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Big Swiss incomer

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  • Big Swiss incomer

    So I have been thinking about picking up one of the IWC Big Pilots for some time. After the 55mm B-Uhr of WW2 Luftwaffe fame, IWC introduced the Big Pilot in 2002 as the 5002. 3 years later, this underwent a change to the 5004 model. Main change was the movement upgrade from a 2.5 Hz to a 3 Hz hi-beat version but there were some dial design changes too. A few years ago, the dial underwent some more changes and the current model is the 5009.

    The dial I prefer is that of the 5004. The power reserve display is at 3 (meaning no 3 numeral) and so IWC deleted the 9 in order to give a symmetry to the dial. The classic lume triangle was moved to into the minute track, (as opposed to under it in the 5002) and the other numerals were given a different font, size and placement,

    More importantly, the 5002 had a white date wheel with black numerals whereas the 5004 had a black date wheel with white numerals. For me, the latter is the right combination.

    Having spotted this example in the window of a jeweller's in a small town way up in Yorkshire, I went in to have a chat. This was only one of 3 second-hand watches in the window (the others were a fairly standard TT Datejust and a Breitling Colt).

    On the downside, it has no box or papers, there are some slight dings (it is a 2007 watch), the strap is aftermarket and some non-IWC drongo has tried to open the case with an ill-fitting tool. Plus, there was a common problem with the 5004 probably due to the big crown generating big torque - the crown threads on this one appear to have been stripped. Not a biggie but this was fixed in the 5009 design.

    So I went back the next day and we had a fairly grown-up conversation about the price in light of the required works to put it back to spec. However, this will not be a safe queen. It is going to be worn - a lot - and already is. I see this as a beater par excellence. If I want to find a Big Pilot safe queen, I would look at one of the BP annual calendars or even the perpetual calendars.

    Although the case is a whopping 46.2mm, the lugs are reasonably short, curve down and the design of the strap allows the leather to come straight down and curve around the wrist. In summary, this wears a lot smaller than it measures. Plus it is not that heavy and although it is approx 16mm high, it is in proportion to the rest of the case. The crystal is verging on flat, so there is little if any distortion when checking the time.

    The lack of complications means the three hands are very visible even from a distance. And the lume on the dial and hands is pretty effective.

    The crown is big and bold. So far it isn't bothering the back of my hand but it rather depends on how far back the watch is worn.

    So there you have it. An iconic part of the IWC range, big, bold, great looks. And infinitely more wearable than the original B-Uhr!

    Unfortunately, I can't upload any photos, even after resizing them, but if you already know what one looks like, you got it. And if you don't, it is only a Google search away!

    Anyone else a BP club member?
    Last edited by bfltd0; 27th June 2017, 12:09 AM.

  • #2
    Sounds great. I have 3 46mm watches and 1 47mm watch.

    I quite like the size.

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    • #3
      I'm currently wearing my Glycine F104 and just love how clear the big display is. It's so useful when I need to know the time quickly, plus the lume is lovely. At night it's like having a travel clock.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by John View Post
        Sounds great. I have 3 46mm watches and 1 47mm watch.

        I quite like the size.

        My only reservation about the Big Pilot was the size, I absolutely love the dial, but (apart from the B-Uhr) all my other watches are 43mm or less and even go down to 32mm.

        It was only when I really got the chance to wear one for a while that I was assured I would be able to sport this relative behemoth without looking or feeling ridiculous.

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        • #5
          Great write up and look forward to seeing pictures at some point.i have always liked them but felt the size just a bit much for me.
          Good to hear that it will be used and enjoyed without too much worry with regards condition
          Love the used of the word drongo- seldom heard but covers a lot of people !

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          • #6
            Originally posted by cakey View Post
            Love the used of the word drongo- seldom heard but covers a lot of people !
            That was perhaps the most acceptable noun I could use on this forum without incurring the wrath of the mods....................

            But it is a great word!

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            • #7
              Just a quick update.

              On balance, I thought the best course of action was to take the Big Pilot to an AD for a proper IWC service and bring it back to spec. Especially as it does need upgrading to the 5009 crown design. So it will be having a few weeks back in head office for a Swiss spa...............

              Interesting visit though - first dinged my knee hard on a practically invisible glass table-top (which bruised - the knee, not the table) then had a coke poured for me but it overflowed from the glass onto the said table. Should have asked for a discount on the service price.

              £620 for a full service and some components may have to be replaced at extra cost - estimate will come through in a week or two. More expensive than some Rolexes but as I believe it has probably not been serviced in a decade, I thought it was worth turning it back into top condition and have peace of mind for a few years.

              Probably see it again in 6-8 weeks so have donned the Daytona for the moment.

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