Chrono Hunter's Thoughts On The New IWC "Lake Tahoe" Inspired Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Watch
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Chrono Hunter's Thoughts On The New IWC "Lake Tahoe" Inspired Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Watch

Chrono Hunter's Thoughts On The New IWC "Lake Tahoe" Inspired Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar Watch


Ever wanted to live your piloting dreams? Soar the sky in a spitfire or touchdown to applause in a Boeing 747? IWC have been making childhood dreams come true since the Big Pilot collection debuted in the 1940s. Looking for further pilot watch inspiration with a dash of vintage? Fly up, up and away with some of Chrono Hunter’s other articles to get you in the aviation mood;



Originally created for the German Air Force, IWC’s Big Pilot watches have evolved from the classic steel pieces with oversized dial face and luminescent triangle to the brand spanking new "Lake Tahoe" TOP GUN Big Pilot model.

Without exposing too much, too soon regarding updates to the latest Big Pilot piece, join Chrono Hunter as we navigate our way through the very exciting IWC “Lake Tahoe” TOP GUN Big Pilot timepiece. 


History Of The Big Pilot Collection


As the name suggests, the Big Pilot collection is one of the behemoths from IWC.

Mark XII - Source - Newsroom IWC

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The watches originally measured a colossal 55mm, a very clear ode to the “Big” aspect of the title! Mind you, even Mr. Universe might have issues flexing this on his wrist. 

Home to a luminescent triangle at 12 o’clock which simultaneously had two smaller dots, one at either side of the triangle, the hands were shaped like the end of a quill in a sharp tapered design. The highly bulbous crown sat at 3 o’clock. Instantly, the timepiece is designed to be Maximilian, promoting size for pilots who needed to quickly check the time and alter the model with gloves. 

This iconic pilot’s watch collection would develop later on with the Mark X edition, requested by the British Ministry of Defence in the 1940s. This later led to the Mark XI model featuring a subtle dial face. The clocks paused for a while as the Big Pilot fell silent until 2002 when the brand resurrected the collection. Talk about going back to the future. But there’s no time to dawdle Marty. 

The Big Pilot 5002 soared onto the scene at SIHH with the latest Pellaton winding movement and an extremely solid 7 day power reserve. More week proof than weekend-proof! The case size was decreased to 46mm and the dial was given a little more functionality through a power reserved indicator and date window. 

The pilot’s watches would continue to evolve. In 2006, the Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar was released with the same impressive 7 day power reserve but this time, with a four digit year display and four sub dials. Launched in 2012, the “TOP-GUN” series utilised ceramic cases and offered a more militarised dynamic to the Big Pilot collection. Now all Chrono Hunter needs is a green dial watch like the Rolex Hulk to really sell the military vibe!

Of course, there’s no rest for the wicked in the horological game! The rundown of the best new watches of 2023 is almost upon us and IWC is definitely in with a shout! They have sought to expand the Big Pilot collection as consistently as Erling Haaland bangs in goals. 

In 2022, the brand released the “Colours of TOP GUN” which expanded on a few different Pilot’s watches with a new lease of invigorating ceramic colour. Now in June 2023, the brand has topped the billing again in a release as big as the new “Barbie” film. Did you see that dazzling timepiece Ryan Gosling wore to the premiere? 

As a rather affordable entry-level TAG Heuer Carrera, priced at £2,750 (as of July 2023), the watches may as well have fallen off the Barbie set with its neon pink dial! Oh Ken, you are really spoiling us with your horological delights. Come on Barbie…it’s time to party!

Let’s get into the nitty gritty as we give our expert thoughts on the new "Lake Tahoe" TOP GUN Big Pilot timepiece.


Start Your Engines


For those of you who are Formula 1 fanatics, you may have already noticed the wonderfully new white ceramic TOP GUN timepiece adorned on the wrist of brand ambassador, Lewis Hamilton.

Unreleased, pictures surfaced of the horological knight rocking this beauty during the F1 Miami back in May 2023. The new timepiece was certainly an enigma to all budding timepiece fans who were drooling for a piece of the action on and off the track. 

Lewis Hamilton sporting the IWC “Lake Tahoe” - Source - PlanetF1

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Well, Timelords. The timepiece has been revealed and let’s just say, Chrono Hunter completely understands why Lewis Hamilton chose such a timepiece to wear! And yes we are a sucker for an onion ring crown.


Construction Of The IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Lake Tahoe


Measuring 46.5mm, chances are that the new IWC Big Pilot TOP GUN Lake Tahoe will look as chunky as a chocolate bar on your wrist. Nevertheless we still think it’s a delicious proposition. 

