Flying High

The Military-Grade Cool IWC TOP GUN Watches Receive Their Very Own Movements, Here’s What to Know


January 13, 2019 Watches By
This week, the Palexpo facility in Geneva, Switzerland, will become the center of the watch world for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, a luxury watch show rivaled only by BaselWorld in relevance and prestige. We’ve got a team on the ground, there to bring you the most exciting releases. Follow our coverage here, and also be sure to check out Instagram. We’ll be posting to our feed throughout the week.

Upshot: Over a decade after first releasing the TOP GUN line (which has seen numerous updates over the years), Swiss watchmaker IWC is turning up the heat. This year the most notable change the Maison has made across their pilot’s watch range is the use of exclusive in-house movements. The move is part of a large trend taking place in the industry where brands try to further differentiate themselves from the competition by increasing their offering’s sense of exclusivity. But more than just boasting souped-up innards, these watches all offer extra.

Who It’s For:

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”

For those looking for more than just a capable mechanical pilot’s watch, this first-ever from IWC will land high on the list. Limited to just 500, this chronograph boasts a sand-colored ceramic case that the watchmaker says was inspired by the Mojave Desert where the Navy has its weapons testing facility. This unique look was achieved by using a combination of zirconium oxide and other metal oxides. But there is more to recommend this pilot’s chronograph than just the color of the case. All of the complications displayed in the robust 44.5mm case are driven by IWC’s very own 69380 movement. Of course, this exclusivity will cost more than a few bucks. $8,200 to be exact.

Key Specs
Price: $8,200
Availability: TDB; limited to 500 pcs.
Movement: IWC manufacture calibre 69380
Winding: Automatic
Case Diameter: 44.5mm
Case Thickness: 15.7mm
Case Material: Sand-colored ceramic
Water Resistance: 6 Bar
Unique Features: Unique sand-colored ceramic case; triple-register chrono; day-date function; in-house movement

IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN


Not entranced by IWC’s Ceretanium or Mojave Desert chronograph? 2019’s TOP GUN range still has something to offer with its Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN. Powered for the first time by a movement from the IWC 69000 family, the Chrono features high contrast white indices and hands along with a striking red hand at the 6 o’clock subdial. What’s more is buyers can strap this ceramic watch on their wrist for $650 less than the Mojave.

Key Specs
Price: $7,550
Availability: TDB
Movement: IWC manufacture calibre 69380
Winding: Automatic
Case Diameter: 44.5mm
Case Thickness: 15.7mm
Case Material: Ceramic
Water Resistance: 6 Bar
Unique Features: Ceramic case; triple-register chrono; day-date function; in-house movement

IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic TOP GUN


More or less a souped-up Mark series watch in a black ceramic case and boasting an in-house movement, this watch is ideal for those looking for a tool watch from IWC with a slightly more accessible price point ($5,500). Measuring in at 41mm the watch is sizable – but not as imposing as the chronographs within the same line. In addition to featuring a more reserved look than its siblings, the watch’s in-house IWC 32110 movement features an impressive 72-hour reserve.

Key Specs
Price: $5,500
Availability: TDB
Movement: IWC manufacture calibre 32110
Winding: Automatic
Case Diameter: 41mm
Case Thickness: 11.4mm
Case Material: Ceramic
Water Resistance: 6 Bar
Unique Features: Ceramic case; time and date displays; in-house movement

First Impressions: Pilot’s watches are a pretty specific subset of the watch world, but even within this clearly defined range it is striking how wide of a spread IWC has created within their TOP GUN line. Whether buyers are looking for a tool watch on the more affordable (a relative term if there ever was one) end of the spectrum, or a limited edition chronograph — IWC’s TOP GUN is well equipped to sate one’s hunger for a great tool watch.

Insight: The trend toward using more in-house movements isn’t just limited to IWC. Other notable watchmakers have been working to do the same. It’s been an interesting trend to witness, but it can sometimes feel like the focus is set too narrow on a watch’s innards. What distinguishes this range, however, is the introduction of in-house movements alongside attractive changes in case design and the use of superlative materials. This concerted effort to push boundaries both inside and outside of the watch is yet another reason why IWC is among the best in the world.

More from SIHH 2019

See more of our favorite new releases from Geneva. Read the Story