Sometimes you just really want a big watch… and, apparently, other times you want a huge one. Have no doubt that this 55mm-wide replica IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watches 55 timepiece is barely wearable in most instances. I mean, yes, you can rather easily (and surprisingly comfortably) attach the titanium case to your wrist on the plush leather strap – but this is a pure novelty watch through and through.
It’s sort of a shame that timepieces like this need to cost so much money. That means only a handful of well-funded weirdo collectors will be able to enjoy (from time to time) a massive modern timepiece such as this that is based on historic military pilot watches built for a certain German army around a certain global conflict during the early middle of the 20th century. Circus size and controversial inspirations are probably a good thing when you want to sex up a wearable desk clock. On that note, the IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage Watch 55 would make an excellent desk (or dashboard) clock. Unfortunately, despite the large case size, it doesn’t have a long power reserve.
If anything, the biggest let down in a timepiece such as this that IWC didn’t make better use of the space inside. With all that case real estate, they could have easily included some movement with a power reserve of at least week or more. I mean, the standard IWC Big Pilot’s watch is both an automatic and has a power reserve of about a week. Instead, IWC preferred to go an alternative route and get a bit more vintage chic with the mechanism inside of this reference 5104 timepiece.
For the movement, IWC chose their in-house-made caliber 98300 which operates at 2.5Hz (18,000bph) and has a power reserve of just 46 hours, being manually wound. The idea here is likely that IWC leather strap replica watches wanted to convey the most pure sense of “old-time winding” since on most accounts the caliber 98300 (despite its contemporary construction) is based on rather old horological architecture. What it lacks in things like performance, complexity, and convenience, it makes up for in feeling like you are winding up an old timepiece – which is exactly the feeling you want while driving around in your modern (likely German) automobile enjoying electronic… everything… as you appreciate the tick tick tick of your timepiece inspired by yesterday’s yesterday.
Back in January 2016 during SIHH. Both are limited editions, and both are inspired by the historic 52-caliber T. S. C timepiece. That original from World War II was also 55mm wide but in steel, not nicely machined titanium. This more rough Big Pilot’s Heritage 55 is the lower production of the two models, but from a wearability and movement perspective the reference 5103 IWC Big Pilot’s Heritage 48 watch is a better choice. Not only does it have a much more interesting in-house-made IWC 59215 movement cheap fake watches (a 59000 family movement stripped of the automatic rotor and power reserve indicator, but still operating at 4Hz with 8 days of power reserve), but it is also wearable… and costs less too. Unlike this ref. 5104 model that is limited to 100 pieces, the 5103 (full reference number is IW510301) is limited to 1000 pieces – and that’s probably a good idea since there will be more demand.