Singapore Tatler Jewels & Time - - Reviews -

IWC zooms in on its Pi­lot’s range this year, adding a litany of nov­el­ties to the line-up. The col­lec­tion is an­chored by the Big Pi­lot’s Her­itage watch, a trib­ute to the orig­i­nal IWC watches that were used by the mil­i­tary dur­ing World War II. It is guided by the same util­i­tar­ian el­e­ments that shaped the B-uhr watches, namely an over­sized case; ul­tra leg­i­ble mark­ers; a soft iron core that pro­tects the move­ment from mag­netic forces; and a sturdy frame. The watch­maker harks back to the past (a re­cur­rent theme nowa­days) with a 55mm ver­sion, com­mon dur­ing that pe­riod. Aes­thet­i­cally, it fol­lows the codes of the B-uhr range, while tech­ni­cally, it ben­e­fits from IWC’S ad­vanced horo­log­i­cal know-how and is equipped with the hand-wound 98300 cal­i­bre.

Keep­ing with the theme of avi­a­tion, IWC also pays homage once again to well-known avi­a­tor and au­thor An­toine De Saint-ex­upéry. A metal­lic blue dial, sig­na­ture of his trib­ute watches, adorn four of the Pi­lot’s time­pieces: Le Petit Prince Big Pi­lot’s, Pi­lot’s Watch Chrono­graph, Pi­lot’s Watch Mark XVIII, and Big Pi­lot’s Watch An­nual Cal­en­dar Edi­tion “Le Petit Prince”. The lat­ter is en­cased within a rose gold frame. The magic hap­pens at the back, where the ro­tor takes the form of the lit­tle prince stand­ing atop an as­ter­oid, gaz­ing in amaze­ment at the heav­ens above.

Jewels & Time: IWC’S Pi­lot’s watches of the 1940s gained pop­u­lar­ity be­cause of their soft iron cas­ing that pro­tected the move­ment from mag­netic fields. How has this soft iron cas­ing changed over the years?

Ste­fan Ih­nen: The ma­te­rial is quite the same. Our knowl­edge of course has be­come bet­ter and bet­ter. For ex­am­ple, for the Big Pi­lot’s Her­itage watches, we have used this soft iron core. For the 55mm, it was easy as the case back is com­pletely closed. For the 48mm, we opened a part of the case back to show the move­ment where the power re­serve in­di­ca­tion is. With the tech­nolo­gies to­day in our lab, we found that the in­flu­ence of this hole is not that big. It re­duces pro­tec­tion by maybe 10 per cent, which is still 10 times higher than the norm. The norm for an an­ti­mag­netic watch [to be re­sis­tant to mag­netic field strengths] is 4,800A/m. Here, it is a lot higher, more than enough to re­sist the mag­netic fields of iphones and ipads.

J&T: Kurt, what are your sen­ti­ments when you see the Pi­lot’s watch to­day?

Kurt Klaus: In the 1950s, the idea was to make a wrist­watch that was re­ally use­ful for pi­lots. At that time, ev­ery­one liked it; of course, not only for the de­sign, but for its high pre­ci­sion too. I worked a lot on this move­ment in the 1950s when I first started. It was more dif­fi­cult at that time to reg­u­late a wrist­watch to high ac­cu­racy. To­day, as I walk into the IWC man­u­fac­ture, I see watch­mak­ers on the desk do­ing the same as I did in the 1950s. The hand­i­craft is the same, and all the IWC move­ments are still han­dassem­bled. They have mod­ern tools, but it’s the same. This is for me the fas­ci­na­tion; the in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion that’s par­al­lel to hand­i­craft.

We speak to for­mer IWC watch­maker and leg­end Kurt Klaus, and as­so­ci­ate di­rec­tor of R&D, Ste­fan Ih­nen

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