Best Of The Best
Whereas Bell & Ross is a relative newcomer, IWC is a brand with historical military provenance–something that the company draws on with products like last year’s Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 (a reissue of the Luftwaffe-issued B-Uhr) and Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII (a reissue of the RAF-issued Mark 11). Alongside these reissued, vintage pilot’s watches, the Schaffhausen-based manufacture also offers a range of newly conceived watches produced with aerial combat in mind.
Partnering in name with the US Navy’s TOPGUN school–immortalized in the 1986 Tom Cruise film–IWC’s Top Gun range was launched in 2007 with the ref. IW3799-01 Pilot’s Double Chronograph and has since grown to include six different references. Now a popular and established part of the brand’s catalog, all are pilot’s watches designed with the name TOPGUN–or the United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program, to refer to it formally–at their core.
Christian Knoop, IWC’s Creative Director and the Top Gun collection’s lead designer, says: “The models combine the typical design signature of the Pilot’s range with military-inspired visual codes. With their black, cockpit-style design and the attractive mix of materials, such as high-tech ceramic and titanium alongside calfskin straps, they symbolize the coolness of the TOPGUN fighter pilots.”
Panerai, Breitling and Hamilton are, like IWC, brands with genuine military provenance that have capitalized and built on their heritage to produce new military-esque watches for the civilian market. Panerai released the Radiomir 1940 Minute Repeater Carillion Tourbillon GMT in May last year, a thoroughly non-combatant red-gold timepiece housed in the Radiomir case initially created under commission for Italy’s Navy: the Marina Militare. While at Baselworld last year, Hamilton presented a reimagined and updated version of their USN BUSHIPS canteen watch, the Khaki Navy Frogman. Clearly intended to be worn when sunning oneself on a sandy beach as opposed to attaching a limpet mine to a ship’s hull.