“Necessity is the mother of invention“- at least that’s what my old history teacher was telling me when he talked about the wealth of inventions created during the second world war. There was one invention though which he failed to mention, one which proved instrumental for the design language of the watch industry. The year was 1940, and IWC introduced its first big pilot watch.
The original IWC Big Pilot from the 1940s
Over 70 years later, the once simple concept has evolved into the IWC Pilot’s Double Chronograph Top Gun Edition. While not as big as its original predecessor, it is still a fairly large watch at 46 mm. A ceramic case and a titanium case back, however, prevent the watch from feeling too clunky, providing the size and legibility the range is known for.
Sporting a Top Gun titanium caseback and jets at the end of the second counter
The most astonishing feature of the watch is its split second chronograph with a flyback function. This means that you can time different events that begin but do not end together, due to the two-second hands which are underneath each other. Also that you can reset the chronograph without needing to stop it first. This puts it into a horological class, which only the most knowledgeable of watch brands have managed to enter.
Here you can see the split-second chronograph in action
Design wise the DNA has been kept intact. A matte black dial which melds into the ceramic case provides ample contrast against the white hands and indexes. Owing to its reference to the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (STFI programme) is a red jet at the bottom of the second hand as well as the logo on the side of the case and the back.
Tom Cruise approves this watch
The STFI programme is better known as Topgun and is the famous US army school for jet pilots, which was the setting for the namesake cult movie from the 1980s. The movie alone was responsible for 500% rise in an inscription in the Naval aviator’s school. More than that though the movie set a new standard for masculinity, creating lasting idols for an entire generation of young men.
An original STFI Badge
The IWC Pilot’s Double Chronograph is the results of over 70 years of development. What’s changed is the technological makeup, what’s remained is the design that made it iconic.