The following article was created in collaboration with IWC Schaffhausen.
For the uninitiated, you would think that all the science has been settled when it comes to mechanical watches. We’ve had watches for hundreds of years, what else can you do? On the contrary. The watch industry is one of the most innovative and forward-looking industries on the planet, constantly pushing the boundaries in terms of art, engineering and materials.
IWC Schaffhausen sits directly at the forefront of innovation in the watchmaking industry. The 154-year-old firm is behind a number of watchmaking firsts, but is a particular pioneer when it comes to materials technology – specifically ceramics.
Now, in 2022, IWC combines its expertise with ceramics in watchmaking with a rather unique approach to watch design that shows they don’t just have substance, but a lot of style as well.
“As a designer, the advantage of working with a brand like IWC, which is so established in the watch industry, is that you inherently have a certain recognisability… At the same time, we have this design code that leaves a lot of room for interpretation… The watch acts as a canvas for creativity.”
Christian Knoop, Creative Director of IWC Schaffhausen
Ceramic is an ideal material for watch cases because it is scratch resistant, lightweight and highly biocompatible. It can also be produced in a wide variety of different colors. The downside of ceramics is that they are exceptionally difficult to work with – especially when you add different colors to the mix. Colored ceramic is one of the most awkward and difficult materials in watchmaking to manufacture, which is why IWC is one of the few watchmakers who can do it.
IWC’s latest collection of watches, entitled “Colours of TOP GUN”, is perhaps their most eye-catching ceramic timepiece yet. Bold, expressive and rich in colour, they are the perfect combination of art, science and technology.
Why ‘TOP GUN’? This watch is named in honor of the United States Navy’s Combat Weapons School, better known as TOPGUN – it makes sense that a watchmaker so intimately connected to the world of aviation would be inspired by such high-flying clothing.
Similarly, the two Colors of TOP GUN watches are inspired by the extreme colors that jet pilots encounter on their missions, as well as the environment in which these top pilots hone their skills.
The first of the two Colors of TOP GUN watches is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Lake Tahoe” (ref. IW389105), which was inspired by the white uniforms of the US Navy and the fascinating winter landscape around Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California and Nevada coasts. and remains a popular training ground for naval pilots.
High-contrast and extremely eye-catching, the Lake Tahoe combines a white ceramic case with a black dial and black hands. The case back is made of titanium, while the buttons and crown are made of stainless steel, lending the watch a design that is as pure as it is contrasting. Comes on a white rubber band with a snap-on clip for ease of use.
The Lake Tahoe is both the right piece and a surprisingly versatile everyday wearer. Many other luxury watchmakers make white ceramic watches, but IWC’s Lake Tahoe is a cut above the rest.
Also in the collection is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Woodland” (ref. IW389106), which was inspired by the flight suits and uniforms worn by the elite pilots at the TOPGUN flight school and the vast forest landscape through which the pilots fly.
The Woodland combines a dark green ceramic case with a dark green dial, plus numerals and hour markers printed in a lighter shade of green. It also has a matching green textile/rubber strap, while other hardware elements such as the chrono pushers, crown and case back are made from matte black Ceratanium, IWC’s signature scratch-resistant ultra-strong titanium/ceramic composite.
It’s hard to overstate how difficult it is to make a green ceramic watch case, as well as how well made this watch is. Green watches are having a real moment in 2022, but IWC’s Woodland is easily the best green watch on the market.
“We are very connected to the engineering approach; to cleanliness and timeless design. It’s part of our DNA. But on the other hand, we’re still a luxury brand that’s about craftsmanship and detail… It’s also really about the passion for detail, the extra mile, the extra functionality and the extra touch in the material that really makes our product.”
Both Woodland and Lake Tahoe are not just pretty pieces: they are high-performance pilot chronographs designed for maximum readability and durability. Boasting an atypical tri-compax layout with a day date at 3 o’clock, they are perfect precision timekeepers as well as wearable works of art.
What’s really cool about these two watches is that IWC has teamed up with PANTONE, the world-renowned color institute, to codify the unique case shades of these watches as official PANTONE colors: IWC Lake Tahoe and IWC Woodland.
It was a masterstroke on IWC’s part. IWC has always struggled with the technical aspects of watchmaking, but by partnering with PANTONE, IWC is showing how it also understands design; and the artistic aspect of watchmaking. It’s about conquering war zones and cocktail parties with similar aplomb.
“For me, the ultimate test every time we come out with a new edition is for people to not only say well, it’s a nice watch, but that it’s a real IWC.”
In this sense, both IWC Colors of TOP GUN watches are both genuine IWCs. They are different, innovative, stylish, fun… They have everything you need in a high-end watch and more. That’s why they’re so exciting.
Discover more about the colorful new TOP GUN IWC watch here.
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