IWC’s Innovative Materials

Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Chronograph Woodland

IWC Schaffhausen has built a solid reputation for innovation and creativity. In the 1970s, IWC began to experiment with the use of hardened steel, ceramic, and titanium as alternatives to steel and precious metals – way before other watch companies used new materials in series production.

Not one to rest on its laurels, IWC continues to develop new materials that meet today’s functional and aesthetic demands. Check out the innovative materials used in IWC watch cases:


Big Pilot TOP GUN Black Ceramic IW502001 / Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Chronograph Mojave Desert IW389103


Big Pilot TOP GUN Black Ceramic IW502001 /
Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Chronograph Mojave Desert IW389103


Ceramic is a go-to for many watchmakers today. Loved for its hardness, scratch-resistance, and hypoallergenic properties, this material is mostly used for sports watches.

While watch companies like Rado and Omega began experimenting with scratch-proof materials like tungsten carbide in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1980s that IWC introduced the world’s first proper ceramic watch. Dressy yet highly practical, the IWC Da Vinci perpetual calendar (ref. 3755) was introduced in a mix of ceramic and yellow gold, and later on, made available in various finishes.

Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Ref. 3755


Da Vinci Perpetual Calendar Ref. 3755 (photo: Christies)

Today, IWC makes an excellent application of their expertise in ceramics, by incorporating it in their Pilot’s watch series. Considering the size of these watches (anywhere from 45 – 48mm), opting for a ceramic case sheds quite a bit of overall weight and makes them comfortable for all-day wear.

In 2019, IWC restored its position as a pioneer of colored ceramic watches with new colors for the Top Gun collection. The first in this series was the Big Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Edition “Mojave Desert”, in which the Swiss brand debuted the Big Pilot’s Watch in a sand-colored casing for the first time.


Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Chronograph Woodland IW389106


Pilot’s Watch TOP GUN Chronograph Woodland IW389106

The monochromatic look seen in the Mojave watch continues with the “Woodland” and the “Lake Tahoe” watches, both released in 2022. These pieces steal attention with their green and white ceramic construction and distinctive utilitarian style. IWC has worked with a leading authority on color, Pantone, to create these shades, along with three other original hues for IWC’s titanium and Ceratanium watches.




IWC has been pioneering in its work with ceramic and titanium since the 1970s, in search of ways to increase the scratch resistance and reduce the weight of their timepieces, without sacrificing robustness and hardness.


Pilots Timezoner Top Gun Ceratanium IW395505


Pilots Timezoner Top Gun Ceratanium IW395505 (photo: IWC)

In 2017, after five years of development, IWC debuted Ceratanium, a proprietary titanium alloy that takes on the properties of ceramic when kiln-fired at high temperatures. The Swiss brand uses this material to produce blacked-out watches without the need for a coating process such as physical vapor deposition (PVD), which is more prone to chipping after an impact.

The main attraction of Ceratanium is its color, which IWC and Pantone call “IWC Ceratanium”. This dark and slightly metallic stone-like shade delivers a brooding look like no other.



Armor Gold

The latest in IWC’s growing list of exclusive materials is the 18K Armor Gold, created by the brand to be harder and more wear-resistant than the industry standard 5N red gold. With this material, the high-end pieces from IWC can now be displayed more frequently without having to be concerned about fragility or natural wear and tear.


Big Pilot's Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince" IW590303


Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince” IW590303 (photo: IWC)

Armor Gold consists of 75% pure gold equivalent to 18 carats. The remaining 25% is made of an alloy that has been combined with other components to obtain the desired red gold hue. Timeless and elegant, it is produced using an exquisite process that allows the microstructure of the alloy to be significantly harder than conventional 5N red gold.

IWC debuted this modern material for the first time in 2019 on their Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition Le Petit Prince, which comes with an open-worked skeleton sub-dial.




Even with classics like bronze, IWC finds ways to innovate. For its watch cases, the Swiss brand also uses aluminum bronze, which along with copper, also contains aluminum and iron. This combination makes the alloy 50% harder than traditional bronze and tough as stainless steel.


Big Pilot Bronze Titanium Black Dial IW501005


Big Pilot Bronze Titanium Black Dial IW501005

An additional feature of bronze is its high biocompatibility, which makes it suitable for use in the food industry. This material also develops a beautiful patina over time, giving each timepiece a rugged look. Combined with the retro appeal of IWC Pilot’s watches, it makes for an excellent “stealth wealth” piece.



Each of these metals is being used by IWC in their watches to achieve top-notch quality and aesthetics. They continue to solidify the brand’s status as one of the most inventive watchmakers today. Explore our collection of IWC watches at


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