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IWC Pilot’s Chronograph TOP GUN IW389101 Review

The sequel to the 1986 Hollywood movie TOP GUN, “TOP GUN 2: Maverick” has been long anticipated, and to mark the occasion aptly, IWC Schaffhausen has released the sleek matte black ceramic reference IW389101 model. Clothed in black and white design codes, the watch screams legibility. It’s also joined by a sand-coloured version – the “Mojave Desert”, both models boasting a design geared towards the elite among US Navy jet pilots.

Compared to older models, there are some modifications to this IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN reference IW389101. A simplified date accompanies the IWC Schaffhausen lettering at 3 o’clock and looks seemingly balanced against the trio of chronograph dials placed at 12, 6 and 9 o’clock against the watch’s dramatic black dial. TOP GUN watches from IWC continue the company’s military aviation wristwatch collection, saddling alongside icons such as the Big Pilot’s watch and the Chronograph Spitfire models in steel and bronze. Over the years the Maison has experimented with different materials – this most recent exuding a stealthy, utilitarian aesthetic. The TOP GUN watch series, which landed in 2017, was inspired by the US Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program utilised by Navy pilots. The matt black ceramic IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN model is an extension to this series – elements like its red-coated small seconds sub-counter hand adding a pop of colour to the dial.


Fans of black-coated cases will appreciate the lengths that IWC Schaffhausen has gone to in order to balance contemporary appeal with traditional watchmaking ethics. One thing that fans love about the watch is its action-ready stance, imbued with a rugged masculine shape and size.  The matt black case looks a little simpler than stainless steel bodywork, due to current limitations in machining ceramic cases. That said, its titanium crown and chronograph pushers are beautifully detailed and easy to grip under pilot’s gloves. The deep shade of the case contrasts beautifully with white Arabic numerals placed around the hour track and the distinct 12 o’clock marker represented in a triangle. Thanks to a well-balanced dial and a clear anti-glare sapphire glass lens, the time is available for referencing come day or night. Pilot students at the U.S. Navy’s fighter plane weapons school will undoubtedly relish the chance to wear one of these impeccable aviation tools.


One of the most appealing features of this IWC Pilot’s Chronograph TOP GUN watch is its in-house engine which lies at the heart of a 60-meter water-resistant case. Suffice to say this watch has little aquatic aspirations but since the tool is designed for soaring hundreds of feet up in the air, exploring underwater depths no doubt requires something more substantial like the IWC Aquatimer. Apart from its stopwatch function, the 69380 Calibre also provides the day and date (as mentioned earlier), a hacking seconds facility, and a 46-hour power reserve. The feature comes in handy for those occasions where you may want to alternate the watch with another IWC favourite from your collection.


The fact that IWC Schaffhausen has chosen a ceramic material for the case of this TOP GUN watch makes it particularly scratch-resistant, corrosion-resistant and light enough for wearing for long periods on the wrist. It makes the pilot’s watch look slightly futuristic, especially when paired with its black textile strap. Supersonic jets like the F/A-18 are often subject to high g forces, humid conditions and extreme temperature drops, which is where a watch case such as this will come in handy. If you’re planning on wearing the timepiece every day of the week, its versatile and classic colour will pretty much compliment anything you have in your wardrobe.


In terms of investment, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN promises to hold its value well. The line of three-handed models and chronograph watches in mint condition can sell fast. Collectors will have to dig into their pockets a little deeper to own the larger iterations from the collection like the Big Pilot’s TOP GUN watch, suggesting that the Pilot’s Chronograph TOP GUN model and its beige-coloured sidekick could be a sought-after timepiece in years to come.


IWC Schaffhausen uses its soft-iron inner cage to form a surrounding field around the Calibre 69380. This feature may not seem all that important, but it mitigates the damaging effects of magnetism that can prove detrimental to the self-winding movement. The engine belonging to the 69000 series is a classic column-wheel design. Smoother to operate, it minimizes that skip that can sometimes be felt in the pushers when activating the chronograph function. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN reference; IW389101 is available to purchase at Jura Watches and can be viewed in full for more details here

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