Countries :


Editor's opinion
68.5 / 100
On the catalogue for now nearly 10 years, the Big Pilot is the highlight model of the “Flieger” scale, with high level dimensions and movement.
Straight to the Point

IWC Big Pilot

Ref.: IW500401
$11,400.00 US retail price May 25th, 2010
  • quality of the manufacture
  • movement
  • authenticity and temperament
  • only for strong wrists
Brand IWC
Model name
Big Pilot
Case material
Case diameter (without crown)
46,2 mm
Case diameter (crown included)
51,80 mm
Movement type
IWC 51111
Base Caliber
IWC Manufacture
Power reserve
Dual-face crystal with anti-reflective coating
Power reserve
168h (7 days)
Transparent back
Lug width
22 mm
Length from lug to lug
56 mm
Case thickness
15,80 mm
Strap material
Crocodile skin
Clasp type
Pin buckle
Clasp material
Total weight
147 grammes
Retail price USA at May 25th, 2010
Comfort (/15) 8
Movement (/20) 13
Movement Optimisation / Garnishment (/5) 4
Ease of handling and adjustment (/5) 5
Movement control proceeded by the Manufacture / horlogical awards (/3) 1
Power reserve (/2) 2
Complications (/5) 1
Finishing (/20) 17
Dial finishing (/6) 4
Case finishing (/6) 6
Quality of garnishment / caseback engraving quality (/2) 2
Crystal quality (/4) 3
Clasp finishing (inner and extern) (/2) 2
Functionality (/20) 15.5
Diurnal legibility (/5) 5
Night legibility (/4) 4
Water resistance (/3) 0.5
Strap : ease of size adjustment + ease of substitution (/4) 3
Clasp : quality and safety (/4) 3
Additional items (/10) 3
Limited edition (/3) 0
Watch delivered with several straps (/2) 0
Quality of the watch box (/1) 1
Portability with shirtsleeves buttoned (/2) 0
Goodies included (/1) 1
Understandability of the brochure (/1) 1
Value for money (/15) 12
When to wear it ? For an aerial survey flight.
Users opinion
like this watch
Do you like this watch?

IWC is undoubtedly one of the most prestigious brands on the aviator’s watches segment. Over the years, the “Flieger” scale has given birth to several emblematic models such as the Mark XI or the Doppelchronograph.
On the catalogue for now nearly 10 years, the Big Pilot is the highlight model, with high level dimensions and movement.


A pilot watch with an authentic design

The first word that comes off the top of your head when seeing the Big Pilot is “authenticity”.
The design is directly inherited from the aviators’ watch of the Second World War.
No exotic material nor gadget functionalities: a Big Pilot seems to be there only to give the time of the next raid or to control a flight schedule at 20000 feet.

Once more, in IWC, the finishing of the casing is outstanding, with an alternation of polished/brushed surfaces and sharp angles.
The bulb crown with the acronym “Probus Scafusia” is of a big diameter and is itself worth the trip.
All the IWC aviators’ watches being thought to be really used on flight – and not only inside the lounges’ bars of the business class, the sapphire is resistant to the depressurizations (thanks to a special fixing) and the movement is protected from the magnetic fields by a soft iron cage.


A high quality range manufactured movement

The movement is the caliber 51111, the highest quality of the IWC caliber without complications.
Endowed with a power reserve of 7 days, it owns the Pellaton assemble system that is common to all the IWC and its big diameter ensures it an unfailing reliability.
The dial is very uncluttered. Nothing comes to disturb the reading of the essential information: hours, minutes, power reserve, and, the sole concession for a civilian use is the date.
The diurnal readability is perfect.


The bulb crown with the acronym “Probus Scafusia” is of a big diameter and is itself worth the trip.


A watch that needs to be tried before buying it

Exclusive in its manufacture, the Big Pilot is also unique when wearing it: its large dial opening and its enough long lugs make it seems larger than it already is (46,2mm).

It tightly suits a 17cm wrist and its size can puzzle an unwarned public.

Hence, it is a watch that absolutely has to be tried before considering buying it, because its comfort can quickly become problematic: the matt crocodile skin strap, though visually very pleasant, is extremely rigid and can irritate the wrist.

As well as for the crown, the very prominent crown can be disturbing if the upper part of the wrist is sensitive to abrasions…

What to remember

Of a flawless manufacture and endowed with a never out of fashion charm, the Big Pilot is really an outstanding watch.
It is an extreme piece which quality will fulfill the amateurs ready to bear its radicalism.
The fact remains that with a price over 11000€, it is better to have a real love at first sight because it is still a watch difficult to wear daily.

For those who are seduced by the design of the Big Pilot but the price and the diameter hold back, the IWC or the Mark XVI offer, for instance, even if the movement is not comparable, a very close design with a more reasonable diameter and price (39mm and less than 3000€)

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related IWC articles

Photos Dive watches

Photos Nightshots Vol. #1

Editor's opinion
73.5 / 100

Photos Dive watches

Photos Nightshots Vol. #1

Editor's opinion
73.5 / 100