Newswatch: IWC Launches Limited Edition 43mm Markus Bühler Big Pilot's Watch With New Tourbillon
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Newswatch: IWC Launches Limited Edition 43mm Markus Bühler Big Pilot's Watch With New Tourbillon

Newswatch: IWC Launches Limited Edition 43mm Markus Bühler Big Pilot's Watch With New Tourbillon


The story behind both IWC and Markus Bühler has been passed down between horological fans for two decades. Following Markus being under IWC’s mentorship as an apprentice, he has grown to Associate Director of the Watch & Movement Assembly. However, the history behind The IWC Big Pilots is one that stems even further, which we will get to later on!

The work between IWC and Markus Bühler started in 2008 with the release of the “Markus Bühler” Big Pilot. It became almost a raging success on the par of the Patek Philippe 5711 (Well almost) and eventually led to the marvellous history of this fantastic collaboration!

Before we descend into the details of this model, it’s important to closely identify the work between Markus Bühler’s and IWC. Time we get to it. 


History Of The Big Pilot and Markus Bühler


Beginning in 1940, the Big Pilot collection debuted under the tight cap of 1000 military navigator watches. These “B-Uhr” watches, as they were promptly nicknamed, were given highly legible dials and pocket timepiece movements.


TOP GUN - Source - Brand’s Site

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By 2002, the watches evolved into an automatic movement that featured central seconds, adding a fresh take on the previous “B-Uhr” models. Given a new title, the “Grosse Fliegeruhr” or “Big Pilot” to English speakers (I wonder what Basil Fawlty would have made of them!) These watches were given rather large Panerai style dials at 46.2mm with an 8 hour power reserve. Oh, those were the times my friends. 

These watches continued to develop, and by 2007 included a sparkling new movement, the 51111. As versatile as a Submariner, these timepieces still prided themselves on bigger dials and crowns that were nearly as massive as the Deepsea Challenge

A new calendar version entered in 2006 with the collection featuring a new perpetual calendar. And in 2012 when Super Saturday gripped the nation with Brits Sir Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford and Jessica Ennis-Hill all winning Olympic gold in less than 45 minutes, the TOP GUN variation was released at a stonking 48mm.

In 2016, it featured an annual calendar complication and by 2018, the line celebrated 150 years with a brand new Big Date model. Overall, from 2002 to 2018, an incredible 97 variations of the line have been released, boasting the longevity, desirability and heritage of the collection.


The “Markus Bühler” Era

The horological master flexer first gained recognition during a contest in 2003. 


Source - Brand’s Site

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Starting off his career as a carpenter in a family owned business in Switzerland, at just 28 years old, Markus Bühler made the change to timepieces where he became an apprentice at IWC. Currently he is Associate Director of the Watch & Movement Assembly. 

On to that competition we were referring to, and he competed in a Prix IFHH contest as held by Institut de Formation à la Haute Horlogerie. The challenge was to see who had the capability of displaying a tension spring within a mainspring barrel. 

To the common horophile, this sounds like an incredibly difficult task. Markus however took the task one step further. He sought to boast both the slow and fast engine interplay on a turbine influenced mainspring barrel. 

However, it was perceived that this styling was infringing on the rules as it faced electrochemical concerns. Disqualification was on the horizon, but he argued that he used a very special liquid for the coating which didn’t fit the criteria of being an electrochemical concern. 

After this initial issue was discussed and resolved, he was crowned the winner! IWC took him on and released a limited edition 12 “Markus Bühler '' reference 5003 with all of them boasting his now iconic turbine over the small seconds indicator. Were these successful? Let’s just say that they all sold within half an hour! 

Now, they are in the market with a brand new, limited edition Big Pilot’s Markus Bühler Ref. IW329901. Question is, how wrist worthy is this new piece? Well, Timelords. Join us as we run through this exciting model and if it has evolved to be even snappier than its predecessor. 


Construction Of The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler Ref. IW329901


The previous editions were executed by the brand in their eagerness to show to the world the technical prowess of their young superstar. 

They featured out-sourced movements and a fairly basic design with the turbine. Yet, the latest rendition is a sure fire sign of IWC boasting their technical and design prowess to match what we have seen recently off the horological conveyor belt including the Lake Tahoe Perpetual Calendar. This was so hot, Lewis Hamilton was rocking it even before it hit boutique stores.


