Horological purists often say that the most incredible watches are ones that balance creativity with technical prowess. The ’00s and ’10s were an era of delightful imagination in watchmaking, introducing the world to designs that married the whimsical with the profound. Today, IWC has revitalized that spirit with the unveiling of its Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler – a testimony to heritage, craftsmanship, and modern ingenuity.
The tale of this watch’s origin is as enthralling as the timepiece itself. Markus Bühler, while today recognized as a luminary in watchmaking, began his journey not in the world of horology but in the meticulous craft of woodworking. In 2001, at 28, Bühler stepped into the storied halls of IWC as an apprentice.
His innate talent and passion soon found an outlet when he conceptualized a turbine-equipped watch, a submission for the Richemont Group’s 2003 contest held by the Institut de Formation à la Haute Horlogerie. Competing against 64 innovative entries, Bühler’s design clinched the first prize. His creation was more than just an exercise in aesthetic prowess; it was a prelude to a limited edition of 12 iconic watches that came into being by 2008.
The 2003 prototype was crafted around the trusted 6497 Unitas movement – a foundation stone for any budding watchmaker. Fast forward to 2023, and the renewed IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler is powered by an in-house movement. The most captivating feature? The flying tourbillon that now animates the titanium turbine – a departure from the 2008 model where the turbine was propelled by the seconds display.
In the intricate world of horology, every gram matters – more so in a tourbillon. A seemingly superfluous yet stunningly graceful mechanism, a tourbillon rotates the escapement within a cage, negating the effects of gravity to improve timekeeping precision. IWC’s latest masterpiece houses a tourbillon weighing a mere 0.663 grams, composed of 56 components. Such micro-precision and weight considerations are paramount in ensuring the watch’s efficiency and accuracy.
Bühler’s innovative vision also manifests in the titanium turbine’s dual function. By becoming the upper part of the tourbillon cage, replacing the regulator, it aids in adjusting the balance’s zero crossing – a significant weight-saving decision over placing a separate turbine atop a full tourbillon setup.
The heart of this timepiece, the IWC 82905 caliber, boasts an impressive 80-hour power reserve. The Pellaton winding system, reinforced with ceramic components, ensures durability and efficient energy conversion. The movements within are a feast for the eyes, visible through the sapphire crystal caseback – from the black PVD-coated components to the intricate laser engravings and the shine of rhodium-plated parts. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler is available in 51 limited edition pieces.