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IWC Pilot Chronograph Top Gun Miramar Watch

IWC Pilot Chronograph Top Gun Miramar Watch Watch Releases

Hitting pretty close to home (for me) IWC announces its first new watch of 2012 with a piece titled after the location of a US Marine Corps base in San Diego. Miramar is the location of the Naval Air Station and where TOPGUN pilots are trained. For a while now IWC has been proud of its Top Gun labeled aviator watches and 2012 sees the continuation and extension of that collection.

According to IWC 2012 is going to be the year of the pilot watch for the brand. It seems as though their new strategy is to focus on  specific product families each year. Last year IWC focused on a major refresh of their Portofino watches, and the Pilot collection gets all the attention this year. One of IWC’s most popular models is their Big Pilot watch, which should also see a notable addition this year.

To tease the entire collection that will soon be released at SIHH 2012 IWC has released information on the Pilot Chronograph Ton Gun Miramar. It houses a brand new in-house made movement (which will be a part of other new Pilot watches), being the caliber 89365 automatic. The new fly-back chronograph measures 60 minutes, has the date, and has a really large power reserve of 168 hours. For this model they wanted to have a more simple bi-compax layout, but I hope the new movement can accommodate a 12 hour chronograph (which I think is better for pilot uses).

IWC Pilot Chronograph Top Gun Miramar Watch Watch Releases

IWC uses both in-house made movements and those sourced from places like ETA. Movements from ETA aren’t as prestigious but tend to be extremely reliable and robust. Sources have told me that IWC has had some issues in the last few years with their own movements in terms of repair and reliability. While their movements looks really good on paper, my hope is that quality is very high on their list for the new calibers that we will see. It is true that while the new Pilot watches are to be debuted very soon, IWC will still have a few months to work on them before the full commercial release.

The Pilot Chronograph Top Gun Miramar will sport a full ceramic case. Done in a semi-gloss, the case will be a large 48mm 46mm wide. The pushers and crown along with the Top Gun engraved caseback are in titanium. Many have complained about the size of the watch as being too large. Actually, IWC has indicated that almost across the board all of its Pilot watches will increase in size. Personally I don’t mind this as I like large watches. The last few years people have claimed that smaller watches are now in and large watches are out. That shift attempt was an epic failure as I predicted. Brands tried to produce and market smaller watches with limited success – and are now reserving smaller sizes for select formal watches. Big sport watches are still king when it comes to what men seem to want.


IWC Pilot Chronograph Top Gun Miramar Watch Watch Releases

Now for some thoughts on the design. I needed to sit on this one for a while. My initial thoughts were that IWC has created the world’s most impressive prop watch for those wanting to outfit a Vietnam-era military costume. The dial design with green textile strap and dark gray case is almost cliche as a military accessory. IWC was really going for a theme watch here and they succeeded. Is it a new classic with the ability to go on 1000 different types of wrists and look good with a 1000 outfits? I am not so sure about that. The charm of IWC’s previous Pilot watches was their durability in design and style. The Top Gun Miramar watch is so specific in its identity that it might look out of place much of the time. Though I could be wrong.

I am also getting a bit weary of retro style aviator watches that are totally new but attempt to look old at the same time. A good example of this is the sand colored lume on this piece. For a long time now brands use this to look like lume which has aged over time getting a darker patina. It doesn’t really need to be there and they do it for style. On some watches I love the look (especially when it clashes with black), but against gray and green I have yet to see how it appeals to me. I’d need to see the watch in person to decide. There is also the matter of the red hour indicator ring. This inner ring of hour numerals is very much part of pilot watch history. Though the red colored ring offers less than optimal contrast against the gray face of the watch. Then there is the “open” date window. I am not a huge fan of these and IWC almost pioneered this look with their previous Top Gun watch that had the “T window,” incorporating both the day of the week and the date.

The green strap is meant to go with all those olive green bags, jumpsuits, and other items that we associate with military pilots. It is another style-related item. I guess that is the biggest virtue of the watch and my biggest problem with it. IWC has tried so hard to offer a cool looking military-inspired Pilot watch, that it ends up looking like it was put together by a designer versus something that naturally would go on a Top Gun pilot’s wrist. Those looking for a high-end fashion accessory will likely find this to be a very cool watch. I have no doubt that in the right setting and with the right outfit this is gonna be a stellar looking piece. Though by definition it has trouble existing alone. It is part of a theme, a look, a style. To be a serious classic it must holds its own in a vacuum. I’ll be sure to check out this piece along with other new IWC Pilot watches soon.



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  • Pete24

    Another watch for the morbidly obese.