Source - Brand’s Site

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These particular limited edition models have been slashed down from their classic, 46mm Big Pilot case size, instead opting for a much more accessible and versatile 43mm. This put it on a par with some of the following timepieces you may want to consider buying from a reputable source like Chrono Hunter;


Breitling Navitimer B01 Chronograph 43mm - £7,550

TAG Heuer Formula 1 Senna Special Edition - £2,250

Longines Ultra Chron 43mm - £3,300


Considering it has a total thickness of around 14.6mm, it’s a fairly sizable timepiece, but nothing in comparison to other watches like the Rolex Deepsea Cameron which comes in at 44mm and a thickness of 17.7mm. A chunky monkey this certainly is.

The Big Pilot Markus Bühler deviates away from its previous steel construction, instead choosing to go all out with luxury in the form of a precious metal platinum case. 

They feature a delightful polished aesthetic which deviates away from the sporty finish of the brushed line. Don't feel like the heritage has been thrown to the hounds. The recognisable big crown, highly resistant sapphire crystal and anti reflective on both sides, on both the dial and the caseback are still adopted. These securities also allow for the watches to have a water resistance of 100 metres, ensuring you can dip your toes in the water.

The dial's face is all out Big Pilot (apart from the turbine of course!). For a collection that stems back to the 1940s, why change a winning formula. There are a few key components that are instantly recognisable as being linked with the collection.

Firstly, the dial is given a high contrast, lacquered black finish. The large, Arabic numerals are imprinted white and are filled with Super-Luminova. The dial features two very prominent sword shaped hands that are similarly filled with white for maximum visibility. The Super-Luminova filled, equilateral triangle located at 12 o’clock features the two classic dots at either side giving first rate visibility. 

We thoroughly admire the highly legible minute track that similarly boasts Super-Luminova. Meanwhile, the Arabic numerals and sword hands are plated with rhodium to enhance their shine. Of course, the real fun stuff comes in the form of the now iconic turbine shaped over the flying tourbillon indicator at 6 o’clock. 


The Turbine 

The highly characteristic aircraft turbine has been integrated with a flying minute tourbillon at 6 o’clock. 


Source - Brand’s Site

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The complication on its own account is a revolutionary complication that was invented in 1795 by Breguet. The complication counters the effects of Earth's gravity on the balance wheel and the spring, by rotating all of them while the movement is in operation.

In this instance, the balance and the escapement are kept within a small cage that rotates on its axis once a minute. The more mass and inertia behind the turbine shielded complication, the more energy is required to keep the mechanism functioning. This is where the turbine comes into play!

The turbine is crafted from titanium, known for its super lightweight properties that underwent intricate milling to cut away excess material. Each of the turbine blades that are present on the turbine are polished by hand, resulting in a stunning aesthetic. 

Furthermore, the turbine is placed on the top of the tourbillon cage instead of a regulator, in order to negate as much weight as possible. The turbine tourbillon is very modern, especially since it’s made up of just 56 parts and weighs an incredibly light 0.663 grams. To put this into context this is nearly 50 times lighter than the Richard Mille RM UP-01

Protected by a Diamond Shell coating on the escape wheel and pallet lever, it reduces friction and enhances energy flow to the movement. The combination of the stupendous complication with the gun metal turbine is perfect for the steely horologist!


Technical Features Of The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler Ref. IW329901


Fear not, Timelords. The turbine design aesthetic for the 82905 calibre is as suave and sophisticated as James Bond…with a licence to thrill budding enthusiasts and collectors.


Source - Brand’s Site

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A few components of the movement, including the plates, bridges and rotor are blackened with PVD coating, undergoing a laser engraving and then finished with a rhodium plating in the engraved areas. 

The 82905 movement on a technical side is nothing to be sniffed at. Offering 80 hours of power reserve and a hardy beat of 28,800VpH, it’s made up of 197 components and given a little luxury with 25 jewels. Sure, it may not be the Jaeger-LeCoultre Calibre 101 with 98 parts, but it’s still a powerful movement with a lot to give. 

Boasting a flying minute tourbillon with a turbine design, hacking mechanism and a peloton automatic winding system, can this movement really epitomise the brand any more? We don’t think so!


Our View Of The New IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler Ref. IW329901


This timepiece has got us locked into a world of timekeeping greatness. And we just don’t think we can escape!


