Leading Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen will put one of its most popular limited edition watches, the Big Pilot’s Watch of 1940 under the virtual hammer, in an online auction between December 14 and 21. The money raised will be presented to the Laureus Foundation that is active worldwide in using sport as a means of helping disadvantaged children.
“The Big Pilot’s Watch produced in 1940 is a rarity as only 1,000 pieces of these exist in the world and are among the most sought-after vintage collector’s watches in the world,” said IWC Brand Manager, Gianfranco D’Attis.
He noted that this coveted collectors’ items from the House of IWC would be up for a pre-Christmas auction on the website of the Swiss watch manufacturer.
“This is the eighth consecutive time that we are conducting an online auction for a noble cause, which has now become a tradition with IWC and draws dozens of watch lovers and collectors to their computer screens every year,” Mr. D’Attis remarked.
IWC Pilot’s Watches and the history of aviation are inseparably intertwined. The company had started using its expertise to develop precision timepieces suitable for use in the cockpits of the world’s first aircraft as early as the 1930s. The accuracy of these watches had to be unaffected by vibrations, extreme fluctuations of temperature, excess pressure, varying light conditions and magnetic fields.
In 1940, IWC produced The Big Pilot’s Watch, a model whose dimensions have since remained unsurpassed. Weighing in at 183gms, with a case diameter of 55 mm, it is the largest wristwatch ever built by IWC and also one of the most accurate of its day.
In the course of time, this 65-year-old vintage timepiece has established itself as an extremely rare collector’s item and has continuously increased in value. As to be expected, the reserve price of 25,000 US dollars for this extraordinary Pilot’s Watch is unusually high.
It is powered by a 6-mm-thick, specially modified 52 T – 19’’’ Seconde au Centre pocket watch movement, numbered 1014091. The watch’s overall thickness of 17.5 mm leaves plenty of room for a mechanism packed with choice watch making features. A swan’s neck regulator for precision adjustment, club-tooth lever escapement, gold plated bridge, plate and movement ring, bimetallic balance with weights and adjustment screws, Breguet spring, 18,000 beats per hour and 16 jewels made of synthetic ruby as well as a stop spring.
The indices on the matt black dial are luminescent for maximum legibility. One of the watch’s most striking features is the large crown, which can be operated even by a gloved hand, and the extra-long leather strap, which permitted the watch to be worn over a flying suit.
The auction opens on IWC’s website on December 14, 2005 and bids may be made in increments of between 100 and 400 dollars. The hammer comes down finally on December 21 and the entire proceeds of the auction will be presented to the Laureus Foundation.
Laureus Foundation, set up in 1999 by Swiss luxury goods group Richemont International and Daimler Chrysler, has developed into an extremely multifaceted organization. Laureus combines sport and charity aid through three central pillars: the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation is at the heart of the organization’s humanitarian mission.
About 40 projects all over the world are working to provide disadvantaged children with social improvement, solidarity and improved prospects for the future through the strength of sport.
The Foundation’s second pillar is the Laureus World Sports Academy. This consists of 40 sporting legends, who act as ambassadors for the projects and, at the same time, function as the jury and prize-givers for the annual Laureus World Sports Awards.
“Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to unite people in a way little else does. Sport can create hope, where once there was only despair,” remarked Nelson Mandela at the Laureus World Sports Awards ceremony.
Prominent sports personalities who are ambassadors of Laureus Foundation include: Severiano Ballesteros, Franz Beckenbauer, Boris Becker, Ian Botham, Sergey Bubka, Bobby Charlton, Sebastian Coe, Nadia Comaneci, Kapil Dev, Michael Johnson, Michael Jordan, John McEnroe, Edwin Moses, Nawal El Moutawakel, Ilie Nastase, Martina Navratilova, Jack Nicklaus, Pelé, Vivian Richards, Daley Thompson and Yasuhiro Yamashita to name a few.
IWC has recently opened a new production facility in the Swiss town of Schaffhausen, adjacent to its existing headquarters near the river Rhine. The new building has been developed at a cost of AED 31 million (US$ 8.6 million) and will provide 3000M2 of additional space for IWC.
Leading impulses for the mechanical watch come from IWC. With its 390 employees, the company manufactures these sought-after pieces. Since the year 2000 IWC has belonged to the watch division of Richemont SA.