Schaffhausen, 14th September 2023: Maximum robustness and performance, a utilitarian heritage, and design cues that have proved stronger than time: these characteristics are at the root of the sustained success and popularity of the G-Class from Mercedes-Benz and the Big Pilot’s Watch from IWC Schaffhausen.
The Swiss luxury watch manufacturer now launches two special Big Pilot’s Watch editions to celebrate these modern design icons. While echoing signature G-Class design features such as the headlights or the spare wheel cover, they are both made from extremely robust and resilient case materials. One features a case and crown of 18-carat Armor Gold®; the second is IWC’s first timepiece with a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) case.
The Big Pilot’s Watch from IWC Schaffhausen and the G-Class from Mercedes-Benz share a similar history and are deeply rooted in a utilitarian legacy. Both were initially developed to meet purely functional criteria – one to be easy to read and highly robust, the other to offer uncompromising offroad capabilities. Over the years, they have retained their utilitarian beginnings and evolved into modern design icons at the same time. After nearly 20 years of partnership with Mercedes-AMG, the Swiss luxury watch manufacturer now celebrates these icons with two striking special editions of the Big Pilot’s Watch.
The Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 (Ref. IW501201) boasts a case and crown made of 18-carat Armor Gold®, a black dial, and a black rubber strap with microfibre inlay. The black and gold color code is inspired by the exterior paintwork and interior finishing of the recently launched Mercedes-AMG G 63 “Grand Edition”. Armor Gold® is an innovative alloy that elevates the hardness values of gold to a whole new level and makes this comparatively soft, precious metal much more resistant to external influences. Thanks to an improved microstructure, this special alloy is significantly harder and more wear-resistant than conventional 5N gold. The combination of sand-blasted surfaces and polished edges lends this Big Pilot’s Watch a classy, contemporary character.
The Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 (Ref. IW506201) is the first IWC timepiece to feature a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) case, engineered in close collaboration with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Unlike conventional carbon fiber-reinforced polymers, the fibers of this composite material are embedded in a matrix of ceramic rather than polymer. Therefore, CMC components are extremely damage-tolerant. Because they are also insensitive to thermal shocks, they are the material of choice for applications with extremely high requirements in terms of lightness, strength, and temperature resistance – from aerospace to the manufacturing of brake discs for sports and luxury cars.
A HIGHLY COMPLEX MANUFACTURING PROCESS
The starting point for manufacturing a CMC watch case is a conventional carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer. In a heat treatment called pyrolysis, lasting several days, the polymer matrix is converted to carbon, leaving behind a dense weave of fibers embedded in a porous carbon matrix. Subsequently, silicon crystals are placed on top of the component, and everything is heated in an oven. During this so-called siliconisation, silicon is pulled into the cavities and chemically reacts with the carbon, forming a new matrix made of silicon carbide ceramic. After finishing with diamond tools, the CMC cases exhibit a matte black color and a unique structure determined by the fibers, making each piece truly unique.
Photo by IWC.