Arguably one of the longest novelty-lists of the SIHH 2019 line up belongs to IWC. 14 watches, all various pilot’s models. All of them come from the four collections in the IWC’s Pilot’s family.
These are the Spitfire, TOP GUN, Le Petit Prince and Antoine De Saint-Exupéry. From time-only pieces to chronographs all the way up to tourbillons and perpetual calendars. Before the Geneva show, I already took a look at the Spitfire and TOP GUN models (here). Later Robert-Jan went hands-on with the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince”. Today we will be talking about a watch coming from the TOP GUN collection. This piece is a blend of two things. We know the model already but this time it comes with a twist. I’m talking about the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”.
The TOP GUN collection is part of IWC’s Pilot family for 12 years now. It was 2007 when the brand and the U.S. Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program went into collaboration, which resulted in the first TOP GUN models. Through this 12-year period, many different variants came out with the main common feature being the black case of the watches. The dials might have been deep dark or matte black with different colors on the indexes, but this “special” case color always remained. It added to the TOP GUN feel, making the timepieces look more military-grade-esque. To continue this path in 2019 the designers in Schaffhausen put a great emphasis on the TOP GUN models’ case materials. Ceratanium for the Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph TOP GUN Ceratanium and a sand-color ceramic case for the “Mojave Desert” edition. A case color that’s something IWC has not done before.
Ceratanium is not a new material for IWC. The brand already used this alloy with their Aquatimer 50 years edition back in 2017. Ceratanium is light and strong just like titanium but scratch resistant and hard like ceramic. The perfect blend of two already great materials, one would say. This year was the first time a TOP GUN watch came out with a Ceratanium case. That timepiece was the top of the line being a double chronograph. However, IWC had something special for the “ordinary” chronographs’ version as well. Both cases made of ceramic, one in black as you’d expect and one in sand color. According to the brand the inspiration for this tone coming from the Mojave Desert, hence the name, home of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. This is the largest land area of the U.S. Navy.
Other than the color of the ceramic case both watches are identical. Size-wise we are looking at a whopping 44.5mm case that is 15.7mm thick. At first glance, the case looks like it’s made if plastic. Like what model cars are made of, before painting. It’s even and matte. This is fortunately very far from the truth. The ceramic case is sturdy and light. If you touch it, you realize that this material is not plastic at all. The screw-down crown and pusher are obviously not made of ceramic breaking the monotonousness of the sand color. The “Mojave Desert’s” case back is titanium with the usual information on it. You can find the water resistance (6 bars) the model name and the limited-edition number – the watch comes in only 500 pieces. In the center of the case, you have the logo of the U.S. Navy Fighter Weapons School.
When it comes to the dial, the IWC TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” doesn’t offer anything extraordinary. Other than an easily readable, Flieger-type face in dark brown color. Large and thick indexes and numerals at every hour (other than 3-6-9-12) and the usual triangle with the 2 dots at 12. All of them have Super-LumiNova cover in a beige color that harmonies with the color scheme of the “Mojave Desert”. Due to the size of the watch the dial hence the good readability. The hands are also huge, sword-type. They have the same luminous coating. Their color is brown as well, to match the rest of the watch. You can find the day-date window at 3 o’clock and the chronograph subdials as well as the running seconds’ dial at 6-9-12. The brand and model name, IWC Schaffhausen TOP GUN, are above and below the day-date aperture at 3 o’clock.
The movement running inside the IWC TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” is the brand’s manufacture caliber 69380. You find the same one in the black TOP GUN version (I told you they’re identical) as well as in some of the Spitfire Bronze or Steel models or the Ingenieur Chronograph. What we’re talking about is a self-winding, 33-jewel movement with 46 hours (sometimes IWC states that it’s 48 hours) of power reserve and 28,800 Vph. The 69380 is the version within the 69-caliber series that has the day-date feature other than being a chronograph of course. What’s worth mentioning is that the caliber has a hacking function. Meaning that when you pull the crown out the second’s hand stop running, allowing you to set the watch down to the exact seconds. It’s a reliable caliber that is rather sturdy and used widely in various IWC models as said above.
One thing that I have not mentioned above when I talked about the case is that the IWC TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” has a soft-iron inner case that should protect it against magnetic fields as well. As a true pilots’ tool watch, this function comes useful in the cockpit. As well as the fact the crystal is secured against displacement in the event of a sudden pressure drop. The strap that the watch comes on is comfortable (albeit it doesn’t look like that) sand colored nylon with soft leather inlay and deployant clasp. One would have to pay €9.250,= to get an IWC IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”. Just as a comparison, the Swiss retail of the TOP GUN “Mojave Desert” is CHF8,900.= Swiss Francs while the time only TOP GUN Automatic is CHF6,100.= Swiss Francs. Not much difference in price, a lot in watches.
You can visit IWC’s website here for more information.
Balázs joined Fratello Watches in 2014 and he has been a fan of watches as long as he can remember. His passion for watches really took off in 2007 when he purchased his first fine Swiss timepiece. From 2007 up... read more