“I feel the need, the need for speed”… That certainly sends a chill down my spine every time I hear it. Maverick, Moose, fighter jets, well those are the first few things that come to my mind when one mentions “Top Gun”. And although there seems to be no possible collaboration with the new TOP GUN Maverick 2021 movie quite as yet, IWC Schaffhausen recently introduced a new member to their TOP GUN aviation collection, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI”.
Needless to say, nowhere in the field of aviation are the requirements as rigorous as in Naval Aviation. Since almost 80 years now IWC Schaffhausen has accumulated extensive know-how in designing and engineering mission-critical instrument watches that are tailored to the needs of aviators.
As most of you are aware, IWC Schaffhausen’s TOP GUN Pilot’s Watches are dedicated to the legendary Navy Fighter Weapons School program, in which the US Navy trains the very best pilots in flying and tactical skills. Made of highly robust and hard-wearing materials, these precise aviation instruments are designed to withstand even the extreme G-forces a fighter jet pilot is subjected to in the cockpit.
The TOP GUN watches, which IWC has been making as an official licensee of the US Navy since 2007, take their name from the legendary Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). All the TOP GUN models are equipped with proven IWC technology for aviator watches. The movement is enclosed in an inner cage made of a highly conductive soft iron alloy. It consists of the bottom plate, the movement holder ring, and the dial. Similar to a Faraday cage, it conducts magnetism around the movement and ensures that it does not reach the components inside. IWC had developed this innovative feature back in 1948 for the Mark 11, a navigation watch commissioned by the British Royal Air Force. The soft iron inner cage effectively protects the movement from magnetic fields with a strength of up to 80,000 amperes per hour. Another feature is the specially secured front glass. It cannot detach from its place even if there is a sudden drop in cabin pressure in the cockpit.
In 2018, IWC manufactured a TOP GUN “SFTI” watch exclusively for the TOP GUN graduates in collaboration with the Naval Air Station Lemoore-based instructors. This year, the Swiss-manufacturer has introduced a similar aviation wrist machine for the “civilians”. The newest member of the TOP GUN family, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI”.
This robust Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” boasts of a 44mm large case made of black zirconium oxide ceramic which is extremely scratch-resistant. The case back and chronograph pushers however are made of *Ceratanium® which makes the watch as light and durable as titanium but at the same time as similarly hard and scratch-resistant as ceramic. The perfect balance so to say.
Underneath the scratch-resistant sapphire glass which is layered with anti-reflective coats on both sides is a matte black dial and black hands which are coated with luminescence. The Arabic numerals too have been treated with luminescence to ensure legibility during night flights or in low-light conditions. Just like the former TOP GUN watches, IWC has added a pop of red in the new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” too. There is of course the seconds hand, but what caught my attention is the tail of the chronograph second hand here that takes the form of jet. Subtle, yet quite a significant aesthetic addition…
Turn it around and the caseback features the famous Top Gun logo surrounded by text that reads “US Navy Fighter Weapons School.” Ticking away inside the sturdy case is the IWC- manufactured 69380 calibre. The robust chronograph movement in classic column-wheel design ensures precise timekeeping and the measurement of stopwatch times of up to 12 hours. Other functions include a date and weekday display. This new Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” timepiece is fitted with a green textile strap.
My thoughts? Well, I have always been an ardent fan of the TOP GUN watches, my personal favourite being the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert” edition. And although everything about this watch screams aviation, the little red additions and that olive green textile strap add quite a fun vibe to this watch. Another aspect worth mentioning here is the construction of the screw-down crown here that enables the watch to resist water damage upto 60 meters. Unlike its predecessor, this Pilot’s Watch Chronograph TOP GUN Edition “SFTI” in black ceramic and ceratanium is not limited to wrists of the graduates of the Navy Fighter Weapons School, it is however limited to 1,500 pieces.
*Ceratanium® : This ground-breaking new material is based on a special titanium alloy. After the components of the case are milled, turned and drilled, they are heated in an oven. During this furnace process, oxygen diffuses into the material, and a phase transition occurs, with the surface then assuming properties which are similar to those of ceramic. Ceratanium® is both light and robust like titanium and also hard and scratch-resistant like ceramic. Unlike more conventional coatings, the surface is inseparably bonded with the material and cannot flake off if the watch is knocked against another object. Thanks to this new material, all components of the watch case can be manufactured in a durable jet-black finish for the first time.
PILOT’S WATCH CHRONOGRAPH TOP GUN EDITION “SFTI”
Mechanical chronograph movement – Date and day display – Chronograph function for hours, minutes and seconds – Small hacking seconds – Soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields – Screw-in crown – Glass secured against displacement by drop in air pressure
IWC-manufactured calibre : 69380
Frequency: 28,800 vph / 4 Hz
Jewels : 33
Power reserve : 46 h
Winding : Automatic
Materials : Ceramic case, Ceratanium® case back, crown and pushers, black dial, black hands, green textile strap
Glass : Sapphire, convex, antireflective coating on both sides
Water-resistant : 6 bar
Diameter : 44 mm
Height : 15.7 mm