Despite being one of the more complex and premium models within the brand’s modern lineup, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar frequently serves as the basis for thematic colorways and limited editions. While IWC’s perpetual calendar mechanism was originally designed by Kurt Klaus and developed during the 1980s, it has been updated and improved a number of times throughout the years, and the most recent iteration of this movement has been playing an increasingly prominent role within IWC’s contemporary catalog, with the various Big Pilot’s Watch versions easily being among the most famous models to feature it. As its latest new release for 2023, IWC has given this fan-favorite timepiece the white ceramic “Lake Tahoe” treatment, and the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe represents a thoroughly modern rendition of one of the brand’s signature pilot’s watch designs.
The ceramic cases found throughout IWC’s Top Gun collection feature colors that are inspired by the landscapes surrounding the Top Gun Flight Academy. IWC worked directly with the Pantone Color Institute to create these specific colors, and “Lake Tahoe” is the name of the icy white colorway that is intended to be reminiscent of the snow on the mountains of its namesake’s region, as viewed by the Top Gun fighter jet pilot students who frequently fly above them. We previously reviewed the standard chronograph model that features the brand’s Lake Tahoe colorway, and if you’re curious about how these white ceramic cases wear on the wrist, you can find our full hands-on review of the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph Top Gun Lake Tahoe here.
Crafted from white ceramic, the case of the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe measures 46.5mm in diameter by 15.5mm thick, and since the vast majority of its size is occupied by the dial, the perpetual calendar versions of the brand’s pilot watches ultimately make for a rather sizable presence on the wrist. Sapphire crystals are fitted to both the dial side of the watch and its screw-down stainless steel display case back, and despite the complex functionality of its movement, all adjustments are made through the onion-shaped stainless steel winding crown at 3 o’clock, which screws down to the case in order to help guarantee the watch’s 60 meters of water resistance.
Set against the crisp white ceramic case is a black dial that features all-white printing for maximum contrast. Like other IWC models that rely on this same movement, the dial of the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe features a four-register layout with a rectangular window that displays the year tucked between the 7 o’clock and 8 o’clock hour markers. However, unlike other Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar models, the dial of the new Top Gun Lake Tahoe edition embraces an entirely black-and-white appearance, without a single pop of color on the hands or even the double moonphase disc. The hands follow a similar aesthetic as the dial with black-finished boarders and white luminous sections, while the rubber strap is bright white to match the case, and it is fitted with a signed stainless steel deployant clasp.
Just like other models that offer this dial layout and functionality, the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe is powered by the brand’s Caliber 52615 automatic movement, which features the most recent iteration of IWC’s perpetual calendar mechanism that was first developed during the 1980s. Running at a frequency of 28,800vph (4 Hz), the IWC Cal. 52615 features the brand’s signature Pellaton winding system, and it includes two mainspring barrels in order to offer users a rather generous power reserve of approximately 168 hours (seven days). In addition to having a perpetual calendar that will not require any manual adjustment until the year 2100, the moonphase display on the IWC Cal. 52615 shows the moon as it is seen from both the northern and southern hemispheres, and it is accurate to just one day every 577.5 years.
Watches with ceramic cases almost always cost a premium, and this is certainly true for the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe, which is accompanied by an official retail price of $40,900 USD. While this makes the new Lake Tahoe edition the exact same price as the “Mojave Desert” version with its sand-colored ceramic case, it also represents a fairly significant increase compared to the standard stainless steel versions of the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar, with the additional price premium being the exact same as the retail cost of an entire IWC Pilot’s Chronograph watch in stainless steel. That said, between its large case size, complex functionality, and stark white appearance, the new IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe is easily one of the most striking and eye-catching models in the brand’s current lineup. For more information on the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Top Gun Lake Tahoe, please visit the brand’s website.