In early December 2015, IWC opened up a new location for their Beverly Hills boutique store on Rodeo drive – which is something CEO Georges Kern had been aiming his sights on for a while. The previous IWC boutique was charming, but quite literally around the corner in a smaller space along a row of stores local LA watch lovers refer to as “Richemont Row.” The new IWC watch store is bigger and, quite honestly, beautifully designed as a space to hang out and look at timepieces. IWC has really been getting their retail store concept correctly from an aesthetic and comfort standpoint. What I also like is that when they introduced their current store concept a few years ago, it was actually masculine yet approachable which is far removed from the traditional jewelry store-style atmosphere where high-end watches are typically sold.
As part of the opening of the new Rodeo Drive store, IWC of course launched a limited edition watch for the occasion with the reference IW502003 IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive. Limited to 250 pieces, this is one of those limited edition models I think fans of the brand should take notice of given the design as well as the case. The last ceramic-cased IWC Big Pilot’s Watch I reviewed was this Top Gun version here. Things have changed a bit, and while the movement remains the same in-house caliber 5111, the new watch is a lot more wearable.
It seems subtle, but the reduction in case size from 48mm wide to 46mm wide is a big deal, making the watch (at least for my wrists) actually comfortable to wear – while still obviously being a large timepiece. I wasn’t able to take many pictures at the store opening event, but I did snap the above picture of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Boutique Rodeo Drive timepiece for Instagram, which, in my opinion, helps show off its real-world presence a bit more.
Unlike the rather dull-looking marketing images of the watch which fail to both show the way the dial and case play with the light, in person, this ceramic and blue version of the IWC Big Pilot’s watch is a real beauty. Honestly, based on the pictures alone, I would not be as enamored as I am when it comes to the watch. For this reason, I always try to advise people to save their ultimate opinion about a watch until they have seen one hands-on if they are on the fence about it. While aBlogtoWatch attempts to offer the “next best thing to seeing it in person,” at the end of the day, no opinion of a brand or particular watch model should focus on images alone – especially marketing images.
I was told that this is the first ceramic and titanium (for the crown and caseback) version of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch to come in this smaller 46mm-wide size (which is 15mm thick) – and I haven’t been able to track all the sizes enough to verify that. The ceramic has an almost glossier gunmetal finish which works with the metallic blue dial very well. The white and black hands along with the hour markers stand out well, offering the same fantastic legibility everyone knows comes with IWC’s own rendition of the classic “flieger” aviation watch. Aside from the minimal extra branding on the rear of the case, there is really little to make this IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive watch very “L.A.” but, as far as limited editions go, it is a very handsome and attractive addition to the brand’s larger pilot watch collection.
The in-house-made IWC caliber 5111 is an automatic with a long seven days of power reserve (operating at 3Hz) and a power reserve indicator (and the date) sharing space on the face with the main dial for the time. It offers a signature look for their stable aviation watch while also delivering a historic military pilot look people want from the model family.
Attached to the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive is a black “embossed fabric”-style calf leather strap with a folding deployant clasp that works really nicely together with the overall watch design. Limited to 250 pieces, IWC will offer this reference IW502003 IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive watch in both its new Rodeo Drive boutique and some other select IWC stores around the world. Price is $14,700. iwc.com