At IWC, one of the most emblematic collections is, without doubt, the so-called Flieger or Pilot’s Watch. Inspired by the past of the brand, when IWC was delivering robust observation watches to military forces, they are some of the most revered watches for pilots of the industry. But when you think of pilots, even for IWC, you might have in mind a flight instrument. Yet, IWC also uses this name for another kind of pilots… Think Hamilton, think technical objects, think motorsport. This is what this new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “IWC Racing” IW590501 tends to demonstrate.
Motor racing, and Formula 1 in particular, is a world of cutting-edge technology and innovative materials, where precision and reliability are keys to success. It’s a world that always looks at the future, where the past is only synonymous with lower performance. For this reason, the Big Pilot Edition “IWC Racing” gets rid of all the elements that might draw the attention to vintage flight instruments and becomes ultra-dynamic, blacked-out… almost futuristic.
As such, the brand has decided to give this watch a case made of its latest material; Ceratanium. Still measuring 46.2mm in diameter (the classic size of the BP), the case, the signature conical crown and the pin buckle are all made of Ceratanium, which is an IWC-developed material. It is light and robust like titanium but also similarly hard and scratch-resistant like ceramic. During the first step of the manufacturing process, the components are machined with maximum precision from a proprietary titanium alloy. Afterwards, they are fired at very high temperatures in a kiln. It is during this furnacing process that a phase transformation takes place, and the surface of the material assumes properties similar to those of ceramic.
To match with this advanced material, the dial receives a whole new design. Executed in matte black, it receives newly designed Arabic numerals, thinner than normal, filled with SLN and outlined in black, as well as multiple yellow accents to recall a sports/racing car dashboard. Also, the power reserve indicator at 4 o’clock, which indicate the remaining energy in hours or in days, is reminiscent of a tachymetric gauge. Finally, the dial of the Edition “IWC Racing” IW590501 gets a new pattern, with a louvred, ring-shaped structure of the outer dial ring that takes inspiration from the cold air intakes of a high-performance engine. The final racing touch is given by the black rubber strap with an inlay made of Alcantara, often used for the seats and steering wheel covers of performance cars.
But what really matters here is the movement… And IWC has given this Edition “IWC Racing” IW590501 one of its most performant engines. The calibre 94800, designed and manufactured in-house, is a large hand-wound movement that comes with a tourbillon regulator, but mostly with a constant-force mechanism. On one side, the tourbillon compensates for the negative influences of gravity on the oscillating system. In addition, the constant-force mechanism disengages the escapement from the direct flow of power through the wheel train and transmits completely even impulses of energy to the escape wheel. This will negate the effects of the decreasing tension in the mainspring, which is known to influence the amplitude of the regulator.
The principle of this patented mechanism is integrated into the tourbillon cage and acts as an additional escapement between the escapement and the fourth wheel. “Every second, this winds a small spring that serves as a temporary storage space and keeps the escape wheel supplied with sufficient energy to keep the balance moving. The trick is simple: the angle by which the additional balance spring is wound every second remains the same, which in turn means that the energy supplied to the escapement also remains constant. Even when the tension in the mainspring decreases, the balance continues to oscillate with virtually the same amplitude,” explains IWC. As a result, the tourbillon cage advances once every second, acting as a seconde-morte mechanism.
The rest of the movement includes a twin-barrel architecture, providing 96 hours or 4 days of power reserve, a one-minute tourbillon running at 2.5Hz and a moon phase display for both northern and southern hemispheres. The caseback reveals a blacked-out decoration with matte finished bridges.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “IWC Racing” IW590501 will be a limited edition of 15 pieces only, priced at CHF 220,000. More details at iwc.com.