IWC Introduces the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar “Top Gun Lake Tahoe”

Now in white ceramic.

Having made a splash with the release of the Ingenieur back in March, IWC now returns with an addition to its military-inspired aviator’s watch collection with the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar “Top Gun Lake Tahoe”. While IWC is no stranger to ceramic as a case material, this is the first time the signature IWC perpetual calendar has been combined with white ceramic, certainly one of the brand’s most popular case materials.

Initial thoughts

Since its 2022 debut, the Colours of Top Gun collection – comprised of pilot’s watches with cases in coloured ceramic other than black – has consistently been a bestseller. The white ceramic chronograph in particular was especially sought after, enough that it sold for above the retail price on the secondary market for a brief period.

Therefore, it is no surprise that IWC has now introduced a white ceramic perpetual calendar, adding the popular case material to its trademark complication. Fans of the perpetual calendar will not be disappointed since the dial design sticks to a tried-and-tested formula.

The overall aesthetics, however, are striking. The juxtaposition of the matte black dial and white ceramic transforms the often elegant complication into something sportier and cooler.

On the other hand, owners of the Top Gun chronograph in white ceramic might be disappointed that the material is no longer unique to that model, but it was practically a given IWC would launch more white ceramic models given the commercial success of the material.

With a price tag of US$40,900, the Lake Tahoe edition is slightly more expensive than last year’s Mojave Desert perpetual calendar in caramel-coloured ceramic. However, this price increase is par for the course in luxury watchmaking, especially now with above-average inflation. And in absolute terms it is acceptably priced for a smart complication and solid movement inside a case made of an unusual material.

Inspired by a water body

The Lake Tahoe Perpetual Calendar is the newest addition to the Top Gun line-up, which is named after the U.S. navy fighter pilot programme known as TOPGUN. Similar to its chronograph counterpart, the perpetual calendar utilises white ceramic for its case.

The model gets its name from Lake Tahoe, which sits close to Naval Air Station Fallon, where the TOPGUN school and training facilities are located. And the colour? It is inspired by navy’s white dress uniforms.

Last year’s Top Gun in white ceramic

With a diameter of 46.5 mm and a height of 15.6 mm, the Lake Tahoe is marginally thicker than the standard Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar in steel or gold, with  the case size growing by 0.3 mm and the thickness by 0.6 mm. 

Save for the colour, the overall design composition is identical to the standard Big Pilot’s Perpetual Calendar, including the distinct “onion” crown at three. 

The crisp white case provides a striking contrast to the matte black dial featuring hour and minute hands coated with white Super-Luminova. All the indicators – including the four-digit year disc between seven and eight, plus the moons – are in a consistent white hue.

The reverse of the watch shows off the cal. 52615 that includes the Pellaton winding system and twin barrels that deliver a seven-day power reserve.

Even more impressive is the remarkable perpetual calendar module created by IWC’s technical chief Kurt Klaus in the 1980s that can be set entirely through the crown (but only forwards, and not backwards).

And the moon phase is also notable. With the use of a reductive gear train, the double moon phase only deviates by one day in 577.5 years, far surpassing the industry norm of 122.5 years.

Key facts and price

IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar “Top Gun Lake Tahoe”
Ref. IW503008

Diameter: 46.5 mm
Height: 15.6 mm
Material: White ceramic
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 60 m

Movement: Cal. 52615
Functions: Hours, minutes, power reserve display, perpetual calendar displaying the date, day, month and four-digit year and moon phase for both northern and southern hemispheres
Winding: Self-winding
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: Seven days

Strap: Rubber strap

Limited edition: No
Availability: Available at IWC boutiques, retailers and starting in July 2023
Price: US$40,900

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