In 2008, IWC released a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it limited edition Big Pilot’s Watch named after its current associate director of watch and movement assembly, Markus Buhler. Featuring a small aircraft turbine as its small seconds indicator, the 12-piece limited edition was a cult hit among the more dedicated collectors.
But now it’s returned in a more luxurious guise as the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Buhler, boasting an in-house movement instead of a modified Unitas, a 43mm case replacing the former 46.2mm steel one, and the turbine acting as a cage for a one-minute flying tourbillon.
How it works
When a tourbillon is involved, weight reduction is a big priority because the heavier and harder it is to move, the more energy it needs. Which is why the 12 turbine blades have been crafted from a titanium alloy and used as the upper part of the tourbillon cage, replacing the regulator. The hairspring is also attached to the underside of one of the blades to allow the watchmaker to make adjustments to the balance. A red dot on one blade serves as the indicator for the seconds.
Why it matters
Even ignoring the fact that there is no other Big Pilot’s Watch like it in the current collection, the watch’s backstory alone makes for excellent collectability fodder. The 2008 model was based on a competition piece Buhler — then still an apprentice — had developed and entered into the Prix IFHH de l’Horlogerie (now Concours IHC) 20 years ago. It won the first prize.
Now in his current role, Buhler has been able to oversee the rebirth of his first creation a second time, and with more to go around, 51 pieces have been produced.
Automatic in-house calibre 82905 with flying minute tourbillon
43mm x 14.6mm in platinum
125,000 Swiss francs ($192,164)