Source - Brand’s Site

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The key to success here is that the Schaffenhausen brand has enhanced their great aviation history with a stunning play on the Big Pilot alongside previous works of the young prodigal son. The Big Pilot is steeped in history, stemming as far back as 1940. Of course, it has come a long way, especially since the collaboration with Bühler in 2008 which released a cult version of the Big Pilot, adorned with a delightful turbine aesthetic at 6 o’clock. 

The latest variation boasts a beautiful luxury case, made up of the gorgeous 950 platinum. Sized at a much smaller 43mm, the piece is a modern variation of the past watches. Opting for a high contrast black face against white Arabic numerals, we do like the clear visibility of the timepieces, especially since the dial is daubed with Super-Luminova, as per the fully lumed dial offering seen in the Pilot Automatic 41 Black Aces. Featuring a snow white face with prominent black Arabic numerals, we particularly enjoy the Black Aces emblem at 6 o'clock!

Absolutely prime for aviators due to its excellent legibility, the watches combination of a platinum, precious metal case with rugged, aviation face is perfect for the everyday wearer. 

Look fly with the black Cordovan leather strap that features none other than Markus Bühler’s signature on the inner side of the strap. We particularly enjoy the linkup of platinum with the black strap. There’s nothing nicer than a quality strap with a carefully crafted, beautiful metal on top.

If we were to cobble together a few improvements of our own… we couldn’t! IWC have complimented an unorthodox case material with a highly unique turbine design. Keep an eye out for that small red dot on one of the rotors. That actually indicates the seconds, showcasing the combination of the flying tourbillon with the small seconds complication. 

We recommend you wear this with a sharp, grey pinstripe suit when you are swanning around landing big deals in the office, or if you are feeling a little more relaxed, you may want to go for a black knitted turtleneck. Of course, you will want to be comfy during those Friday after work drinks, so wear a brown suede jacket with a white fleece lining to feel like an aviator, and boast the blackness for everyone to see.


Where Can You Buy The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler


Capped at 51 pieces, you can buy an IWC Big Pilot’s 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler Ref. IW329901 at retail for £119,000 at the time of writing.


Other Specs Of The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Tourbillon Markus Bühler


Let’s save you some time with our handy grid to succinctly inform you of its essentials.

Reference Numbers

Dial Colour




Black, Lacquered Face

Condura Leather Strap

950 Platinum


82905 Calibre


Hacking mechanism, flying minute tourbillon, hours, minutes, seconds 

Case Back

Exhibition Caseback

Water Resistance

100 metres

Case Height




Strap Width




Movement Components







So, if you are similarly obsessed with the previous Big Pilot’s Markus Bühler, we can safely say that this is a definite upgrade! We’ve run through the stats and analysed the data to find that we absolutely adore this timepiece. But if you aint got close to £120,000 to drop, you may like this recent feature for a more suitable way to buy an entry level timepiece;

Here's Our Best Men's Watches Under £5,000 For The Ultimate Flexer

Powering forwards from the 1940’s with the original Big Pilot, 2008 saw the introduction of the Markus Bühler edition. The latest adaptation of this piece has allowed for the combination of the storied history, with a stunning inclusion of platinum case with a classy turbine element. 

With all the latest updates and features, we still have to tip our horological hats to the awesome features that remain part of the Big Pilot. This is certainly the case when we consider IWC have been using timeless aesthetics like the classic aviation reference, the triangle with the two dots at 12 o’clock. 

That's it, Timelords. They have cemented themselves in the horological halls of fame with another play on the stunning design from Markus Bühler. Since the collection is capped at 51 pieces worldwide, you’ve got to be quick to get your hands on it. If you aren't so lucky to get it at retail, you may find the secondary market is the way forward. Struggling to find a platform to buy a watch for the best possible price? 

Well, we’ve got just the answer for you!



Feeling an itch to buy an IWC Big Pilot Markus Bühler? Want to feel the luxurious weight of 950 platinum? Save yourself some hard earned time and talk to Chrono Hunter here. Boasting a strong selection of established luxury retailers, we have your best interests in mind so you don’t get a raw deal. Buy or sell the smart way and check out our outstanding Trustpilot reviews to see why we are your essential source when you want to buy a watch or sell a watch

Whether purchase or sale, Chrono Hunter can ascertain the true value of a timepiece. Receive offers in less than 24 hours from our verified array of luxury retailers and enjoy a quick turnaround, peerless service and unrivalled brand expertise like no other. 

Further Reading: 

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