The original TOPGUN graduate watch was first created by IWC in collaboration with the instructors at the Naval Air Station Leemore in California. The Swiss luxury fake IWC watch featured a black ceramic case, and the iconic TOPGUN patch on the dial, and available exclusively for the graduates of the Navy Fighter Weapons School.
While we did get to examine the TOPGUN only SFTI model, we were not allowed to take photographs.
This new release, shown here is the commercial release, and available as a limited edition of 1500 pieces, and takes its inspiration from the “Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor“ watch. And it built in the tradition of IWC TOP Gun watches – robust materials to withstand the high strain that pilots experience in the cockpit of the supersonic jets like the F/A-18 Super Hornet.
The case, dial and hands
The case of IWC Pilot’s IW389104 replica watch with black dial is in the classical IWC Flieger shape, measures 44mm in diameter and in black zirconium oxide ceramic. The material has a Vickers rating second only to that of diamond, and is extremely scratch resistant. The high-tech ceramic used in watch cases is characterized by extremely pure raw materials and sophisticated production processes. The source materials are polycrystalline powders, which are mixed with several auxiliary materials to a homogenous mass, shaped and finally sintered at high temperatures in an oven. Because of its lightness, hardness and scratch-resistance, the material is ideally suited for everyday use in the restricted space of a jet cockpit. The matte black color ensures that pilots are not distracted by the watch reflecting sunlight. Titanium and ceramic are also highly resistant to corrosion, making them ideal for long-lasting missions on an aircraft carrier in the humid, salty sea air.
The case back and chronograph are made of Ceratanium – a new material as light and durable as titanium but with the same scratch resistance as ceramic. The combination of ceramid and Ceratanium gives the watch a very stealthy and anti-reflective matte black finish. The case is rather thick, but the generous diameter makes it look very proportional, and the stepped bezel and sleek curves of the case extending to become the lugs make it a good looker.
The dial is typical of the IWC copy Fligerchronographs. Black and very instrument like in the look and feel. The markers are very arabic numerals with thick lines for minutes and a big triangle at 12 flanked by two dots. The hands are black, but infilled with a thick coating of luminescence, as are the hour and minute markers making the dial very clear and legible, even in the dark. A pre-requisite for the flight deck, especially when when operating under pressure in missions.
The Ceratanium case back covers the entire back, and is engraved with the standard IWC branding with additional TOP GUN markings. The numbered series is shown as an engraving as well.
The movement of IWC replica with black ceramic case is the IWC manufactured Caliber 69380. This movement is not new, and is already tried and tested in numerous IWC models from the Ingenieur Chronograph, the various Spitfire and TOP Gun Chronograph models. The chronograph is a classic column wheel design, and provides stopwatch measurement times of up to 12 hours. The movement provides a day and date function.
In operation, it is smooth and easy to activate, stop and reset, and in our limited testing operate perfectly. We did not have the opportunity to open the case to examine the movement, and thus unable to comment on the finishing. Though as we are relatively familiar with IWC movement finishing standards, will assume that this movement is finished adequately for the engineering functionality it needs and will not have embellishments for it to win any haute horlogerie beauty contests. But such decorations are not the purpose of the movement, but rather its missive is to provide reliable, and accurate timekeeping and stopwatch functionalities, and based on this design criteria, we think the Caliber 69380 is fit for purpose and does an admirable job.