Maverick calling: IWC expands its Top Gun collection with coloured ceramic
The flight of 2022 pilot chronographs debuts white and green ceramic expressions, as well as a pair of stealth models in new sizing.
In a sea of sober steels and gaudy golds, colour is a breath of fresh air that provides character and visual interest to the wrist. While it is easy to slap surface treatments or strap bright textiles onto timepieces, it is far more challenging to integrate colour directly into case materials.
Take ceramic, the technical darling of watchmakers, which is both harder and lighter than steel, fully scratch-resistant and smooth to the touch. Ceramic watch cases usually come in black or white not only because they are conventionally good-looking, but also because they are easier to manufacture. Coloured ceramics, on the other hand, involve an enormously complex engineering process, where each shade requires different raw materials and mixing ratios, as well as specific firing conditions.
As a pioneer in the use of ceramics in watchmaking, IWC has tinkered with a spectrum of ceramic colours, producing white, green and even pink zirconium oxide in prototypes of the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar as early as the 1980s. Decades of expertise and innovation culminated in the 2019 debut of sand-coloured ceramic, an understated style statement that fits right in with the military aviation vibe of the brand’s Top Gun universe.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition Mojave Desert laid the groundwork for IWC’s proprietary ceramic palette. This year, white and green editions of the same chronograph take to the skies.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Editions Lake Tahoe and Woodland showcase two new ceramic colours, once again inspired by pilot liveries and landscape views.
The 44.5mm white ceramic case of Lake Tahoe reflects the wintry terrain of its namesake – an area frequently flown over by Top Gun pilots from their base in Nevada – as well as pristine officer dress whites. The black dial is boldly accented with white numerals, markers and lume on the hands, while a polished stainless steel crown and pushers add a touch of shine. A matching white rubber strap with embossing completes the snowy look.
Where Lake Tahoe plays with contrast, Woodland focuses on the monochrome. Its dark green tone draws from the flight suits of navy pilots and lush jungle canopies, with numerals, markers and lume rendered in a paler shade. As with Lake Tahoe, the dial elements are perfectly colour-coordinated with the case – a major feat considering the different materials and manufacturing processes involved.
Woodland goes for the full classic military look with matte black Ceratanium pushers and caseback, and a matching green rubber strap with textile inlay. Both timepieces are powered by the in-house 69380 chronograph calibre, with a soft iron core to protect against magnetism.
IWC, in conjunction with Pantone, has designated the new ceramic colours as IWC Tahoe and IWC Woodland respectively. Together with the IWC Mojave Desert, they serve as future colour references unique to the watchmaker.
ON THE DARK SIDE
Additionally, two new models in Ceratanium and black ceramic exemplify the tactical and performance-oriented aesthetic that is the hallmark of the IWC Top Gun collection.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 Top Gun Ceratanium is the first 41mm chronograph with case, pushers and crown crafted in the groundbreaking material. Combining the outstanding properties of titanium and ceramic (strength and lightness of the former; hardness and scratch-resistance of the latter), the most remarkable feature of Ceratanium is nevertheless its matte black colouration.
Code-named IWC Ceratanium, the dark and subtly metallic shade is the result of a firing process that causes the titanium alloy to develop its complexion without the need for coating. Muted white print and lume on the dial and hands underscore the all-black, stealthy design.
The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Top Gun also debuts a new sizing in black ceramic. The oversized icon showcases its relatively compact 43mm case in IWC Jet Black, a deep, matte black inspired by the coatings and technical components of modern jets.
Fittingly, the rest of the watch is styled like cockpit instrumentation, with a titanium jumbo crown and caseback, black dial with white markings, and a dash of red in the Top Gun text. Ceramic is utilised in the in-house 82100 calibre as well, where the Pellaton winding system is reinforced with components made of the virtually wear-free material.
Made for aviators above all else, the IWC Top Gun collection embodies all the qualities sought in a fighter pilot: Strength, resilience and the ability to look all too cool while fulfilling a function.
Discover the IWC Top Gun collection.