After nearly 20 years of partnership with Mercedes-AMG, IWC Schaffhausen has launched two special Big Pilot’s Watch editions to celebrate the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. One features a case and crown of 18-carat Armor Gold, while the second is IWC’s first timepiece with a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) case.
The Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 Ref. IW501201 has a case and crown made of 18-carat Armor Gold, a black dial and a black rubber strap with microfibre inlay. The black and gold colour code is inspired by the exterior paintwork and interior finishing of the recently launched Mercedes-AMG G 63 “Grand Edition.”
Armor Gold is an innovative alloy that elevates the hardness values of gold to a whole new level and makes this comparatively soft, precious metal much more resistant to external influences. Thanks to an improved microstructure, this special alloy is significantly harder and more wear-resistant than conventional 5N gold. The combination of sand-blasted surfaces and polished edges lends this Big Pilot’s Watch a classy, contemporary character.
The Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 Ref. IW506201 is the first IWC timepiece to feature a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) case, engineered in collaboration with the German Aerospace Center (DLR). Unlike conventional carbon fibre-reinforced polymers, the fibres of this composite material are embedded in a matrix of ceramic rather than polymer. Therefore, CMC components are extremely damage-tolerant.
Because they are also insensitive to thermal shocks, they are the material of choice for applications with extremely high requirements in terms of lightness, strength, and temperature resistance – from aerospace to the manufacturing of brake discs for sports and luxury cars.
The starting point for manufacturing a CMC watch case is a conventional carbon-fibre-reinforced polymer. In a heat treatment called pyrolysis, lasting several days, the polymer matrix is converted to carbon, leaving behind a dense weave of fibres embedded in a porous carbon matrix. Subsequently, silicon crystals are placed on top of the component, and everything is heated in an oven.
During this so-called siliconisation, silicon is pulled into the cavities and chemically reacts with the carbon, forming a new matrix made of silicon carbide ceramic. After finishing with diamond tools, the CMC cases exhibit a matte black colour and a unique structure determined by the fibres, making each piece truly unique.
“The manufacturing process for this lightweight and strong material is extremely complex. To achieve perfect quality, we had to overcome countless challenges – from selecting the right raw materials for the fibres and the matrix to defining the exact parameters for the different steps of the process. With its first CMC watch case, IWC again demonstrates its expertise in engineering advanced material solutions,” explains Lorenz Brunner, the Research and Innovation manager at IWC.
In addition to the Big Pilot’s characteristic power reserve display at 3 o’clock, both new editions feature a small second counter at 9 o’clock. The opposing subdials with external white rings imitate the typical headlights on the front side of the G-Class. The black dials are embossed with a relief-like technical structure inspired by the air intakes of Mercedes-AMG performance cars. Unlike the classic Big Pilot’s Watch, which has printed numerals and indices, these special editions feature appliques that have been PVD-coated in black and filled with luminous material.
Both versions of the Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 are powered by the IWC-manufactured 52010 calibre, a highly robust and precise automatic movement. Parts of the winding system that are subject to particularly high stress are manufactured from virtually wear-free zirconium oxide ceramic.
Developed by IWC’s former Technical Director Albert Pellaton during the 1940s, the ingenious self-winding mechanism uses even the smallest movements of the rotor in both directions to build up a power reserve of seven days in two barrels. The movements are visible through tinted sapphire glass back, which features a Mercedes-Benz star, and are reminiscent of the spare wheel cover on the backside of the G-Class.
The Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 editions in Armor Gold and CMC are available through IWC boutiques or online at IWC.com. These timepieces are eligible for registration under the My IWC care program, which offers a 6-year extension to the standard 2-year International Limited Warranty.