  • Pete24

    IWC have corrected Hodinkee on their post saying the watch will be 46mm not 48

  • Pete24

    IWC have corrected Hodinkee on their post stating the watch will be 46mm not 48……possibly because of all the backlash about its obesity or just a unchecked press e-mail if both sites said 48mm?

    • nateb123

      @Pete24 46 sounds perfect. It’s big but I’ve always found IWC Pilots to have lug structure that makes them wear well unlike so many brands that are using the Fleiger look. Definitely cool but I would expect this is just a special edition or one of a few colour schemes. I suspect some very classic colouring can be had too, but a black faced pilots watch on a brown strap just doesn’t quite grab eyes as much.

    • IWC wasn’t clear in their press release on the size. Either way I am OK with the diameter, lol.

  • danieluy

    Beautiful timepiece.

  • Kris C

    *please don’t have a topgun logo please don’t have a topgun logo* scrollscrollscroll… D’OH.

    I’ll just wait for the inevitable G.I.Joe watch and pull the trigger on the the Cobra Commander edition. Much less ridiculous than Goose, Iceman, and that wee Maverick.

  • cmmatt

    The Naval Fighter Weapons School (aka TOPGUN) hasn’t been located at Miramar for 15 years. It’s actually in Nevada.

  • Russ Schwenkler

    I largely agree with the author’s comments about this almost being a costume piece. It is so niche styled that I struggle to think of a time where it would seem appropriate. Since this will probably be a $12,000 watch, the intended market is obviously not military pilots. So who wears this and when, is a valid question. I’d need a wardrobe full of Mark Ecko pseudo military styled polos I guess.

    I hope we see a variation with white markings (grey or white inner hours) and a different strap option. I like the size and the dial design, but the overt (let’s play Navy pilot) styling spoils it. I’m very happy to see the elimination of the TopGun logo on the side of the watch. The caseback doesn’t bother me at all.

  • JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

    “ohmgaw leik what topgun pilot is gonna wear this? Can it release chaff to stop an incoming missl? Leik, I KNOW navy pilots and they all wear casio’s and drive mustangs. This is just another bullshit watch for guys who want to think they’re in da militaries. Ohmgaw no pilot would wear this lol.”

    • Kris C

      @JohnnyJohnnyJohnny unfunny

      • JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

        @Kris C that’s because you’re one of the main people who spouted such nonsense in JLC SEALS post. It sounds retarded doesn’t it.

        • nateb123

          @JohnnyJohnnyJohnny@Kris I normally agree with nothing you say Johnny, but that actually made me laugh pretty hard. Especially because of how much Kris C hated it

        • Kris C

          @nateb123@JohnnyJohnnyJohnny Don’t hate, punctuate.

        • JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

          @Kris C@nateb123 Don’t hate, Master

    • tf103

      @JohnnyJohnnyJohnny Actually we wear Breitlings and drive BMWs.

      • JohnnyJohnnyJohnny

        @tf103 is that you, John Travolta?

  • lbcyclist

    I have the old IWC Double Chronograph, before the Spitfire nonsense and all the design changes. It is a beautiful watch with very versatile styling – I have worn it with everything from a business suit to very casual clothes. This one? I can’t imagine how it can be used.

  • MID

    After the Mark XV (maybe even the Mark XII) IWC has produced, in its pilot line, the finest made cartoon watches in the world. This watch continues the tradition.

  • AtSeaWatch

    This really isn’t a bad looking watch. Would I wear it? No way. I’d be laughed off base for that chuck of poser retro garbage. Still, extra points should be awarded if they offer a trade in program for their previous abomination Top Gun watches. Must get those nasty critters out of circulation as soon as possible.

  • jnolan

    After reading the comments I have to say I am reluctant to post this comment… yes I do have a Top Gun. It’s a nice piece, at the time very different from what was being offered however today a number of companies have ceramic cased models (I saw a nice Panerai 1950 in a ceramic case recently).

    It’s still a nice watch and I wear it at least a day a week however I do wish the strap quality were a little better. It is billed as Kevlar but the material is not nearly as durable as it should be (Blancpain has a much nicer Kevlar strap but it is 1mm wider than the Top Gun lugs allow).

    If I were to pick just one watch this would not be it… but I am happy to have one.

  • r_s_g

    Sort of interesting to see IWC take design cues from Maurice De Mauriac. Except for the fact that 46mm is ridiculously large, and this is going to be way too expensive for what it is–a costume watch indeed.

  • wallydog2

    “Top Gun” as a marketing label is almost as juvenile as naming an NHL team after a mindless Disney movie – which, next to “Slap Shot”, was the second worst insult to Canada’s national sport. (Mind you, I would buy an IWC with an engraving on the back of Jose Bautista flipping his bat after dispatching the Texas Rangers.)