Meet the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch
 

Meet the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch

5 min read
Charlotte Harris

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IWC

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Industry News

Charlotte Harris

Brands

IWC

Categories

Industry News

IWC Schaffhausen has unveiled the new Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Markus Bühler, the highly anticipated successor to a design of the same name originally launched in 2008. For the first time, the aircraft turbine at 6 o’clock is integrated with a rare flying minute tourbillon.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch - Credit IWC

The IWC Big Pilot’s is already a worldwide icon with its statement crown and legible dial, but the design truly reached cult status amongst collectors when the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Markus Bühler was launched in 2008. The design was inspired by a special watch created by Markus Bühler, one of IWC’s apprentices, as an entry for a competition organised by the “Institut de Formation à la Haute Horlogerie.

Markus Bühler combined the architecture of IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch with a visual feature of an aircraft turbine on the small seconds. Unsurprisingly, he won first place and later, the creation was launched to the public as a limited edition run of 12 pieces. After finishing his apprenticeship as a watchmaker, Bühler eventually became the Department Manager of Industrialisation and Head of Movement Assembly & Industrialisation. Since 2020, he has been tasked with managing the entirety of IWC’s assembly processes at the Manufakturzentrum as Associate Director of Watch & Movement Assembly.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon WatchIWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch - Credit IWC

Now, fifteen years later, Markus Bühler’s creation is making a comeback, this time evolving the iconic aircraft turbine on the dial into a flying minute tourbillon. The design is suitably named the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler and can be found under reference IW329901.

“When I created my Big Pilot’s Watch with a turbine as an apprentice watchmaker, I would never have imagined I would lead the development of a second edition 15 years later – let alone that I would be responsible for all assembly processes at IWC. To meet the high expectations of our collectors, we decided to create something truly exclusive and integrate the signature turbine into a tourbillon. This new edition perfectly embodies IWC’s engineering spirit while showcasing highest levels of detail and craftsmanship”, explains Markus Bühler, Associate Director of Watch and Movement Assembly at IWC Schaffhausen.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon WatchIWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch - Credit IWC

The new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Markus Bühler Tourbillon watch is an obvious tribute to its predecessor but brings with it plenty of noticeable upgrades too. Gone is the outsourced movement and turbine-decorated case back. Instead, the decorative charm incorporates one of the industry’s most complicated complications: the tourbillon.

The tourbillion is placed at 6 o’clock, hiding behind the turbine feature which still acts as a small seconds indicator thanks to the red dot placed on one of the twelve blades. Combining these features together was no easy feat, largely due to the weight of the turbine. The bigger the weight, the more energy is required to keep the mechanism moving and therefore, tourbillons are typically engineered extremely light. To overcome this, Markus Bühler machined the tourbillon from a lightweight titanium alloy.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon WatchIWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch - Credit IWC

Due to the complex geometry and tiny dimensions, the milling process alone took several hours and the twelve blades are polished completely by hand to achieve their perfected finish. To further decrease the weight of the tourbillon complication, the upper part of the tourbillon’s regulator was replaced by the turbine itself. This also meant the hairspring had to be attached to the underside of one of the blades. The tourbillon impresses with a total of 56 parts and weighs only 0.663 grams. The pallet lever and the escape wheel are also treated with Diamond Shell technology, a special coating that reduces friction and improves the energy flow in the movement. The process, although extremely complex, has resulted in stunning visuals.

The rest of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Markus Bühler’s dial maintains the signature elements of the Big Pilot’s Watch. It has oversized Arabic numerals, a legible minutes track and two large, sword-shaped hands for the hours and minutes. The hardware on the glossy black dial is also generously applied with glow in the dark Superluminova.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon WatchIWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch - Credit IWC

For the case, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Markus Bühler Tourbillon reduces its size compared to its predecessor. The 46mm width is shrunken down to a more wearable 43mm and rather than made from steel, it is engineered from 950 platinum. The case is entirely polished, which is departure from Big Pilots’ typical brushed finishing. There’s still the same oversized crown, sapphire crystal glass, exhibition case back and 100 metre water resistant rating.

As mentioned, the case back of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Markus Bühler Tourbillon is also different. The turbine from before is no longer visible, but instead the in-house calibre 82905 automatic winding movement is put on display. It is wound by a Pellaton system with ceramic components and runs at a frequency of 28,800vph. It also has a weekend-proof 80-hour power reserve and plenty of nice decoration to view including black PVD coated plates, bridges and rotor.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon WatchIWC Big Pilot’s Watch “Markus Bühler” Tourbillon Watch - Credit IWC

Completing the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Markus Bühler Tourbillon is a handsome black Cordovan leather strap with a folding clasp crafted from platinum. In tribute to the watch’s creator, the back of the strap is printed with a turbine logo and Markus Bühler’s signature.

The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Markus Bühler Tourbillon reference IW329901 is another limited edition with only 51 pieces made available. Only 50 of them are available to the public with one reserved especially for Bühler. Not only is the limited-edition status going to make this watch difficult to obtain, but it’s price point of £119,000 isn’t going to be accessible to many either.

Technical Specifications:

  • Brand: IWC Schaffhausen
  • Model: Big Pilot’s Watch Markus Bühler Tourbillon IW329901
  • Price: £119,000
  • Material: 950 Platinum
  • Movement: Calibre 82905 automatic winding
  • Complications: Hours, minutes, flying tourbillon
  • Dial: Black
  • Size: 43mm wide, 14.6mm tall
  • When the reviewer would personally wear it: I’m not sure I’d ever dare wear a £119k watch!
  • A friend we’d recommend it to first: A watch collector with plenty of disposable income.
  • Best characteristics of the watch: The turbine tourbillon feature is very cool.
  • The worst characteristics of the watch: The price

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Charlotte Harris

About the Author: Charlotte Harris

Writing and watches are two of my biggest passions in life so being able to unite them on a daily basis is a wonderful thing. I hope through my writing that I can bring a fresh, feminine perspective on the watch space and encourage more men and women to get excited about all that’s happening.

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