Hamish Robertson, Nov 12 2021

The IWC Big Pilot Pop-Up - an easy way to learn about watches

The IWC Big Pilot Pop-Up - an easy way to learn about watches

This week the CEO and Co-Founder of The Watch Collectors' Club was lucky enough to go along to the IWC Watches Big Pilot marketing pop-up in London. These kinds of watch display are the perfect place to go and learn more about watches.

The IWC Big Pilot Magazine produced for the Pop-up

The IWC Big Pilot Magazine produced for the Pop-up

What to expect at a watch brand pop-up?

These pop-up events are brilliant for learning more about a watch. They not only had every model in the current range on display but also had supporting cases with various models. There was an “exploded watch”, allowing you to see all the parts that go into making a modern mechanical timepiece. There was an excellent display of case materials, and it was great fun to pick up the cylinders made from each to compare the weights and finishes. There were movement explanations and also some history panels. The staff were informative and overall the experience was designed to help people understand more about the IWC Pilot watches.

IWC Big Pilot History

IWC are famous for high-quality Swiss watches, with clear design cues, and their range of Pilots watches comes from a distinct heritage. The IWC Big Pilot is an extraordinary watch simply because of it's size, which is directly linked to their first Big watch. In the 1940s, the Big Pilot's Watch Calibre 52 was developed, measuring a mighty 55mm across and 16.5mm high. This is pocket watch sized but was designed to be firmly strapped on to pilot's wrists. It also included the famous oversized crown, which is shaped like a brilliant-cut diamond, and designed to be usable when wearing gloves. Pilots had to wear gloves for decades before heated cockpits became standard. The Crown also features deep grooves to help with grip.

After the second world war, IWC continued to make watches for Air Forces across the globe. Many of these watches are highly collectable today and feature the clear dials and numerals and large hands we see on the Big Pilot.

The Big Pilot Big Crown for use while wearing gloves

The Big Pilot Big Crown for use while wearing gloves

IWC Pilot updates and Top Gun

In 1992 IWC relaunched a Pilot chronograph, or stopwatch, and followed this with the first ceramic case Pilot's watch in 1994. This used a revolutionary black zirconium oxide material. In the late 1990s, IWC was seeing success with their Perpetual Calendar movement. This is a mechanical movement that can accurately tell the date for centuries to come, including leap years. It is often seen as the pinnacle of watchmaking. They decided to relaunch the Big Pilot with this special edition movement, and to make it fit for a pilot's watch had to work hard to make it robust and reliable. They launched in 2002, but it was a very low key affair. It was tremendously successful and they experimented with many special editions, design ideas and case materials.

IWC Double Chronograph from 1994

IWC Double Chronograph from 1994

The range today contains Pilot watches of different kinds, and also Big Pilot watches. the latest release is in 43mm diameter, providing a big but not-too-big option for fans of the brand. Here are a selection of the watches at the Big Pilot Pop-up in London.

IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert Perpetual Chronograph

IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert Perpetual Chronograph

IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert Caseback and Strap

IWC Big Pilot Mojave Desert Caseback and Strap

IWC Big Pilot Chronograph "Blue Angels"

IWC Big Pilot Chronograph "Blue Angels"

IWC Spitfire Pilot Watch

IWC Spitfire Pilot Watch

IWC Pilot "Top Gun"

IWC Pilot "Top Gun"

Watch Events and Pop-ups

It can sometimes feel difficult to visit a watch boutique or be hard to know where to go to learn more, so watch events can be the perfect place to go. Keep an eye out for them on social media or if you are visiting big city centres. Large brands often try innovative pop-ups about their most famous watches. It is also possible to go to watch Meetups and Showcases, such as those held by The Watch Collectors' Club. While we will have a larger variety of watches, we also have educational materials and a friendly approach. It is always easier to have your questions answered in person, so make sure you look out for events when they are on.

Conclusion

We are building The Watch Collectors' Club to run fun and informative events for watch lovers. Sometimes the watch brands also provide fantastic resources to learn more about their timepieces, and this week's Big Pilot event in London was a great example. We encourage you to keep an eye out for these chances to dive deep into any range of watches. There is always a chance you will be very pleasantly surprised. The watches we saw this week were exceptional.

If you're interested in The Watch Collectors' Club events, then check out our page here. If you like this email, please forward it to anyone who might be interested, and tell them to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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Make the watch world simple

Make the watch world simple