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IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Right-Hander Flips Collection On Its Head

IWC Big Pilot's Watch Edition Right-Hander Flips Collection On Its Head Watch Releases

Modifying brand classics without drawing the ire of followers is not an easy task. But when a watch collection, like the IWC Schaffhausen Big Pilot’s range, has usability at its core, providing an option that does nothing to detract from the original’s recognizable appearance — but instead extends the relevance of the collection to a new demographic — little can be said against it. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Right-Hander is the first of its family to feature a left-hand crown. This not only enables the watch to be worn on the right wrist without sacrificing access to the crown but also allows right-handed wearers who prefer to keep the crown away from their wrist the same kind of option that the positively received Tudor Pelagos LHD did upon release.

While both demographics are small segments of the industry, it makes sense for brands to pay attention to their needs. A watch purchase at this level is a very personal choice, and so giving potential buyers such an option is a wise move (even if this model would not be expected to become the best-selling piece in the range).

The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Right-Hander is inspired by the Big Pilot’s Watch Caliber 52 TSC, which originated in the 1940s. The hefty stainless steel case measures a daunting 46.2mm, maximizing legibility. Taking its cues from traditional cockpit instruments, this piece was conceived to make life for left-handed pilots (or lovers of aviation-themed watches) easier.

Anomalously, an estimated 40% of pilots are left-handed (way above the general population average, which stands at around 10%). With such an odd statistic in play, this release is, if anything, more overdue than it is overthought.

IWC Big Pilot's Watch Edition Right-Hander Flips Collection On Its Head Watch Releases

Powered by the in-house caliber 52010, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Right-Hander (ref. IW501012) protects its movement with a soft-iron inner case, designed to shield the movement from the effects of magnetic fields. Additionally, this automatic movement is fitted with ceramic components to further lessen the impact of potentially disruptive magnetic influences. Twin barrels provide this movement with a very generous seven-day power reserve, which is a huge boon (and effectively makes use of the plentiful real estate afforded by that 46mm+ case).

Aside from reliability, the prime focus when designing pilot watches is readability. A dark slate-colored dial is printed with high-contrast white indices and decorated with red flashes. A power-reserve indicator at 9 o’clock and a going seconds sub-dial at 3 o’clock give this time-and-date-only watch the appearance of a chronograph, at first glance, but keep things simple. The 6 o’clock date adds welcome functionality and sits comfortably on a display that uses the available space to great effect. Luminous hands and markers ensure this watch remains useable at night or in low-light/poor visibility conditions.

The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Right-Hander will be limited to just 250 pieces and available from both IWC boutiques and official retailers starting this month. Interestingly, the watch will debut first in Australia and France with three months exclusivity before it is rolled out across the whole sales network around November. Limiting a watch of this nature to such a small run will, no doubt, result in fast sales, as both left-handed users and right-handed collectors clamor for something timeless yet different. The price of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Right-Hander will be $14,200. Learn more about IWC and the brand’s aviation history at

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  • Swiss_Cheese

    Paging Mr. Wilkie for a comment on the crown.

    • Raymond Wilkie

      Strictly not an onion crown but it is lovely. How difficult is it to put on a lovely crown? The devil is in the detail.

  • ProJ

    I had to flip my display 180 degrees to enjoy the good ol’ Big Pilot.

    From a left handed person to IWC:

    No thanks.

  • Mikita

    “estimated 40% of pilots are left-handed”

    Why? Who collected such statistics and what’s the size of the pool?

    • Swiss_Cheese

      I’d guessing the survey was partly conducted at the North American Left Handed Pilots Association.

    • Independent_George

      There is this article. Don’t know how reliable it is, but Rob isn’t making stuff up.

      Still, like the idea that British Armed Forces members are sporting £5000 GBP Bremonts, I find it very unlikely that the average pilot is sporting a $14,000 three-hand watch that isn’t known for its accuracy.

  • Steve_Macklevore

    In a decade or so, people will look at 46mm diameter watches and wonder what on earth we were thinking.

    • Larry Holmack

      Steve…10 years ago guys that were on watch forum’s were saying the same thing.
      I’ve worn larger watches now since 2004…and since they’re still extremely popular with a certain segment of the market…I doubt they will go away.
      Buy what you like.

  • Independent_George

    Big Pilots leave me numb. Don’t dislike them. Don’t like them. It’s just a watch that I have no interest in. Maybe its a price/value issue.

    I do like that crown, though.

  • Raymond Wilkie

    I’m left handed ( not an airline pilot ) and I would never, ever wear my watch on my right wrist. That’s crazy talk. Also a left hand crown is much less diggy when I have it on.
    As for the watch, meh, bit sick of looking at them to be honest.

  • PowNation

    “an estimated 40% of pilots are left-handed” yet only 250 of these watches will be released, ha.

    I can appreciate IWC Big Pilots iconic and purposeful design, yet this latest left-hand crown release garners zero excitement and shouldn’t even qualify for a press release .

  • SuperStrapper

    These are obnoxiously big in person.

    • Larry Holmack

      I am going to have to take a drive down to the local IWC AD and check it out. I wear a 48 mm to 50 mm watch every day…and I’d like to see it on my wrist…that’s if the strap is long enough to fit. Not that I can afford it…but…it would be cool to see one in person.

  • Marceau Ratard

    I’m a lefty, an IWC fan, and I like big watches so I should be in heaven but this watch just doesn’t do it for me. If I were going to spend the money for an IWC Big Pilot, I’d get a minty pre-owned annual calendar version. I wear my watches on my right wrist and I like that the crown in not on the same side as my hand.

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