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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

New Pilot’s watches in ceramic and Ceratanium® took off from IWC Schaffhausen’s TOP GUN collection at Watches and Wonders 2022. The company ventured into the topic of being a pilot and the future of aviation on site and in the digital space. 

IWC has been linked to aviation since the 1930’s, when Hans and Rudolf, the two sons of CEO Ernst Jakob Homberger, pushed their father to develop a proper pilot watch for them. They received their commercial pilot certificates in England and became fighter pilots for Switzerland. Thanks to them, the Big Pilot’s Watch Ref. 431 (52-calibre T.S.C.) was born in 1940. 

The brand’s connection to airspace has remained strong with the highly coveted Mark series and the return of the refreshed Big Pilot’s watch line in 2002, which has gradually grown ever since. IWC has also participated in interesting undertakings such as the ‘Silver Spitfire’ restoration and its flight around the world as well as futuristic adventures like the Airspeeder flying car racing or a special partnership for knowledge sharing on sustainable high-tech development practices with Boom Supersonic.

IWC Signature Talks

After two years of digital-only events, Watches and Wonders ran in a hybrid mode in 2022. Meetings and touch-and-feel sessions were organised for on-site participants, while a number of brands offered dedicated and interactive product presentations online for people joining remotely. Keynote presentations and interesting talks at the IWC Theatre could be attended at the scene or watched live online. 

For IWC, this year’s show was all about the colored TOP GUN novelties and they set all visuals and stories to make their debut interesting and impactful. The Auditorium hosted several IWC Signature Talks circling around the theme from various angles. 

Airspeeder CEO and founder Matt Pearson, and Brian Durrence, Chief Technology Officer at Boom Supersonic shared their views and their efforts in the ‘Future of Mobility‘. Airspeeder kicks off a flying car series to foster the evolution of vertical take-off  vehicles in quick development cycles – just like how Formula 1 cars are perfected from season to season and in-between. Boom Supersonic has been working to create a commercial supersonic airliner with ecological and economic sustainability at the core.

The concept of ‘pilot’ and thus the faces for Big Pilot’s watches have been extended to the racing superheroes Lewis Hamilton in 2013 and Valentino Rossi most recently. In the ‘Being a Pilot’ Signature Talk, seven-time Formula One™ World Champion Lewis Hamilton and nine-time Grand Prix™ motorcycle racing World Champion Valentino Rossi spoke about their first racing moments and their excitement when they changed gears in Valencia, (Spain) for a whole day, they also explained why Moto GP and Formula One drivers respect each other mutually and gave a glimpse into the different perceptions of speed and forces while riding their racing machines and flying with a fighter jet. Hamilton attended the show on-site, while Rossi connected via a video conference from Imola, where he had been preparing for his first race in the GT Challenge Europe 2022 car race with Team WRT Audi.

The third Signature Talk was dedicated to ‘The IWC Colors‘. Christian Knoop, IWC Chief Design Officer, and Carola Seybold, Head of Global Key Accounts at PANTONE® discussed the language of colors, their impact on product design and marketing decisions and how consistency in colors can be achieved across various mediums. The Pantone Color Institute is the business unit within PANTONE® that highlights the top seasonal runway colors, selects the Pantone Color of the Year or forecasts global color trends. Beyond great technical attributes, weaving the colors and the stories around the product have a great importance on the overall desirability of products, including watches. Christian Knoop explained the creative journey leading to the new ceramic colors introduced in this year’s TOP GUN models.

2022 IWC TOP GUN novelties

Being the best of the best means that you can deliver the same high performance under pressure, repeatedly. Therefore, consistency is one of the greatest challenges for pilots, professionals and even watchmaking companies. When IWC inaugurated their new Manufakturzentrum in 2018, CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr highlighted their constant efforts to ensure the excellence of manufacturing processes and with that the highest quality of all product batches. As speakers of the Talk noted: ‘Color is the first thing we see and the first thing we connect to, influencing up to 85% of product purchasing decisions.’ Thus, consistency of colors across watch parts and manufacturing batches are very important, especially for monochromatic items, such as IWC’s ceramic novelties.

