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IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive Watch Releases

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.

A photo posted by aBlogtoWatch (@ablogtowatch) on

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.

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive Watch Releases

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.


IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Boutique Rodeo Drive Watch Releases

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.

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    edition boutique Rodeo Drive, really. next will be the Sunday morning coffee around the corner edition. I like the watch and while still too big for me making it a “special edition” for the opening of a store seems so gimmicky. no doubt the 90210 peeps will buy it up just because it is socal and well that is some other world out there. Aside from that it is a nice clean dial and I am sure needs to be seen in person. now take another 4 to 6 mm out and you got something wearable.

  • Waikato7

    46mm. It’s a Big Pilot. It’s iconic. And this is its size. Plenty of 40-42mm pilots watches out there. 46mm suits my wrist. Very cool.

    • Jeffc2

      You are the 1%.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    Lady’s and Gentlemen, I give you the most over priced watch of the year. That said, it is lovely. Being how am a leftie and wear my watch quite loose and that crown being only slightly smaller than a golf ball, I can see it annoying me. Thanks to the designers for omitting the 1 & 2 and on the power reserve that’s helped loads to remind me to wind the thing, it might never had occurred to me,

  • 15 mm thick case? Yikes – that is in the chronograph or dive watch range. Maybe the 8 day power reserve made it thicker, otherwise no excuse. And as Raymond noted, this is expensive for what you get. Lovely blue dial though.

    • Marius

      I agree with your comments. I also find the price too high, in fact, my main issue with this brand is that if you look at the entire IWC range, they are about 25-30% more expensive than a comparable JLC or Glashütte Original. For instance, an IWC Portugiese Hand wound is almost $10k, whereas a JLC Master Ultra thin is around $7.5k. IWC makes nice watches, but not better than JLC or GO, so I can`t see how they justify these prices.

      • TrevorXM

        “I can`t see how they justify these prices”

        They don’t have to justify anything. The prices are what they are because people will pay it. If people stop buying, then the prices go down. IWC and Panerai are two brands that seem to both live in a fantasy world for a business model, their prices suspended by gossamer and moonbeams at two to three times what they should be by any objective measure based on comparable watches/brands, and people keep on buying anyhow. Marketing and image triumph over reality.

  • Larry Holmack

    Smaller 46 mm case???? Wow…how much larger is the larger case??? Don’t get me wrong…If I could afford one…I would have one. In the mean time….I just have to buy what I can afford. Humm…now where’s that Timex catalog I got in the mail?????

    • Marius

      The older case was 48 mm.

      • Larry Holmack

        Thanks….I did not know that.

    • Emperius

      40mm max for me.

      • Larry Holmack

        Well….I am 6’6″ tall and the size of an NFL offensive lineman….and I have a 23 cm wrist….a little over 8.75″. With my giant sized wrist….a 40 mm watch looks like I am wearing a ladies watch…so mainly I stick to 46 – 48 mm’s.

        • Jeffc2

          You’re the exception, the 1% that can actually wear this watch.

          • Larry Holmack

            I’ve been the exception since I was 15 years old….back when Nixon was the US President!!! I only wish I had 1%’er money!!!

  • Questwatch

    Like trained dogs : IWC ? to Big…. why bother commenting if you know IWC is Big in the pilots. Man size watches. Get an Explorer if you fancy a ladies size. Big Pilots Rule !

  • Chaz

    IWC “Big Pilots”, in all iterations since the first gen, will never top the first gen for attractiveness.


  • Marius

    Is the author of this article sure that the price of this watch is correct? I ask because a standard Big Pilot, on a steel case retails for $14,700, so this limited edition model, with a ceramic case should be priced higher. As far as I know, the standard ceramic Big Pilot costs around $17,500.

    • Ariel Adams

      That is the price directly from IWC. I think it is part of overall price reductions (which is a good thing) since it is sold directly at the boutique and not via a third-party authorized dealer.

      • Marius

        Ah, ok, thank you for the info. Its a pretty cool offer, because when I read the article I was certain they would price it at around $18-19,000.

  • word-merchant

    Good looking watch, and nice to finally see the return of the 9. Hopefully this augers well for the promised Pilot revamp in 2016.

    Four questions:

    1. Has IWC ditched the nasty Top Gun logo that so blighted previous BPs, from the case-back?
    2. Has IWC applied a unique numbering scheme to this limited edition, or does the side of the case read ‘one of 250’?
    3. IWCs that used the previous incarnation of this movement weren’t best known for accuracy (the main reason I left the brand). Has the latest movement helped here?
    4. Marketing material used to state that the movement was force-braked after 7 days – 168 hours. Certainly not true with the two IWCs I used to own. Anyone know about this claim and whether it still applies?

    Any answers gratefully received.

  • mtnsicl

    Is that a counterfeit Parnis? Haha!

  • SuperStrapper

    Such a classic look, and I’d love to own one. Problem is, the watch has been ‘homaged’ hard and put away wet constantly, for years. By the time I finish posting this there will be 2 new ebay brands offering big pilots, luminors, and submariners for a wink and a cigarette. I feel like IWC is a brand you want get into the more unique stuff with when it comes to actually owning one.

  • spiceballs

    Like the dial (not so much the size or price) hands, and ceramic but wonder how robust the case may prove in the longer term, especially where the steel spring bars connect the strap? Experienced a similar problem before, albeit with a cheap plastic-cased Casio.

  • iamcalledryan

    Love that ceramic case – like liquid black gold, only it’s solid and ceramic.

  • Nelson

    I think the crown is too big. It may be a bit uncomfortable.

  • Jeffc2

    When will IWC make watches for people who weigh under 230lbs? 48 and 46mm is ridiculous.

  • wallydog2

    I’d have to wear it on my right ankle. (Left leg, I couldn’t get it up close enough to my bifocals. Arthritis’ a bitch.

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