“We have a place up in Montana, if you know where that is. It’s on an island on the lake. My brother had told me earlier to keep an eye towards the sky on a particular day. When he came, he came zooming through the sky in the cockpit of his fighter jet — I’m sure, illegally, on hindsight. He came in, did a little airshow for his little brother. For me that was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, the power, the speed, the agility and the manoeuvrability.’ And the freedom that, you know, here’s my brother doing this really cool thing for me. I think, if anything, that was the moment that I said to myself, that’s what I want to do.”
This was how it all started for, the now retired, CAPT Jim DiMatteo who ended up forging a 25-year long career as a US Navy aviator with far reaching credentials. CAPT DiMatteo joined the Navy after graduating from the University of California Berkeley, in 1986. He then went on to graduate from the Navy Fighter Weapons School and was even deployed into combat — including the 1990 Operation Desert Storm — before being recruited by TOPGUN Adversary squadron.
What is the TOPGUN Adversary squadron? No, it’s got nothing to do with the 1986 film, Top Gun, neither did it require for CAPT DiMatteo to “feel the need for speed.” The TOPGUN Adversary squadron is an elite force comprised of some of the US Navy’s most talented pilots. These are individuals who have performed at such a level beyond their peers that they are chosen to train into taking on the mindset of the enemy. Essentially, they learn how to become great at being a “bad guy”. Does that mean that CAPT DiMatteo had to train to become an evil version of himself?
“The whole TOPGUN Adversary world, from the fighter pilot perspective, it’s the our coup de grâce. It’s the pinnacle of what we can do, as far as making the national team, if you will, and representing the best of the best for your country, for your particular skillset,” explains CAPT DiMatteo. “It’s something that everybody’s very proud of. To be able to be selected, to be one of the Adversary guys and prepare somebody else. It is very rewarding to fly and achieve your own goals. And it is even more so rewarding to fly and help achieve goals for another pilot”.
In fact, CAPT DiMatteo was so good at helping other become better versions of themselves, that he was ultimately promoted to join the headquarters of Naval Aviation in San Diego, California, where he worked for the Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) overseeing the TOPGUN Adversary program.
Shares CAPT DiMatteo, “When I was training to become a TOPGUN Adversary pilot, it was the hardest that I’d ever worked. Anything that you work so hard for, and then you achieve — it’s like setting yourself out to climb an incredible mountain and actually making it to the top — it’s kind of like that, you know, it’s like you’re standing on top of the mountain.
“Our version of the view we bring back from the top of that mountain is a patch that we earn when we’ve graduated. It’s the official TOPGUN patch that you put on your shoulder. It’s a matter of a huge accomplishment and pride for us, because no matter where you are, this patch identifies you as part of something greater than yourself.”
Since 2018, the other thing that the TOPGUN Adversary graduates have been wearing proudly, is the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor” watch that bears the TOPGUN patch, at 9 o’clock. This watch is made available solely to TOPGUN Adversary graduates; no exceptions.
But if you do want to feel like a part of the fraternity, IWC is announcing today the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOPGUN Edition “SFTI”, limited to 1500 pieces. While the new watch takes inspiration from the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor”, you’re not going have the hallowed patch on the dial. There is, however, an engraving of said patch on the caseback.
The new watch features a 44mm ceramic case and Ceratanium caseback, which make the watch completely anti-reflective. Powering the watch is the IWC-manufactured 69380 calibre that enables the column-wheel chronograph mechanism with a 30-minute and 12-hour totalizer. Running seconds is situated at 6’clock and a day-date aperture at 3 o’clock.
Few mortals are able to attain the heights of life goals that people the likes of CAPT DiMatteo are able to achieve. For the rest of us, let’s be thankful that IWC creates watches the likes of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOPGUN Edition “SFTI,” that allow us a taste of something greater than ourselves.
Self-winding IWC-manufacture calibre 69380; hours and minutes; small running seconds; chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour totalizer; day-date; 46-hour power reserve
44mm ceramic case with Ceratanium caseback; water-resistant to 60m
Green textile strap
Price & Limitation
Priced at CHF 10,900; limited edition of 1,500 pieces