Known for their most elegant Big Pilot series of “aviators”, IWC has presented yet another limited edition of the popular line. The Blue Big Pilot (refs. IW500428 & IW500429), as you already may have guessed, will be available in two versions with the former being targeted at residents of Los Angeles, California and the latter addressing the needs of the population of the great city of Las Vegas, Nevada. Sporting an interesting blue-on-black color scheme, the huge “pilots” will soon be available in select stores of the informal capitals of California and Nevada.
Just like all currently available Big Pilots, the new limited edition model will be powered by IWC’s Calibre 51111 automatic movement, which is said to be one of the largest self-winding calibers in the world.
Being a slightly modified version of an even older Calibre 50000 movement that, as far as I remember traces its roots to old calibers that powered pocket watches of early 20th century with an addition of a modern automatic winding system, the mechanism’s huge mainspring (together with relatively slow cadence of balance that is set at just 21,600 semi-oscillations per hour) is capable of storing enough energy to run for as long as 200 hours.
However, as the long mainspring unwinds, it sends less and less energy to the balance wheel. Apparently, at some point the power curve takes a steep nosedive and, to keep the mechanism as accurate as practically possible, IWC’s engineers decided to make it automatically stop after precisely 168 hours, or seven days.
Like the rest of the gang, the Blue Big Pilot will come in a fairly large 46.2mm x 15.8mm stainless steel case. Besides providing the timepiece with an undeniable sense of presence, this brilliantly finished huge steel case also hides an extra soft iron safety cage that greatly increases its antimagnetic properties. Of course, its iconic chunky diamond-shaped winding crown is in its usual place ready to dig into the back of your hand.
My main complaint about this particular model is its color scheme. While the rest of the family features incredibly high-legible, high-contrast black-and-white dial layout, the Blue Big Pilot comes with all its indices and numerals painted in bright-blue SuperLuminova. Although the Blue Big Pilot will undoubtedly provide a superb reading in dark conditions, I am not so sure about other times and places.
Another problem with this watch is that IWC decided not to tinker with the color of the calendar wheel, leaving it a standard white-on-black combination. Thankfully, this minor annoyance is partly balanced with a white-colored arrow on the power reserve indicator located, as usual, at 3 o’clock.
Limited at just 50 examples, the IWC Blue Big Pilot Limited Edition will be sold only in a couple of boutiques in Beverly Hills, California and Las Vegas, Nevada. Each piece will reportedly feature a “One out of Fifty” wording engraved on its side. Duh!
Photos: IWC / IWC Forum
IWC Blue Big Pilot 7 Days Power Reserve (refs. IW500428 & IW500429) specification
Movement: IWC Calibre 51111, automatic, in-house, 42 jewels, 21,600 vph, Swiss Made
Functions & Complications: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock
Power reserve: 168 hours / 7 days
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 46.20 mm
Case height: 15.80 mm
Dial: Black and blue
Hands: Steel, luminous
Water resistance: 60 meters
Strap: Riveted black leather strap with blue stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Back: Solid stainless steel for better antimagnetic properties