IWC Pilot’s Watch Top Gun “Lake Tahoe” & “Woodland”: Fresh Codes

by happy baggage

Featuring ceramic cases in white and green, the latest chronographs from the Top Gun family exemplify IWC Schaffhausen’s technical prowess and eye for style.

There’s something about the new Top Gun chronographs from IWC Schaffhausen that makes you take a second look, and then another.

With a smooth white case, jet-black dial and a white embossed rubber strap, the stark contrast of colours and textures in the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe” makes it impossible to miss. Equally distinctive albeit in a subtler fashion, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Woodland” comes fully outfitted in a deep shade of military green, contrasted only by the dial’s luminescent numerals and hour markers. As their names suggest, the latest Top Gun timepieces have drawn inspiration from the elite naval aviators’ training grounds and uniforms.

Located not far from the US Naval Air Station Fallon is the famous Lake Tahoe, after which the new chronograph was named and fashioned. The snowy surrounds of the freshwater lake and the white US Navy uniform influenced the design of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe” (Ref. IW389105).

Notably, both Top Gun editions have cases made of ceramic, a material known for being lighter than titanium and harder than steel, and favoured by luxury watchmakers for these qualities and its resistance to scratches, heat, corrosion, and fading. For those with sensitive skin, ceramic is a prime choice as it is hypoallergenic.

Yet for all its strengths, ceramic is less widely used than metals in timepieces due to the challenges in production. Unlike metals, which have clearly defined properties, ceramics are affected by different stages of the manufacturing process. During sintering – the process of fusing raw materials into a solid mass by heat and/or pressure without melting them – ceramic shrinks by about a third. Despite using the same raw materials, different sintering methods and variables can yield ceramics with vastly different properties.

When it comes to producing ceramic cases for mechanical watches, the design must account for the shrinkage of ceramic to ensure the calibre fits precisely in the case. The addition of colour to a ceramic case brings yet another dimension of complexity to the production process as each shade requires not only different raw materials and mixing ratios but also varying manufacturing conditions. Furthermore, raw materials used to make coloured ceramics must be especially pure.

Inspired by naval flight suits, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Woodland” (Ref. IW389106) boasts a newly developed shade of green that brings to mind a forest of pines. A matching green rubber strap with textile inlay completes its sleek, sharp look.

The pristine white case of Top Gun “Lake Tahoe” and the dark green case of Top Gun “Woodland” are the result of countless optimisation tests as well as years of engineering expertise that IWC has built since the 1980s. A pioneer in the field of technical ceramics, the Manufacture’s first ceramic watch is the Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Chronograph of 1986, which had a black zirconium oxide ceramic case. In 2015, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “The Last Flight” featured a brown silicon nitride ceramic case. More recently, ceramic cases found their way into the Pilot’s Watch Top Gun range, including last year’s sand-hued Big Pilot’s Watch Top Gun “Mojave Desert”.

The white and green ceramic used for the cases also illustrates the current evolution of Top Gun from a collection primarily focused on performance to a bold style statement and an expression of a distinct way of life.

– Christoph Grainger-Herr, CEO of IWC Schaffhausen.

Like all timepieces from IWC’s Top Gun Edition, the two new chronographs are built to endure the rigours of US Navy elite training. Powered by the in-house 69380 calibre, both watches feature a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic field, and a sapphire glass front secured to withstand extreme pressure changes.

The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Woodland” has a case back, crown and pushers made of Ceratanium®  ­– IWC’s patented material with the lightness of titanium and hardness of ceramic. The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “Lake Tahoe” has a case back made of titanium; and crown and pushers made of stainless steel. A power reserve of 46 hours and water resistance up to 6 bar complete the chronographs’ impressive resume.

Each edition has a limited annual production of 1,000 pieces, so if you’ve set your sights on one, our best advice is don’t dally.

View close-up reel here.

Related Links:

IWC: An Aviation Icon Updated

IWC 2021: Pilot’s Watch Chronograph 41 is Right on Time

IWC Pilot’s Watch Top Gun Edition “SFTI”: The Ultimate Wingman

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