The Mercedes-Benz G-Class, (better known as the G-Wagen, or Geländewagen if you want to be extra nerdy about it) started life in the 1970s as a military off-road vehicle. After its discovery by rappers, oligarchs and other high net-worth types who appreciate its boxy military-inspired looks, it has become one of the most popular vehicles in the Mercedes-Benz stable, with a host of high tech features and refined handling.
The IWC Big Pilot, by contrast, was developed for military navigators in the 1940s, and 80-some years later it’s now one of the most popular watches in the IWC lineup. The Big Pilot may no longer be the essential cockpit instrument it once was, but it has taken on a vibrant second life as a luxury accessory, with dozens of unique versions and several high-profile collabs. The latest of these, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63, celebrates the shared military roots, XXL proportions, luxurious materials, and luxurious underpinnings of these two 20th-century icons in a style befitting both of them.
The Pilot’s Watch AMG G 63 comes in two versions that draw on IWC’s knack skill with unconventional materials while paying homage to the G-Class’s distinctive design. Both new editions feature a 3 o’clock power reserve indicator and a small seconds counter at 9 o’clock that, on closer inspection, reveal a subtle homage to the burly SUV. These subdials’ external white rings imitate G-Class headlights, while the main dial is embossed with a technical structure inspired by the air intakes of Mercedes-AMG performance cars. Unlike the classic Big Pilot’s Watch, which features printed numerals and indices, the ones in this special edition feature PVD-coated appliqués filled with luminous material for added depth.
In keeping with the Big Pilot’s reputation as a watch designed to stand up to g-forces, shocks, and major changes in temperature and air pressure, the two new versions are equipped with cases made of exceptionally durable materials. One features a case and crown made from 18-carat Armor Gold, and the second is IWC’s first timepiece to utilize a ceramic matrix composite (CMC) case. Armor Gold is a new material in the IWC toolbox that, thanks to an improved microstructure, is significantly harder and more wear-resistant than conventional 5N gold — a useful attribute whether or not you’re flying a fighter jet.
The ceramic matrix composite (CMC) used for the other version uses fibres that are embedded in a matrix of ceramic rather than the conventional polymer, and crafting it takes several days, explains Lorenz Brunner, Department Manager Research and Innovation at IWC Schaffhausen. “The manufacturing process for this lightweight and strong material is extremely complex. To achieve perfect quality, we had to overcome countless challenges from selecting the right raw materials for the fibres and the matrix to defining the exact parameters for the different steps of the process.” This results in not just an exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, but also a matte black colour and a complex visual structure that makes each piece look unique.
Like every other Big Pilot watch from IWC, both versions are equipped with an in-house movement, in this case, the IWC-52010 calibre, which is both highly robust and precise thanks to components made from zirconium oxide ceramic. The movements are visible through a tinted sapphire case back and are decorated with a Mercedes-Benz star reminiscent of the one affixed to the G-Wagen’s spare wheel cover. It’s a creative finishing touch that G-Wagen fans will surely appreciate, and a reminder that (like the G-Class itself) the Big Pilot is the ultimate military tool-turned luxury accessory.