Lake Tahoe reference IW503008 - Source - IWC

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We must remember, Timelords. This is not a dress timepiece, even though it looks absolutely striking on the wrist! The case is crafted out of white ceramic which is an ode to the colouring of those watches back in the 1980s as they moved from black zirconium oxide ceramic to white. No need for yellow gold here!

The white ceramic material is crafted using zirconium oxide and other metallic oxides in order to produce an extremely high level of durability and finish. Did we mention that it's unbelievably light too? From tackling the school run to chowing down on some necessary spreadsheets, the timepiece is a strong everyday contender if we do say so. 

Now, why white ceramic? Well, the colour is named and influenced by “Lake Tahoe'' a name conjured up by the brand and Pantone which features wintry landscapes across its mountainous terrain between California and Nevada. 

As the location of the TOP GUN flight school, the colour also relates to the dress codes of the pilots who operate there. Now, you don’t have to dress like a pilot to wear this beauty. It could easily work with your evening wear.

Hang on a second…I thought we were still in summer? The white ceramic case is therefore exceptionally clean which is perfect for the pitch black dial face. The hour indices on the dial are coated with similarly white Super-Luminova, ensuring this new novelty glows a gentle blue hue in the darkest of conditions. Who needs salmon dials or blue dials to project the class and uber refinement of this terrific timepiece?

The dial face features a perpetual calendar with highly visible displays for the date, day, month and the year in an open four digit platform. The perpetual moon phase relates to the northern and the southern hemisphere which is pretty useful if you plan on circling the moon for a while.

Ah, where would we be without the trusty “Speedy.” Keep an eye out for the two planes on the dial, indicating the northern and southern hemispheres, emphasised by a small “N” and “S” at 11 and 1 respectively. 

The hour indices are Arabic Numerals which are exceptionally legible in comparison with baton indices. The dial may come across as busy as rush hour, but its sizable dial width and careful placement of each sub dial means you don’t need to circumvent the London Underground during the London Marathon.

The contrast of both white and black is positively severe, allowing for a direct view without any hindrance from ‘where does the dial actually start?’. By keeping the lettering of the sub dials, and the Arabic Numerals, this white ceramic wonder is seamless and strangely uniform.


Technical Features Of The IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Lake Tahoe


This new novelty is hotter than TOP GUN’s cinematic debut back in the 80s. However, us time peeps are fully aware that beauty (and style) lies within!

Lake Tahoe TOP GUN reference IW503008 - Source - IWC

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Exposed through the sapphire crystal caseback, the 52615 movement features the brand’s highly lauded Pellaton winding system and twin barrels. This ensures a whopping seven day power reserve meaning you can take this for a week long vacation or even an extended business trip. 

If you happened to be around in the 1980s when shellsuits and Spandex were de rigour, you may have come across a gentleman named Kurt Klaus. No, Santa. We’re already past Spring watches by now!

As the technical chief of the brand, his perpetual calendar module creation was utilised in this brand new timepiece. This allows the calendar to be set not only forwards but backwards as well. The moon phase complication is also a work of technical mastery. 

Via a reductive gear train, the double moon phase compilation is capable of lasting up to 577.5 years, with only one day variation. To put this into perspective, the current range for standard models is around 122.5 years! This may just be the unicorn timepiece of moon phase complications. 


How Much Does The IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Lake Tahoe Cost?


As of July 2023, you can buy an IWC Lake Tahoe timepiece at retail for £34,900.


Do IWC Watches Hold Their Value?


IWC watches are a top luxury brand and do hold their value, especially those that are rare or vintage. We can predict that for the rarer or vintage discontinued models, these are the pieces that have a higher chance of garnering a better value at resale. After all, everyone loves a hidden gem.

Siderale Scafusia - Source - IWC

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In addition, the highly reputed Siderale Scafusia represents the extremities of the brand's exclusiveness. It doesn’t need a Rolex nickname to get its resale value rocketing!

This piece features an astronomical display and a calendar which runs perpetual functions. Truly cosmic.  Featuring an ecliptic and celestial equator alongside a customised celestial chart, the brand has stated that they would be happy selling ten per year, showing how coveted the model is. That’s as unbelievable a statement as saying you can make a timepiece from coffee beans…Wait a minute.

Other timepieces like The Portugieser or Aquatimer which released the first model with a whopping 2000 metres of water resistance hold value well while the Da Vinci provides accuracy for an astonishing 500 years. These are just two prime examples of the level of craftsmanship that goes into each model and how valuable they are. Everyone loves special occasion watches and this may just be it!

