Pilot’s watches are designed with a very specific purpose: each dial has to be as clean and easy-to-read as possible so that a pilot wearing the watch can glance at the timepiece and gather as much information as possible within a short timeframe. IWC’s Big Pilot meets such specs — it is an oversized aviation timepiece that indeed lives up to its name. The earlier novelties of Big Pilot were oversized at 46 mm, but when it showcased a whole new lineup in 43 mm, it indicated the direction the collection is likely to follow in the future. This year, IWC has revealed the next chapter in the 2008 Big Pilot Markus Bühler (Ref. IW329901) series — Big Pilot's Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler. It’s a 51-piece limited edition, inspired by a unique offering Markus Bühler created for a competition in the final year of his watchmaking apprenticeship at IWC Schaffhausen.
So, who is Markus Bühler? Markus didn’t start out as a watchmaker or had any association with horology. He was a trained carpenter at the family-owned business, Bühler & Co. He then decided to change career and has dedicated his work to IWC Schaffhausen for the past 22 years. At IWC, he started as an apprentice and today, he is the Associate Director of the Watch & Movement Assembly. As Bühler puts it, “The watchmaking world gave me a playground for this curiosity and fascination. Watch movements are so complex, they are little machines.”
The new Big Pilot Markus Bühler is not chunkier than the previous versions, but is rather compact at 43 mm. It is crafted from platinum for the case, the lugs, and the onion crown at 3 o’clock. It is still fitted with the turbine tourbillon on the dial at 6 o’clock but not on the back, which still acts as a small seconds indicator, thanks to a red dot on one of the 12 blades. The dial gets oversized Arabic hour markers with a highly legible white minute track. The new timepiece features a glossy black dial with rhodium-plated hands and hour markers coated with Super-LumiNova®.
In a tourbillon, the balance and the escapement are housed in a small cage that rotates around its axis once per minute. The higher its mass and inertia, the more energy it takes to keep the mechanism in motion. Weight reduction is, therefore, the primary focus in any tourbillon construction. For this reason, the turbine was machined from a lightweight titanium alloy. Here, the pallet lever and the escape wheel were treated with Diamond Shell® technology, a special coating that reduces friction and improves the energy flow in the movement.
Powering this Big Pilot’s watch is the IWC-manufactured 82905 calibre, offering a power reserve of 80 hours in the mainspring. Turning the watch over showcases the sapphire caseback with a black PVD-coated plate, bridges, and a rotor. The rotor has the IWC logo while the caseback gets the engraving of the individual watch number out of 51. Finishing the watch is a black Cordovan leather strap with Markus Bühler’s signature printed on the inner side that complements the design.