Colored ceramics are created in a sophisticated process in which zirconium oxide is mixed with other metallic oxides and sintered at high temperatures in a kiln. Environmental variations such as  temperature or pressure may impact product qualities like color, therefore the consistency of the furnace process is vital for a robust, resistant and appealing end product.

Showcasing their mastery of handling high-tech materials with utmost precision, IWC introduced new colored monochromatic ceramic TOP GUN models this year. All visible parts of these timepieces are carefully designed using the color standards of PANTONE® and produced precisely to the same tone. The five new color ‘moods’ are IWC Woodland (dark forest green), IWC Lake Tahoe (mysterious white), IWC Mojave Desert (earth with beige notes), IWC Ceratanium® (matte black, but not completely dark) and IWC Jet Black (deep matte black).

The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition ‘Woodland’ has a 44.5mm ceramic case with Ceratanium case back and pushers; while the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition ‘Lake Tahoe’ has ceramic case with steel pushers and titanium case back – both encompassing the automatic 4Hz 69380 manufacture calibre. The Woodland is a very appealing dark matte green timepiece with lighter accents shimmering in the dark. The Lake Tahoe is a silky white case with a contrasting black dial and white accents. 1000 pieces will be made of each per anum.

IWC’s Ceratanium case material debuts on the all black 41mm diameter Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 TOP GUN Ceratanium®. IWC describes the new IWC Ceratanium color as ‘tactical black’, meaning that it is a bit greyish and matte. Even the pushers are casted from the same material and color. Together with the mid-grey hands, indexes and numbers they let the greyscale rule the visuals. Inside a variation of the same movement family, calibre 69385. There’s no annual production limit announced on this piece.

The Big Pilot’s Watch collection received two add-ons. The sandy tones introduced on the 2019 chronograph returns on the 46mm Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN ‘Mojave Desert’ (presented in 2021). Beyond time, the watch displays date and what is left from the 168 hours power reserve of the 52110 automatic calibre. IWC produces 250 pieces annually. IWC came out with the 43mm Big Pilot’s Watch last year and in 2022 they presented a black ceramic version, called Big Pilot’s Watch 43 TOP GUN . The color of the case is ‘Jet black’ and the dial is deep black with white accents and a red TOP GUN mark. Inside is the 4Hz automatic 60 power reserve calibre 82100, just like in last year’s steel model. No annual production limit has been announced.

IWC Big Pilot Watch
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 TOP GUN Jet Black

Beyond novelties, IWC Schaffhausen announced a new customer experience linked to these models. The company entered Web3 with a metaverse environment for its community, called the IWC Diamond Hand Club. With the1868 NFT membership tokens (in reference to IWC’s founding year) distributed during the Watches and Wonders and those received by customers after the purchase of the newly announced colored Pilot’s Watches, NFT owners can enter the IWC Diamond Hand Club on the spatial.io metaverse. IWC’s environment, designed by architect Hani Rashid, is a bespoke, digital version of its physical high-tech shipping container-style booth at Watches and Wonders. It also features other unique worlds, representing the watchmaker’s new ceramic colors, like ‘IWC Mojave Desert’, ‘IWC Woodland’ and ‘IWC Lake Tahoe’. Devised as the gateway to all of IWC’s future web3 initiatives, the IWC Diamond Hand Club will grow as more worlds and features are added, and new collectible tokens are distributed at select occasions.

IWC booth at Watches and Wonders 2022

In order to let colors captivate even more senses, IWC Schaffhausen approached  the two-time Academy Award winner, three-times Golden Globe and Grammy winner Hans Zimmer for an interesting collaboration. Christoph Grainger-Herr commissioned the composer to immerse into the new color universe PANTONE created for IWC and imagine a musical piece for each mood. Hans Zimmer not only rose the challenge, but also popped by with his band on tour in Geneva during the Watches and Wonders. He conducted the debut performance of the suite at a private concert at the Théâtre du Léman in Geneva and played a selection of his most influential works for an almost two hours. 

Photo credits: IWC Schaffhausen. Loupiosity.com
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