Some watches have the magic combo of being rare and having pure celebrity appeal. For example, The Portuguese Tourbillon Squelette enjoys 76 jewels and is housed on the model showcasing an 18k gold buckle. No lab-grown diamonds here, just pure shine and natural sparkle.

With only 125 pieces made to celebrate the brand's 125th anniversary, celebrities like American Football star Tom Brady have managed to jump the gun and catch this stunner. This means that the model is famed by a cultural icon and is rare enough to exponentially increase in value over time. 

How about the new Big Pilot TOP GUN Lake Tahoe Edition? Thanks to the highly lauded ceramic material combined with the illustrious moon phase complication and heritage-led calendar with perpetual calendar functions, Chrono Hunter suggests this timepiece has the potential to be a good investment. 


What’s Our View of The IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Lake Tahoe?


Does this model press your horological buttons? It certainly gets us wound up!

Lake Tahoe TOP GUN White Ceramic reference IW503008 - Source - IWC

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Combining both the fairly new white ceramic together with the timeless circular dial face of the Big Pilot collection, it is lightweight and doesn’t hinder the user. This is in spite of its mahoosive timekeeping girth. This timepiece has its roots combined with a timelessness and forward thinking modernity ensuring its appeal among collectors and enthusiasts alike.

By making the model out of such a feather-like material, the size of the pilot’s watches is counteracted. It would certainly do the job for even your Dad next time Father's Day swings around.

From a technical perspective, the model represents the peak of horological complications. The moon phase function is exceptionally accurate and shows both the Northern and Southern hemisphere’s in a comprehensive style. All Chrono Hunter knows is that summer is here and it’s perfectly light for that roaring sun!

The black dial is sharp in contrast with the case, allowing for maximum legibility which is perfect for its intended purpose of being a pilot’s watch. Today’s modern consumer is as demanding as Mariah Carey’s rider requests, seeking smaller timepieces and more intriguing pilot’s watches. While it’s still not small at 45mm, it is significantly smaller than its previous 55mm case size. 

Look your best by pairing this with a crisp white shirt for the cohesive white coloured demure with the white ceramic case. If you want to take the formal edge off, pull this off with some casual denim and an oversized T-shirt for those warmer days. The future is bright, time peeps. 


Other Specs Of The IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar TOP GUN Lake Tahoe


Chrono Hunter knows you are very busy people, so here is a detailed breakdown of each of the Lake Tahoe pilot’s watches. 


Reference Numbers

Dial Colour





White Rubber strap

White Ceramic


52615 Movement


Power Reserve, small hacking seconds, perpetual calendar, date, day, month, year, perpetual moon phase

Case Back


Water Resistance

200 Feet

Case Thickness

46.5mm x 15.6mm


Sapphire Glass




IWC has yet again hit another home run with their new release. No sooner were they done with the Mark XX with white dial comes another triumph to rival TOP Gun’s Maverick and Goose.

The new timepiece builds upon its increasing competence showcasing white ceramic, following on from the previous editions of 2018. By incorporating a colour akin to Lake Tahoe, the model is cementing itself as a piece of cultural significance, especially since the lake has associations with the TOP GUN flying school. Feeling the need for speed already?

Fly high, sweet timepiece. Its dial is extremely legible and adds a dressy aesthetic with the date and moonphase complications. If these weren't added, the model would be an out and out pilot’s watch. While that wouldn’t be a problem, it allows added versatility that can be worn in a variety of situations such as after dinner cocktails, that important board meeting or your first interview.

The Big Pilot collection is steeped in history. For the brand to continue its pursuit of modernisation with the vintage circular dial face and Arabic Numeral dial style, the model is in good hands as a possible neo-vintage piece. Yes it may be as gigantic as the Eiffel Tower. But that doesn’t stop us from appreciating its mechanical excellence. 

Size does matter as they say.

Can't wait to buy an IWC Big Pilot Lake Tahoe? Want to be the most debonair guy in the skies? Get looking sharp and talk to Chrono Hunter here. With such a trusted network of established luxury retailers, benefit from top prices paid when you buy a watch or sell a watch. Whether purchase or sale, check out our outstanding Trustpilot reviews to see why we are your essential source. By utilising our dedicated app on all platforms, why not receive multiple offers in less than 24 hours and save money the smart way.


Further Reading: 

38 Majestic New Timepieces We Spotted From Watches And Wonders 2023

The Most Stylish GMT Watches For Men


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