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Reviewing the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN “Mohave Desert”

This 250-limited-edition IWC TOP GUN watch from the Big Pilot’s watch series is crafted from a resilient sand-coloured ceramic case and is ready to assist pilots of the United States Navy Fighter Tactics Instructor program


The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN “Mohave Desert” watch is not the first wristwatch to showcase IWC Schaffhausen’s proprietary sand-coloured beige ceramic. Back when the watch was released last year, IWC also launched a perpetual calendar edition alongside it. What’s more, it was 2019 when the material really kicked things off for the manufacturer. IWC released the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN, made from this highly resistant material, turning the heads of many IWC watch collectors. Since IWC and cockpit watches are inextricably linked with one another, it comes as no surprise that the luxury watch manufacturer has made some incredibly beautiful and functional timepieces for the United States Navy Fighter Tactics Instructor program.



The first of the TOP GUN wristwatches was launched in 2007 with the reference. IW379901, before the model moved into a sub-collection in 2012. The collection of stealthy military watches has always relied on high-tech materials like the brand’s own Ceratanium material, with a preference for black ceramic to keep in line with a sleek and contemporary look. Now IWC Schaffhausen is focussing on a departure from black ceramic with a camouflage desert warfare-inspired design. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN “Mohave Desert”  echoes the mottled effect of the arid-environment camouflage worn by the US Armed Forces during Operation Desert Storm.


The IWC “Mohave Desert” watch


Models from the “Mohave Desert” series by IWC Schaffhausen are action-ready watches that are robust and rugged enough to face all kinds of external factors, like extreme temperatures, sand storms, magnetic fields and dry desert conditions, especially those in North America. The watch, which belongs to the Big Pilot’s Watch collection, features a dial inspired by the sandy hues of the famous American desert. The Mohave Desert is also the location where China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station can be found, where the Navy and Marine Corps, for the last five years, have tested and developed every airborne weapon system.


To create the tough case material of the Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN “Mohave Desert”, polycrystalline powders are mixed with what IWC Schaffhausen describes as top-secret “auxiliary materials”. These materials are subject to scorching temperatures and shaped. As a result of this technology, the strength of the material produced is second in toughness only to a diamond on the Vickers scale, whilst its sandy colour is achieved by mixing metallic oxides with zirconium oxide.



The case and dial


Measuring a broad 46mm width, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN “Mohave Desert” certainly makes an impact on the wrist. It sits up at a height of 14.6mm on the wrist and features a titanium caseback and an oversized conical crown. Both are screwed down to assist with a water resistance of 60 meters.  Identical in layout to the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch IW501001 released back in 2016, the “Mohave Desert” watch features a date window at 6 o’clock and a power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock. The shade of the dial is left to the wearer’s interpretation. Some say the watch appears grey. Others disagree and can see a brown colour. Some ay taupe – others say a dark sandy colour. Whether you see any one of these colours or another shade, what can’t be argued is the fact that the dial of this “Mohave Desert” watch perfectly matches its case. The Arabic numeral hour markers and the familiar triangular hour marker with the two dots at 12 o’clock, together with the central tapering hands, are all finished in a creamy sandy beige colour to match the minute track around the periphery of the dial and the numerals around the power reserve indicator. The 6 o’clock location reveals a date window, protected underneath a scratch-resistant and anti-reflective sapphire crystal glass front, secured against any displacement caused by an unexpected drop in pressure. Finer details can be appreciated in the gritty texture of the luminescent material applied to the central hands, for example, designed to mirror the terrain of the sandy desert. The power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock is also picked out with a snailed effect.


IWC’s relationship with ceramic


The Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar was IWC Schaffhausen’s first ceramic watch, built in 1986 with the reference. 3755. Interestingly, the idea of crafting an IWC watch from ceramic was born from a material shortage. The Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar was met with resounding success - so much so that IWC was not expecting such high demand and subsequently had not ordered enough gold. To save waste, IWC experts stopped machining and stamping cases and began pioneering a technology that would allow them to set their cases in gold. This gave the manufacturer the idea for experimenting with zirconium oxide. High-tech ceramic is notoriously difficult to produce and is one of the hardest materials on the planet. It has many notable properties and values including; lightweight, skin-friendly, fade-resistant, scratch-resistant, and hardness. All these have led to its use in IWC Schaffhausen watches such as this “Mohave Desert” watch limited to 250 pieces worldwide.



The movement and strap


The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN “Mohave Desert” watch is fitted on a sandy-beige-coloured rubber strap with a sandy textile inlay and a sandy-beige ceramic buckle to complete its design. Inside the case of the watch and concealed behind the model’s titanium caseback of this “Mohave Desert” watch is the in-house IWC calibre 52110, which provides a 7-day power reserve and features two barrels. The movement performs at 28,800 vibrations per hour and is surrounded by IWC Schaffhausen’s very own soft-iron inner case to protect the movement from the damaging effects caused by magnetic fields and shock.



If you’d like more information on this limited edition “Mohave Desert” watch by IWC Schaffhausen, you can read up on the spec here online at Jura Watches, or call and speak to a member of our sales team on 01335 453453


Technical Specifications of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN “Mohave Desert” Limited Edition watch

  • Case: Sandy-beige ceramic – 46mm – height: 14.6mm – 60-meter water-resistant – anti-reflective and scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass front- titanium caseback – screw-down caseback – screw-down oversized conical crown
  • Dial: “Mohave Desert”-inspired dial – beige-coloured Arabic numerals and hands – luminous hour markers and hands – beige numerals on power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock with snailed decoration – date window at 6 o’clock
  • Movement: IWC calibre 52110 – in-house developed – bidirectional rotating Pellaton winding system – 7-day power reserve – 28,800 vph – twin barrels – soft-iron inner case – hours, minutes, seconds, date, power reserve indicator, central hacking seconds
  • Strap: Sand-coloured rubber strap – sand-coloured inlay – sandy-beige ceramic buckle engraved with the IWC logo
  • Reference: IWC506003
  • Availability: Limited to 250 pieces worldwide
  • Price: £13,600
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