Few other timepieces in IWC Replica Pilot’s Watches collection have attained the level of cult status achieved by the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler from 2008. Originating from a unique piece crafted by the company’s associate director of watch and movement assembly, Markus Bühler, during a competition in the concluding year of his watchmaking apprenticeship at the Schaffhausen-based brand, the model notably featured a device inspired by an aircraft turbine on the small seconds.
Now, fifteen years later, IWC introduces an exclusive re-interpretation, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler (Ref. IW329901). Similar to its forerunner, this watch showcases a small turbine on the dial. However, this time, the distinctive aircraft engine has been seamlessly incorporated into a flying minute tourbillon, which is crafted from a lightweight titanium alloy positioned at 6 o’clock.
Due to the complex geometry and the small dimensions, the milling process alone takes several hours. After machining, each of the twelve minuscule blades are polished by hand and finished to a high level of detail and aesthetic perfection. 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 grams. 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.
The 43mm case and the crown are crafted from platinum. Water resistant to 100 meters, it has been elaborately finished by hand with polished surfaces around the bezel and the horns. 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.
Powering this Big Pilot’s Watch 43 is the IWC-manufactured 82905 caliber. 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 the rotor, visible through the sapphire case back, were blackened with a PVD coating, then laser-engraved and finally rhodium-plated in the engraved areas.
When I created my Big Pilot’s Replica Watches with a turbine as an apprentice watchmaker, I would never have imagined I would lead the development of a second edition 15 years later – let alone that I would be responsible for all assembly processes at IWC. To meet the high expectations of our collectors, we decided to create something truly exclusive and integrate the signature turbine into a tourbillon. This new edition perfectly embodies IWC’s engineering spirit while showcasing highest levels of detail and craftsmanship”, explains Markus Bühler,