Last year I reviewed IWC’s Big Pilot 43, and if I’m being honest, the experience of wearing it is still rattling around in my head. I really, really liked it at the time, and having the chance to see and wear it in the months since at meetups and the like, I’ve only come to appreciate it more. As something of a flagship watch for IWC, I think it’s a strong entry, and a completely viable and interesting alternative to, for example, a Rolex Submariner, if you’re looking for a daily-wear sports watch for the long haul and to cover your bases in almost any situation. And it’s a fascinating case study in how size can radically change the impression of a watch in your mind. The 46mm version of the Big Pilot is a watch I’ve never found appealing, but shaving just 3mm off the case and holding strong to that old school pilot watch design language creates something that I’ve thought more than once in the last year about picking up for myself one day.
It would appear that IWC is fairly committed to the not-so-Big Pilot in its 43mm format, as they’ve just announced a new dial variant in green, a dial color that has gone from under the radar, to trendy, to just part of the normal array of dial colors we expect to be able to choose from. The brand refers to this as a “racing green,” and from the IWC supplied images it would appear to have a dramatic sunray effect, not unlike the green dial on their Pilot’s Watch Chronograph or the blue dial on the Big Pilot 43 I reviewed last year. As you’d expect, the watch has all the same specs as the original Big Pilot 43, including 100 meters of water resistance, a 13.6mm case height, and the excellent caliber 82100 beating away inside.
Alongside the new green Big Pilot 43, IWC has also announced that a total of 10 new rubber straps will be available this summer, suitable for most of their Pilot’s Watch lineup. In addition to the green seen here, you can find straps in black, blue, red, brown, yellow, gray, orange, and light blue. All of the straps use IWC’s EasX-CHANGE system, which is their platform allowing for the effortless swapping of straps (and compatible bracelets) using a small push-button mechanism built right into the strap. One of the most appealing parts of this particular strap change system is that it’s designed so that the spring bar is left attached to the case, making it even easier to mount a NATO style strap to your watch quickly (if that’s your thing).
There’s no getting around that this is a lot of green, but I think it’s interesting that IWC has created a far more playful version of the Big Pilot by bringing the size down and adding color not only to the dial, but to the strap as well. Imagine this green dialed Big Pilot paired with, I don’t know, a yellow rubber strap? That’s kind of at the opposite end of the spectrum from the stoic and sober 46mm version of this watch. And for Big Pilot traditionalists (is that a thing?) I imagine this new generation of larger than normal but not huge pilot’s watches is a fairly surprising development.
The new Big Pilot’s Watch 43 in green is priced at $8,650, and is available now through IWC’s website. IWC