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  1. #1
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    Default IWC Big Pilot - A True Aviator's Watch.

    IWC Pilot’s Watches and the history of aviation are inseparably intertwined.

    The company had started using its expertise to develop precision timepieces suitable for use in the cockpits of the world’s first aircraft as early as the 1930s.


    The IWC B-Uhr


    The story of the Big Pilot (die grosse Fliegeruhr) began in World War II when IWC, along with several other well known manufacturers, produced aviator’s watches in accordance with specifications demanded by the German Airforce.






    At the time, pilots relied on oversized pocket watches to track their flight time and fuel consumption, but these pocket watches were cumbersome and difficult to access meaning they frequently worked on guesstimates.

    There were five manufacturers that were contracted to the Luftwaffe to supply them with what was known as the ‘B-Uhr’ (Beobachtungs-Uhren, or observers watch).







    These manufacturers were A. Lange & Söhne, IWC, Laco, Stowa, and Wempe. Features that the B-Uhr watches have in common in accordance with the Luftwaffe specifications are:

    * Cases 55 mm in diameter, marked "FL 23883" (Air Equipment)
    * Large crowns for use with gloves
    * Indirect center seconds
    * Stop ("hack") seconds
    * Breguet balance springs
    * No shock protection


    The reason for such a large watch was that the B-Uhr was meant to be worn over a flight jacket, (they were attached to the arm with long leather straps that fit around the outside of the flying clothing) and the large crown was meant to be operated with flying gloves on.

    The accuracy of these watches had to be unaffected by vibrations, extreme fluctuations of temperature, excess pressure, varying light conditions and magnetic fields.


    IWC attacked the problem by simply taking the pocket watch and designing a version that would fit on the pilot’s wrist over his flight suit. IWC designed a 55mm case with a black dial, high-contrast luminous hands, and a rotating glass bezel. This glass bezel had an arrow which the pilot used to measure flight time. Pilots attached the watch to their wrist using an oversized long leather strap.



    IWC B-Uhr


    The IWC B-Uhr became the largest watch that IWC ever produced. It weighed 183 g, with a case diameter of 55 mm and was powered by a 6mm thick specially modified 52 T – 19’’’ S.C. (Seconde au Centre) hand wound pocket watch movement, numbered 1014091.



    52T Movement


    The movement was completely encapsulated in soft iron, used here for the first time in a wristwatch, yet the IWC B-Uhr was neither water resistant nor shock-proof.


    The IWC Big Pilot

    In 2002, IWC released the Big Pilot, unquestionably as a homage piece to it’s Pilot’s watches of the past, and most obviously, the famous B-Uhr.





    They chose the caliber 5011 movement with 7 day power reserve and date display. This movement is the largest automatic movement in production, and is also used in the Portuguese range. It features the ‘Pawl’ winding mechanism previously developed by Albert Pellaton in Schaffhausen.



    IWC Calibre 5011 Movement


    The movement was extended to include a date display at "6 o'clock" with quick changing in a forward direction and the central seconds hand that is essential for aeronautical use, the drive for which does not lie directly in the power flux of the train.






    IWC also gave consideration to small and important details. On the seventh day of operation of the power reserve or after 165 hours, the date changes three hours before the movement is stopped mechanically, so that the change sequence continues to take place with entire reliability.










    IWC has since replaced the 5011 movement in the Big Pilot and Portuguese range with the 51110 movement which increased the rate from 18,000 vph to 21,600 vph.

    In 2006, IWC replaced the 5002 Big Pilot with the 5004 Big Pilot. The changes are cosmetic. The 5004 Big Pilot replaces the Buffalo Strap with a black leather strap, and updates the dial to look more modern and fit in better with the rest of the updated Pilot's line from IWC.



    (L)Iwc Big Pilot 5002 (R) Iwc Big Pilot 5004


    IWC has also started making different versions of the Big Pilot past the normal steel and platinum version. The newest additions are the ‘Father and Son’ models and the limited edition Big Pilot Perpetual Calendars in titanium and platinum, built in limited editions for IWCs best Authorised Dealers.

    The Big Pilot has become synonymous with aviation and is a true pilot's watch. It's origins were forged in the demanding theatre of Word War II air warfare but these days the Big Pilot is worn by aviators throughout the world and has become a symbol for enduring watchmaking excellence.






    N.

  2. #2


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    I have the 5002 version....and I can tell you it's a great timekeeper...with a fantastic power reserve....my personal one peaked at 5 1/2 days.....a fantastic watch....very impressive on the wrist....!











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  3. #3
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    I think I'm going to get me one next

  4. #4
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    Default

    Thanks Niko. I can't get enough of the Big Pilot these days, would love to see the 5004 accurately repped.

    Awesome photos TTK - thanks.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Meridius View Post
    Thanks Niko. I can't get enough of the Big Pilot these days
    I am the same! That is what got me interested in the background.

    Glad to see that we have some good reps available now.

    TTK's version uses a Asian Valgrange movement. Haven't had a look at this movement yet, but it sounds like it is very good.

    N.

  6. #6
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    Nice review and pictures Niko

    You too Neil

    love the BP
    "It's never too late to be who you might have been"

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  7. #7
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    Default

    well done Guys - the 5002 = WOW.
    Welcome to RepGeek - fun, friendly, flame free and informative.

  8. #8
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    TTK, cant wait to get mine. Been eyeing one and when you listed yours that sealed the deal.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by J-C View Post
    well done Guys - the 5002 = WOW.
    I was keen on the 5004 J-C, but once I looked into the history of the Big Pilot, I decided that the 5002 is the one I would choose.

    N.

  10. #10
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    LOVE pilots watches. Only seen one pilot ever wearing one, Dale Snodgrass, but if I was a pilot, I'd be rockin' one every flight.

  11. #11


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    The Valgrange movement is an excellent movt....I sold a lot of Chopards with this movement.....never a problem.....!


    @ Sylar...sitting here ...packed and ready to go...
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  12. #12
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TTK View Post
    I have the 5002 version....and I can tell you it's a great timekeeper...with a fantastic power reserve....my personal one peaked at 5 1/2 days.....a fantastic watch....very impressive on the wrist....!
    That's a great reserve. Is that the time it takes to stop once left stood still after a full wind? If it is, have they made any mods to the movement to give it that kind of power reseve?

  13. #13
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    Neil - Is that an HE valve on the side of the case? If so, sorta seems out of place on a pilot watch.

    Niko, is this congruent with the gen 5002 and 5004?

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    It's the date pusher....!
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  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by TTK View Post
    It's the date pusher....!
    ahhh. . .ignorance on my part. . .Thanx!

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    I am a new guy to forum. I just love the Big Pilot....Can anyone refer a me to who has the best reps. Thanks.

  18. #17
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    Default

    Great write up Niko! Never noticed it before. I have been seriously considering one myself.
    Check out my section - Jackjo's Watch Crib

    Click here - Hidden Content

    It has all my Reviews and Mods!!!



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  19. #18
    TIME TO GET CUT UP!!!!

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    so which is the most accurate one?????
    I'll be back.
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  20. #19
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    thanks for the info. I will someday get one of these watches...

  21. #20
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    nice review, LOVe the BP

  22. #21
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    Thanks for the pics!

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    Good review,but I can't see the pictures,what a pity!

  24. #23
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    The more I look at them the more I need one or two in my life.

  25. #24
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  26. #25
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    Ya, this is a fantastic watch, my question is how would it look on people with smaller wrists, say 6.5 inches?

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