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IWC has a new limited edition pilot watch that features a tourbillon inspired by an aircraft engine

IWC limited edition Big Pilot's Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch
IWC / IWC

In the world of luxury watches, few brands command as much respect and admiration as IWC Schaffhausen. Known for their precision, craftsmanship, and timeless design, IWC watches have long been a symbol of sophistication and style for men. This year, IWC has once again raised the bar with the introduction of their latest men’s watch, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler. Inspired by the success of the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler from 2008, this limited edition release takes the concept to a whole new level.

The turbine takes flight

The most striking feature of the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler is the integration of a miniature aircraft turbine into a flying minute tourbillon at the 6 o’clock position on the dial.

Markus Bühler, the Associate Director of Watch and Movement Assembly at IWC Schaffhausen and the namesake behind this timepiece, expressed his amazement at leading the development of this second edition: “When I created my Big Pilot’s Watch with a turbine as an apprentice watchmaker, I would never have imagined I would lead the development of a second edition 15 years later – let alone that I would be responsible for all assembly processes at IWC.”

The challenge of precision

Integrating a turbine into a tourbillon was no small feat. In a tourbillon, the balance and escapement are housed in a small cage that rotates once per minute. The turbine, machined from a lightweight titanium alloy, had to be meticulously crafted. Each of the twelve minuscule blades was polished by hand to ensure precision and aesthetic perfection. This turbine serves a dual purpose, acting as the upper part of the tourbillon cage, replacing the regulator. This ingenious design allows the watchmaker to adjust the zero crossing of the balance by turning the turbine.

If that all sounds a bit confusing, just focus on the result, which is a state-of-the-art tourbillon composed of 56 parts, weighing a mere 0.663 grams. To further enhance performance, the pallet lever and escape wheel were treated with Diamond Shell technology, reducing friction and improving energy flow in the movement.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch
IWC / IWC

Platinum excellence

The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler is not only a technical marvel but also a testament to luxury. Its 43-millimeter case and crown are meticulously crafted from platinum, one of the rarest and most precious metals used in watchmaking. The case’s hand-finished polished surfaces around the bezel and horns bring out the platinum’s whitish shimmer, creating an elegant and refined appearance.

The glossy black dial features white numerals and applied indices filled with Super-LumiNova, ensuring visibility in any lighting conditions. Completing the look is a black Cordovan leather strap with Markus Bühler’s signature discreetly printed on the inner side.

At the heart of this limited edition men’s watch is the IWC-manufactured 82905 calibre. This movement boasts a Pellaton winding system reinforced with ceramic components, offering a power reserve of 80 hours in the mainspring. The meticulous craftsmanship extends to the movement’s aesthetics, with plates, bridges, and the rotor visible through the sapphire case back. These components are blackened with a PVD coating, laser-engraved, and rhodium-plated in the engraved areas.

A testament to IWC’s apprentice program

The story behind the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler is a testament to the strength of IWC’s apprentice program. The first edition, created in 2008 as an entry for a competition, won first prize. This watch has since become a collector’s item. Apprentices’ competitions and innovation challenges are fundamental pillars of IWC’s strategy, fostering the development of young talent and driving cutting-edge watchmaking solutions.

Markus Bühler himself is a prime example of the program’s success. After completing his apprenticeship as a watchmaker, he continued his journey with IWC, holding various positions within the company. Since 2020, he has been responsible for the entire spectrum of IWC’s assembly processes at the new Manufakturzentrum as the Associate Director of Watch & Movement Assembly.

This limited-edition men’s watch, with only 51 available, seamlessly marries the worlds of aviation and horology, paying homage to the brand’s rich heritage.

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Sarah Veldman
Freelance Writer
Sarah has been a freelance writer for over 7 years now, having started while she was living out of a suitcase and traveling…
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