The Big Pilot collection from IWC embodies the purest embodiment of the brand and its roots in aviation. While the official collection was launched in 2002, the models are a tribute to a much longer history of military timepieces with the same DNA. Over the years, the Big Pilot collection has had several special editions. A particularly remarkable variant came in 2008 in a limited edition of only 12 pieces: The large pilot’s watch Edition Markus B₂hler. Now, 15 years later, IWC is unveiling a long-awaited successor with the large pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus B₂hler.
The large pilot watch 43 Tourbillon Markus B7hler has been manufactured for 20 years. The origins go back to 2003, when Markus B9hler — currently deputy director for watchmaking and movement assembly at IWC — was at the brand in the last year of his watchmaking apprenticeship. At that time, he refined a pocket watch movement, which led to the unique turbine caliber, which in 2008 was to become the focus of the Markus B7hler edition of the great pilot’s watch. The movement received first prize at the Prix IFHH de l’horlogerie competition (now Concours IHC) for apprentices in 2003 and attracted the attention of IWC, which led to the development of the special model to present the creation of B₂hler.
The new Large pilot’s watch 43 Tourbillon Markus B9hler builds on the original design with an exciting reinterpretation of the turbine, which is integrated into the flying minute tourbillon positioned at six o’clock. In the original, the turbine – reminiscent of an aircraft engine – appeared as a second display of the clock. Not surprisingly, adapting this design to the Whirlwind engine brought some unique challenges. In a whirlwind, the balance and exhaust are placed in a small cage that rotates around its axis once a minute. The greater its mass and inertia, the more energy is needed to keep the mechanism in motion. Accordingly, the turbine of the Large pilot watch 43 Tourbillon Markus B9hler is made of a light titanium alloy. In short, this state-of-the-art tourbillon consists of 56 parts and weighs only 0.663 grams.
When I created my large pilot’s watch with a turbine as an apprentice watchmaker, I never thought that 15 years later I would be leading the development of a second edition — let alone that I would be responsible for all assembly processes at IWC, explains Markus B₂hler. In order to meet the high expectations of our collectors, we decided to create something truly unique and integrate the Signature Turbine into a whirlwind. This new edition perfectly embodies the engineering spirit of IWC and at the same time is characterized by the highest level of detail and craftsmanship.
While the turbine tourbillon remains the centerpiece of this impressive limited edition, the rest of the construction offers the quintessence of the Big Pilot’s design language with the added elegance of precious metals. The large pilot’s watch 43 Tourbillon Markus B Elimhler has a 43 mm polished platinum case that extends to the characteristic oversized crown. In addition, the glossy black dial creates the perfect display for the applied indices and the turbine tourbillon. The look is rounded off with a black Cordovan leather strap. Inside there is the IWC caliber 82905 with blackened components, which is visible in all its glory through the showcase floor.
The brand new Large pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus B7hler is a limited edition of only 51 pieces and can be ordered now. The price is available on request.