the staff deployed at ground stations during war operations.
This timepiece is probably the least known of the entire collection since, somehow, it has always been put in a corner by the fame of the 52 T.S.C. , the father of the modern Big Pilot’s Watch that was commissioned by the Luftwaffe in 1940 . The watch sports central seconds and a big glowing triangle located at 12 o’clock that allows the user to check the time even when there was not light around.
Today, an aviator watch is an item for everybody and the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 2016 is, in my opinion, the best Big Pilot’s ever crafted – together with the 5002 – yesterday, however, this type of timepiece played a completely different role. It was the faithful companion of military pilots, it had to be even more precise than the instruments positioned on an aircraft’s navigation panel and it was instrumental to successfully complete complicated military operations during a time when flying was still being perfected. It was a time when the success of a mission was solely based on the perfect synchronization between a pilot and their T.S.C. and between the flying staff and the ground personnel.
The size of this timepiece ( 55mm of diameter) was chosen both to guarantee an extreme lightness and, most of all, to make sure that it was extremely precise and that’s also why it was equipped with a big manual caliber measuring 19 lines that would guarantee a superior level of precision. The 52 T.S.C. is a desire item and the price of the still existing samples has grown exponentially with the passing of time.
The model that we saw at the SIHH 2016 event takes inspiration from the T.S.C. and was released in only 100 pieces , 4 of which are being sold in two Italian boutiques, namely in Rome and Milan . IWC boast many boutiques located all around the world but Italy was the first country that was granted in exclusive those seven historic watches and it is great to see how Italy and Italian watch aficionados are becoming a strategic point of reference for the brand.
This event was organized in a perfect manner, the location where the boutique is situated requires no further presentations – the beautiful Piazza di Spagna – and the idea to take to Italy such an important part of IWC ’s history represents an extremely original initiative and also a smart way to put together the brand, their fans and journalists alike. The manufacturer from Schaffhausen isn’t simply an haute horlogerie brand but it is also a manufacturer with a rich history on its shoulders, the collection value of its watches grows as fast as new models and complications are being released.