IWC’s Big Pilot collection represents the technical expertise and pioneering spirit that the brand has gained through years of producing professional instruments for the cockpit.

The functional design, combined with years of perfected engineering, has led the Big Pilot’s watch to gain its status as cultural icon, being admired by adventurers and watch enthusiasts alike. No other model by IWC is as well-known or instantly recognisable as the Big Pilot’s watch.

Building the Legacy

The story began under the guidance of then-director, Günter Blümlein, around 2000. The IWC team worked to develop and perfect a ground-breaking new timepiece for pilots on the project named “Big Pilot’s Watch – Mark XXI”. This watch, while pioneering in its design and technology, is also a nod to the company’s heritage in the production of reliable and robust timepieces for the cockpit.

IWC 329301

In April 2002, IWC released the Big Pilot’s Watch Ref. 5002. Everything about this model was larger than life, with a 46.2 mm dial, 5001 calibre, central seconds and pocket watch dimensions. Albert Pellaton’s ingenious self-winding system was reintroduced for the 5000-calibre collections – marking the first time an IWC automatic movement also came with a seven-day power reserve. The Big Pilot’s watch draws inspiration from previous models to create the ultimate timepiece for pilots. The easy-to-read dial and oversized crown are among the most iconic features of the Big Pilot collection, allowing for legibility and easy winding of the crown even when wearing padded flight gloves.

Tool Watch to Cultural Icon

Big Pilot's movement  Big Pilot's movement

The inspiration for the uncompromisingly functional design – in the style of an easy-to-read cockpit instrument – came from the Big Pilot’s Watch Calibre 52 T.S.C. With its 55-millimetre diameter, this military observation watch was unveiled in 1940 and is still the largest wristwatch ever made by IWC. The collection has grown throughout the years but always remained true to its utilitarian design, evolving from “tool watch” to cultural icon.


IWC Big Pilot Container Roadshow

IWC Big Pilot's container

IWC celebrates the Big Pilot with the first ever roadshow event carried out by the brand, touring across key locations to bring the collection to a brand-new demographic. The Edinburgh stop, set to hit Castle Street this week, will immerse you in the world of IWC to discover the iconic collections and renowned timepieces the brand has to offer.


Shop the IWC Pilot Collection online with Laings



Thank you for taking the time to read about IWC’s Big Pilot collection. Follow our latest news on TwitterFacebookInstagram and YouTube.