Probably no other timepiece from IWC Schaffhausen’s Pilot’s Watches collection has achieved such a cult status among collectors as the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler from 2008. It was inspired by a unique piece Markus Bühler had created for a competition in the final year of his watchmaker apprenticeship at IWC. Its most striking visual feature was the aircraft turbine in the small seconds.

Fifteen years later, IWC presents an exclusive new interpretation. Like its predecessor, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler (Ref. IW329901) features a small turbine on the dial. However, the characteristic aircraft engine has been integrated into a flying minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock this time.

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    In a tourbillon, the balance and escapement are housed in a small cage that rotates around its axis once per minute. The higher its mass and inertia, the more energy it takes to keep the mechanism in motion. Weight reduction is, therefore, the primary focus of any tourbillon construction. For this reason, the turbine was machined from a lightweight titanium alloy.

    Due to the complex geometry and the small dimensions, the milling process alone took several hours. After machining, each of the twelve minuscule blades was polished by hand and finished to an incredibly high level of detail and aesthetic perfection.

    IW329901 Detail 2
    IW329901 Detail

    To avoid the turbine adding additional weight to the mechanism, Bühler used it as the upper part of the tourbillon cage, replacing the regulator. As a result, the eye-catcher on the dial also has a technical function: the hairspring attaches to the underside of one of its blades, and the watchmaker can adjust the zero crossing of the balance by turning the turbine.

    The state-of-the-art tourbillon consists of 56 parts and weighs only 0.663 grammes. The pallet lever and the escape wheel were treated with Diamond Shell® technology, a special coating that reduces friction and improves the energy flow in the movement.

    IW5003 2

    The 43 mm case and the crown are crafted from platinum. Platinum is among the rarest, purest, and most precious metals used for watches and jewellery. The case has been elaborately finished by hand, with polished surfaces around the bezel and the horns. Thanks to this finishing, the whitish shimmer of the platinum is accentuated beautifully, giving the timepiece a refined, sophisticated appearance.

    The black lacquered, glossy dial has been imprinted with white numerals and features applied indices filled with Super-LumiNova®. A black Cordovan leather strap with Markus Bühler’s signature printed on the inner side complements the design.

    IW329901 Front

    Powering this Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is the IWC-manufactured 82905 calibre. Its Pellaton winding system has been reinforced with ceramic components and builds up a power reserve of 80 hours in the mainspring. The plates, bridges, and rotor, visible through the sapphire case back, were blackened with a PVD coating, then laser-engraved and finally rhodium-plated in the engraved areas.

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