Although 2021 has seen IWC introduce a comparatively more compact 43mm version of its classic Big Pilot watch line, the days of truly massive Big Pilot models are far from over. Alongside the pivot to more standard sizes, the brand has continued to develop new iterations of the long-running 46mm case variant, and for its latest release, the brand uses this oversized personality to pay tribute to one of the boldest and flashiest cities on Earth – Las Vegas. The new limited-edition IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Las Vegas” captures the gambling spirit of “Sin City” with roulette-inspired details, while delivering a clean and handsome new colorway to one of the brand’s core models.
The 46mm stainless steel case of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Las Vegas” is a staple of the Big Pilot line, and like previous iterations, this should be far from a shrinking violet on the wrist. Bold, purposeful, and simple, this case design follows the classic flieger pattern with long tapering lugs, a narrow angular polished bezel, and a massive conical crown at 3 o’clock. The solid caseback is adorned with a special roulette wheel engraving inspired by the famous casinos of Las Vegas and provides a slightly underwhelming 60 meters of water resistance. However, like other models in the line the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Las Vegas” does have a trick up its sleeve when it comes to low pressure rather than the pressure increases found underwater. While IWC provides few details on how it works, the brand does claim that the sapphire crystal is secured against displacement in the event of a sudden drop in air pressure – for example, during a sudden rapid decompression in an airplane. Outside of the trick crystal and the unique caseback, the case finishing carries on the clean, utilitarian spirit of IWC’s other pilot watches with aggressive brushing across the main case punctuated by bright polishing on the bezel.
While the case of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Las Vegas” remains firmly rooted in the line’s utilitarian background, the silver-plated dial is allowed to evolve in a more playful direction. This silver surface gives off a suitably Las Vegas-esque flash in initial images, and with such a brilliant base the rest of the dial is wisely kept muted with a few smaller highlights. IWC maintains the classic flieger-style layout, with pilot hands and rounded printed Arabic numerals in black accented by stark white lume fills. The 3 o’clock power reserve indicator is a carryover from previous versions of the 46mm Big Pilot, but here IWC gives this familiar component an added flair with a red lumed hand and azurage finishing. It’s at 6 o’clock, however, where this dial’s most distinctive feature comes into play. In homage to Las Vegas’ world-famous casinos, IWC fits the 6 o’clock date window with its own spin on the roulette date wheel. Roulette date displays were a relatively common element in midcentury watch designs, but where most of these older roulette dates simply alternated between red and black text for each date’s text, IWC takes the concept a step further to imitate an actual roulette wheel more closely. Silver date numerals are printed on alternating squares of red and black, except for the first of the month, which as in roulette, is backed in green. This subtle yet funky addition adds a depth of character to an otherwise elemental design, with impressive attention to detail.
IWC powers the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Las Vegas” with its in-house 52110 automatic movement. The 52110 is a thoroughly contemporary and rugged powerplant, sporting innovations like an antimagnetic soft iron cage surrounding the movement and a unique Pellaton automatic winding system with modern ceramic components. Power reserve performance is highly robust thanks to twin mainspring barrels, measuring in at 168 hours of power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. IWC completes the package with a sharply tapering black leather strap with full pilot-style white contrast stitching.
With an outsize spirit and slickly integrated nods to casino culture, the limited-edition IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Las Vegas” may deliberately not be to everyone’s taste but undeniably delivers a bold and charismatic look. The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Las Vegas” is limited to only 250 units, and is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $13,900. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.