IWC Schaffhausen manufactured its first IWC Pilot’s Watch more than 80 years ago. Since then, Swiss watchmaking specialist has accumulated extensive know-how in designing and engineering mission-critical instrument watches that are tailored to the needs of aviators. 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). They represent the tactical and performance side of IWC’s Pilot’s Watches, while at the same time underscoring the company’s role as a pioneer and innovator in the area of advanced case materials.
Nowhere in the field of aviation are the requirements as rigorous as in Naval Aviation. Spot landings at night on an aircraft carrier are among the most challenging maneuvers of all. During dogfights, tight turns or in vertical maneuvers with supersonic jets like an F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, maximum acceleration forces are exerted on the pilots and their aircraft. The constant day and night operations on an aircraft carrier likewise take a toll on man and material. This is why TOP GUN watches are engineered from highly robust and resilient materials such as titanium and ceramics to withstand the extreme strain fighter jet pilots can experience in the cockpit.
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.
With a Vickers rating second only to that of diamonds, ceramic ranks among the hardest substances on earth. 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.
CERATANIUM COMBINES THE ADVANTAGES OF TITANIUM AND CERAMIC
The most recent innovation from Schaffhausen is 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.