Time-Lapse of an Icon

For many, it is the model series par excellence: the “Pilot’s” family by IWC combines striking elegance with a spirit of adventure – and yet has undergone astonishing changes in its nine decades.


IWC made a name for itself as a manufacturer of high-precision quality pocket watches. One of the first known wristwatches from Schaffhausen is a small ladies’ watch from 1899. IWC launches the first “Pilot’s” in 1936 and the first “Portugieser” in 1939. 1967 sees the birth of the “Aquatimer”, and the “Da Vinci” is produced from 1969 on. The “Ingenieur” has actually been around since 1955, but in 1976 it is completely redesigned – by legendary watch designer Gérald Genta. In 1978, the first wristwatch with an integrated compass is created in collaboration with Studio F.A. Porsche. The “Portofino” is launched in 1984.

IWC has been part of the Swiss luxury goods group Richemont since 2000 and opened its in-house museum in 2007. Today, IWC employs around 1250 people.

IWC Florentine Ariosto Jones

The International Watch Company (IWC) was founded in 1868 by American watchmaking pioneer Florentine Ariosto Jones: Schaffhausen offered him favourable production conditions, skilled workers and the hydropower of the Rhine, to enable the manufacture of quality pocket watches for the American market


IWC’s very first pilot’s watch, the Special Pilot’s Watch (Ref. 436), features shatterproof glass, a rotating bezel with an index for recording short periods of time, an anti-magnetic escapement and high-contrast luminous hands and numerals.

IWC «Pilot’s» 1936
IWC «Pilot’s» 1940


The high-precision Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. 431) is developed for the German Luftwaffe. At 55 millimetres in diameter, the largest IWC wristwatch comes with a pocket watch calibre. The extra-long strap with a double loop and buckle allows the watch to be worn over an aviator suit where it is easy to see.


IWC equips the British Royal Air Force – with the legendary Mark 11. As anti-magnetic materials of the time are susceptible to abrasion, IWC develops the soft iron cage, which protects the movement from magnetic fields of up to 80,000 A/m (amperes per metre). Each watch is tested for 648 hours before delivery.

IWC «Pilot’s» 1948
IWC «Pilot’s» 1988


The big revival of the pilot’s watch is imminent: IWC presents the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Quartz (Ref. 3740) on board a Junkers Ju-52. It draws its visual inspiration from the Mark 11; the quartz movement is accompanied by a mechanical chronograph movement.


IWC is the first brand to build a split-seconds chronograph with an automatic movement in a wristwatch: the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph (Ref. 3711) features an extremely delicate module that allows the user to mechanically measure two times simultaneously or an unlimited number of intermediate times.

IWC «Pilot’s» 1992
IWC «Pilot’s» 1994


Modern supersonic aircraft make travel an essential part of a flamboyant lifestyle. The Pilot’s Watch Mark XII (Ref. IW324102) with automatic movement and date display captures the spirit of the times.

With the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Ceramic (Ref. 3705) all in black, IWC created one of its most sought-after models: 1000 of the “Black Flieger” with its almost indestructible case made of high-tech ceramic are produced. One reached USD 43,000 at auction.


IWC responds to increasing globalisation: on the Pilot’s Watch UTC (Ref. 3251), time and date jumps can be switched via the crown. The ingenious coordination of the hand movement is a particularly welcome feature for travellers who switch continents and time zones.

IWC «Pilot’s» 1998
IWC «Pilot’s» 2002


The design of the Big Pilot’s Watch (Ref. IW5002) is one of the most iconic in watch history. The clear design of the cockpit instruments and the oversized 46.2-millimetre case make a statement that is as bold as it is provocative.


If you look at the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire Automatic (Ref. IW370626) from an oblique angle, you can really appreciate the three-dimensional depth of the dial: the Spitfire pays homage to the famous 1940s fighter aircraft; the numerals and indices are riveted to the dial and grouped around a raised embossing.

IWC «Pilot’s» 2003
IWC «Pilot’s» 2007


With the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Edition Top Gun (Ref. IW379901), IWC launches a third category of pilot’s watches – the Top Gun. Its most recognisable feature is the case in black zirconium oxide ceramic: it feels silky to the touch and doesn’t get cold in winter. It is also virtually impervious to wear and tear.


The Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun (IW502902) is the first non-limited- edition IWC pilot’s model with a perpetual calendar. With a diameter of 48.6 millimetres, it combines sub-dials for the perpetual calendar with date, month, day of the week and in the series of special editions in honour of Antoine de Saint Exupéry,the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition Antoine de Saint Exupéry (Ref. IW387805) stands out – thanks to its elaborate surface finish and the 89361 calibre, a masterpiece of chronograph technology.

IWC «Pilot’s» 2012
IWC «Pilot’s» 2016


The Big Pilot’s Watch Annual Calendar Edition “Le Petit Prince” (Ref. IW502701) displays the month, date and day of the week in separate windows. On the back, you can see the Little Prince standing on the oscillating weight and looking at the sky.

The IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph (Ref. IW395001) is the first mechanical watch that can be set to a different time zone with a single turn of the bezel. The bezel is set to the desired time zone; all displays rotate automatically.


The Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium (Ref. IW371815) is the first pilot’s watch made from Ceratanium, a material developed by IWC. It is as light and break-resistant as titanium, but at the same time as hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic.

IWC «Pilot’s» 2019
IWC «Pilot’s» 2021


Finally, the icon is also available for narrower wrists: the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 (Ref. IW329301) combines the famous design with the finest movement technology and an ergonomic case diameter of 43 millimetres.


A power pack chock full of innovation makes headlines: the new Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Top Gun (Ref. 329801) with a “small” 43-millimetre Ceratanium case in white, dark green and black. The watches are powered by the IWC-manufactured 82100 calibre. Its Pellaton winding system with components made of virtually wearfree ceramic builds up a power reserve of 60 hours. A soft-iron inner case protects the movement from magnetic fields. The case is water-resistant to 10 bar, the front crystal secured to stay in place even if air pressure drops suddenly.

IWC «Pilot’s» 2022


The successful collaboration between IWC and Beyer began 135 years ago: the Chronometrie in Zurich is the oldest surviving sales outlet of the Schaffhausen manufacturer. As geographical neighbours, we stick together!

IWC Schaffhausen Ikonen


There are many fascinating IWC models: the beyond team reveals its favourites:

1 RENÉ BEYER, Owner:
“My favourite IWC is of course the Portugieser Automatic,,which we got for our big anniversary in 2010: ‘Beyer 250 years’ is engraved on the oscillating weight. The model captures the look-and-feel of the legendary Portugieser original from the 1930s.”

2 PHILIPPE MEYER, Head of Marketing:
I was given this 2009 Portugieser Chronograph for my fortieth birthday. I can wear it with a suit or with a T-shirt, and besides being so very elegant, I find it also has a mystical touch.”

“If I could pick an IWC, I would browse through Beyer Pre-Loved. And grab this IWC Ingenieur pocket watch designed by Gérald Genta in 1992.”

“Is there a more beautiful colour than bronze? And is there any cooler combination than with the blue of a pair of slightly washed-out dark jeans? At 41 millimetres diameter, the new IWC Pilot’s Chronograph 41 with its in-house movement is perfect for my wrist

Beyer Chronometrie