At the IWC watches booth at SIHH 2016, the theme will be all about pilot watches with two of the flagship limited edition models being the new IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 and the related IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 48. Each of these watches is directly inspired by the 55mm-wide IWC Big Pilot’s Watch the company produced in 1940 for military purposes. Pictures of the original 52-calibre T.S.C.are below, with one amusing one showing the comparative 55mm-wide size with other older IWC pilot watches.
A few years ago at SIHH, IWC also chose its pilot watch collection as the main aesthetic theme of the year. Then, it was all about modern aircraft and jet fighters with an emphasis on some new Top Gun versions of Cheap IWC Replica. Thus, my suspicion is that this year in 2016, the theme at the IWC booth will be one of more historic flight to recall the World War II-era origins of the 1940 watch that inspired these two new limited editions.Truly, the main difference between the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 and the Big Pilot’s Heritage 48 is the size of the case. The former being the same 55mm width of the 1940 original, while the slightly higher-production IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 48 will predictably come in a 48mm-wide case that is going to be actually wearable for more wrists compared to the almost novelty-sized 55mm-wide model.
The 98300 movement is thinner than the calibre 59215 used in the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 48 watch, but is otherwise a lot simpler in its operation with a 2.5Hz frequency and a power reserve of 46 hours. The movement is often easily identified by its long fine adjustment needle. Here, however, you can’t view the movement through the intentionally sparse solid titanium caseback.It is also worth mentioning that the IWC Replica Watches cases are both water resistant to 60 meters, and each also uses a soft Faraday cage on the inner part of the case to add a high level of magnetic resistance to the watches. The crowns are also fitted with “high friction clutches” that prevent the watches from being overwound. These were originally developed to protect the delicate movements inside of pilot watches from being wound too much, as aviators were often winding them using gloves and could not as easily feel resistance from the movements during winding.
Going back to the dial, it is nice to see the classic flieger Cheap IWC return with the beige-colored lume and use of “triangle with two dots on the side” icon placed under the 12 o’clock hour indicator. Legibility should prove to be excellent for the dials as well, and I look forward to seeing how the blued hands play with the light as well as the other textures and finishes on the dial of these IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 and 48 watches.Inside the smaller 48mm-wide model is the also IWC in-house-made calibre 59215 manually wound movement. In my opinion, this is the one to be more excited about, as it has a long power reserve of 192 hours and operates at a modern frequency of 4Hz. IWC matches each of the IWC Replica Watches with brown calf leather pilot-style straps with the iconic-looking rivets on them.