For years, IWC has dabbled with the idea that the classic German-style aviator watch could be as much a lifestyle product as a tool watch. The idea was that the traditional aviator timepiece aesthetic could be used as a handsome men’s jewelry item – in addition to being a sports watch. The concept is hardly novel, even at IWC, but recently I’ve seen the brand “dress up” its pilot’s watches in a way that explicitly suggests that IWC wants its pilot’s watch flavor to be iconic and status symbolic. An interesting question is, “What status symbol?”
In effect, the effort to turn the Pilot’s Watch into a design icon means that IWC is segmenting part of its collection in a more fashionable direction, while the rest of the watches are still positioned and priced very much like tools. This makes the IWC Pilot’s and fake Rolex shop collections appealing to different categories of customers, but it also means that it becomes challenging for IWC to speak to multiple audiences at once. In part, this is because the message that will appeal to status watch seekers is different from the message that will appeal to dedicated watch enthusiasts. I believe IWC is targeting status seekers looking for a “design icon” men’s jewelry watch, so I will try to keep this type of wearer in mind as I continue to review this watch.
The dial of the Large Pilot’s Watch 43 is extremely simple, which on some days is exactly what you want to wear, and on other days you may want an extravagant timepiece with a large visual dial. To give it its most stylish look, IWC has stripped the look of the Pilot’s Watch completely down to its core essence. It is beautiful and effortlessly readable, but as I said, simple. The wide diameter dial of this watch is metallic blue with a sunburst finish, with chunky Arabic numerals and a full scale of minute markers. Perfectly sized pilot’s watch hands complete this conservative sports watch look. I can’t see many people not being excited to wear it out, at least from time to time.
Inside the watch is an automatic 82100 movement made by IWC. It operates at 4Hz, has a 60-hour power reserve, and features IWC’s Pellaton high-efficiency automatic rotor winding system. The most interesting technical features of this watch are some of the components produced not from metal but from ceramics. You can spot these ceramic parts visually as they are colored black and can be seen in the movement.
The 82100 caliber also looks particularly good. In addition to various surface treatments such as perlite, the movement bridges and components have been designed with skeletonization in mind. This gives the viewer a deeper, less visual experience of what is happening in the movement. In my opinion, the 82100 is one of the most beautiful modern simple three-hand automatic movements.