IWC’s latest is an inspired by the legendary off-roader made by its longtime partner Mercedes-Benz, the G-Wagen. More specifically, the Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 is named after the luxury, high-performance G 63 made by the carmaker’s performance tuning subsidiary AMG.
Available in two variants, the G 63 edition retains the traditional outline of the model, but brings along novel new materials, namely a hardened gold alloy known as Armor Gold and ceramic matrix composite (CMC), a carbon fibre composite containing silicon carbide ceramic for added hardness.
IWC rolls out a lot of Big Pilot limited editions, probably too many, but this is one of the more appealing recent editions. The basic features of the Big Pilot G 63 are appealing – novel materials, a functional design, and IWC’s seven-day movement.
The textured dials and sub-seconds are both novel features for a Big Pilot. They set the new pair part from other models in the line, but don’t stray too far from the traditional Big Pilot look. More interesting are the case materials – hardened gold or silicon-infused carbon composite – which are both a first for IWC. Though brands like Hublot and Richard Mille have long made such materials a specialty, they are unusual for IWC.
Notably, both versions have Super-Luminova matched with the case material, beige for the gold model and grey for CMC, which feels a bit forced. I would have preferred a neutral white Super-Luminova. Another aspect of the design that’s a miss is the case back, which bears the Mercedes-Benz logo and a somewhat cheesy motto.
The G 63 connection is, however, a mystery since the Big Pilot’s watch is, well, a pilot’s watch. The iconic Mercedes off-roader is a land-bound vehicle. Like the recent Panerai and Brabus tie up, this collaboration doesn’t make sense.
Still, the intrinsic appeal of the watches themselves are clear, except they come at a price. The Armor Gold version costs CHF35,000, which is more or less the going rate for a solid-gold Big Pilot’s Watch, so that’s acceptable enough.
The CMC version, however, is CHF44,000. Perhaps inspired by the pricing benchmarks of Richard Mille, it’s even more expensive than the Big Pilot’s perpetual calendar in ceramic, making the price tag difficult to justify, despite the exotic and novel nature of CMC.
An off-road pilot’s watch
The luxe version of the Big Pilot G 63 has a case in 18k Armor Gold. According to IWC, Armor Gold is an alloy that’s “significantly harder and more wear-resistant than conventional 5N gold”. Though the brand doesn’t reveal the exact nature of the alloy, it is likely either a composite alloy mixed with ceramic like Hublot’s Magic Gold, or a gold alloy that’s been given surface hardening treatment.
The Big Pilot G 63 in Armor Gold measures exactly the same as the standard steel Big Pilot, which is 46.2 mm by 14.4 mm high. However, its CMC counterpart is slightly larger, 46.5 mm by 14.6 mm, due to the nature of carbon composite. The carbon composite case requires a metal inner case to hold the screw-down case back, resulting in slightly larger dimensions.
The G 63 edition in CMC isn’t the first Big Pilot with a carbon-composite case, that honour goes to the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Black Carbon launched in 2020. Anecdotal evidence, however, suggests the earlier model suffered from problems with the durability of the composite case, which might why be CMC was developed.
According to IWC, CMC begins as typical carbon-fibre reinforced polymer that is heat treated to induce porosity in the material. Silicon is then infused into the material and fills the cavities, creating a silicon carbide ceramic matrix inside the material. The result is a composite that is more durable than average carbon fibre composites.
While most Big Pilot’s Watch models have a central seconds hand, the Big Pilot G 63 has a subsidiary seconds at nine o’clock that gives the dial near-perfect symmetry. Moreover, it has a stamped crosshatch pattern “inspired by the air intakes of Mercedes-AMG performance cars”, while the white-ringed registers are meant to evoke the headlights of the G 63.
Even though the automotive aesthetics are a bit of a stretch, the result is clean, functional style that suits the Big Pilot’s Watch.
Both versions the same cal. 52010 that’s visible through a tinted sapphire back. The display back is printed with the Mercedes-Benz emblem and modelled on the spare tyre cover on the back of the G-Wagen.
The cal. 52010 is the brand’s second-generation seven-day movement with automatic winding. It features the trademark Pellaton winding mechanism and twin barrels.
Key facts and price
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63
Ref. IW501201 (18k Armor Gold)
Ref. IW506201 (CMC)
Diameter: 46.2 mm (Armor Gold); 46.5 mm (CMC)
Height: 14.4 mm (Armor Gold); 14.6 mm (CMC)
Material: 18k Armor Gold or Ceramic matrix composite (CMC)
Water resistance: 100 m
Movement: Cal. 52010
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, and date
Frequency: 28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Power reserve: Seven days
Strap: Rubber strap
Limited edition: No
Availability: Available at IWC boutiques, and IWC.com
Price: CHF35,000 in Armor Gold; CHF44,000 in CMC
For more information, visit IWC.com.
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