What if a watch brand offered an iconic watch design in three different sizes? And what if all of those sizes were well done and properly proportioned, and no odd artifacts or compromises were made during the resizing design process? If you follow my writing, you know that I feel this is quite rare. I usually find that there is a specific size at which a certain watch design clicks. Well, not with the perfect replica IWC Pilot’s Watches! I have three in front of me with six millimeters between them as I write this, and, boy, there is a lot to unpack! How do you choose the right one for you? Let’s find out!
I am limiting myself purely to the sizes and proportions and their ramifications for the wearing experience. If you are looking for the history of Flieger watches or a comparison of the different calibers inside, there are tons of articles and videos out there. This one is purely aimed at helping you pick the right one to ensure you will enjoy it for years. I am not even going into any specs other than the dimensions.
A word on watch sizes before we start
I have devoted quite a few words to best fake watches sizes recently. I wrote about how I shed my small-watch purism in favor of a more size-agnostic stance. We will also go deeper into the matter in the Fratello Talks podcast this coming Thursday.
Still, before I discuss these Swiss made IWC copy watches, I feel it is important to make a few points about size and dimensions. What is often underestimated is the power of both as tools in a watch designer’s toolbox. Size and proportions can be used to several ends. The most commonly mentioned one is legibility — “It should be big because you need great legibility when flying, diving, etc.” While legibility is a must, implying that it boils down to size is a gross oversimplification. Legibility can be accomplished in a myriad of ways, such as through contrast, color, negative space, minimalism, and so on. And size, in turn, can be used for many other goals than legibility.
IWC has succeeded in providing great legibility with all three size options. So while the 46mm Big Pilot may be closest to its forefathers’ dimensions, it isn’t functionally better as a modern pilot’s watch. Here, size has been used to a very different effect. It has dramatically altered the character of these three high quality replica watches. Interestingly, the overall design remains firmly upright in all three sizes. As mentioned in the intro, there aren’t any weird artifacts or messed-up proportions to be found here. This is something that I am eager to highlight as very few brands pull this off successfully. So, let’s see what sets these three apart.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX versus the full-size Big Pilot
Let’s kick things off with the two sizes that have been around the longest. First, we have the 40mm Mark XX ref. IW328202. If that is too big for you, still, there is always the Pilot’s Watch Automatic 36mm, but we don’t have that one here today. The other is the full-size 46mm 1:1 fake IWC Big Pilot’s Watches ref. IW501001. The Mark XX, to be complete, measures 40 × 49 × 10.8mm with a 20mm lug spacing. The Big Pilot comes in at 46 × 56 × 15.6mm with a 22mm lug spacing.
This really is comparing apples to oranges. the Big Pilot has always been a monster of a watch, even at the height of the big-watch craze. Comparing it to my 45mm Panerai Radiomir, it is significantly larger. This is primarily due to the wider dial and very long lugs. In comparison, the Mark XX looks like a small watch — something that, on its own, it decidedly isn’t.
The thing that strikes me most is that the Big Pilot is a very distinct statement watch. The Mark XX is much more of everyday replica watches wholesale. In this sense, they don’t feel like the same base watch at heart. I would label the Mark XX as a Flieger-themed GADA watch. The Big Pilot, on the other hand, is a big retro fashion statement. To me, wearing it feels a bit like cosplaying a biplane pilot, no disrespect intended. Honestly, I doubt people will ever choose between these two. They are just worlds apart.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 versus the full-size Big Pilot
Then comes the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 ref. IW329301. If you see the massive gap between the Mark XX and the 46mm Big Pilot, it makes sense that IWC tried to bridge it. That’s why, in 2021, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 was put slap-bang in the middle between its 40mm and 46mm brethren. I reckon that IWC now has a pretty comprehensive collection of Pilot’s Watch models for anyone lusting after the style.
And you know what? The 43mm version truly is the middle ground. It takes the historic vibe of the big one and takes it to a slightly more manageable size. The case measures 43 × 53 × 13.6mm with a 21mm strap width. Compared to the 46mm Big Pilot, it isn’t the diameter but the lug-to-lug and the thickness that make the biggest difference. On my 17cm wrist, I find the 46mm Big Pilot unwearable. This is a matter of taste, but it is just too thick and too long to look neat from any angle but straight on. The 43mm version still looks like very big super clone watches for sale, but it fits me comfortably.
We are entering the realm of opinions here. Our ever-nuanced Lex immediately exclaimed that only the 46mm Big Pilot was the real deal. The 43mm version, in his eyes, is watered down. If you want a Big Pilot, get the big luxury replica watches. I completely disagree with him here. Aesthetically, the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 doesn’t compromise in any way. I even prefer the cleaner time-only dial with all the hour markers lumed. In that sense, it is also more historically accurate. And it is still a big chunk of a watch by any measure. It is just a more ergonomic big watch.
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX versus the Big Pilot’s Watch 43
So what if the big one is a tad too much for you, and your choice is between the Mark XX and the 43? Well, there is still quite a lot to consider, even without taking the calibers into account. The thing that stands out most is that the Mark XX, again, feels like a modern, versatile do-it-all watch. The Big Pilot 43 has that heritage vibe. This is down to the no-date configuration and, crucially, the diamond-style crown.
Maybe this illustrates my point: the Big Pilot 43 could play a similar role in my collection as my Panerai Radiomir. It is more of a “gimmick” in that sense, which I don’t intend to be a derogatory term here. It just has a much more distinct — extreme, if you will — character. The Mark XX would be more of a Rolex Explorer alternative. It is more normal, even “boring” perhaps. This, again, isn’t intended negatively. I love boring watches. I find it fascinating how thematically different these top UK fake watches can be with all their shared DNA.
The Mark XX is a watch you can mindlessly throw on every single day. It will always look right and it will always be comfortable and capable. The Big Pilot 43 is a watch you strap on when the moment is right — when you are wearing the right kind of outfit for it or when you feel a little bold.
Which IWC (Big) Pilot’s Watch is for you?
So, let’s tackle the core question: how do you choose? My advice would be to start by considering whether you’re looking for a statement piece or an everyday watch. The two Big Pilots do make quite a statement, and I wouldn’t be eager to wear them formally. The Mark XX, on the other hand, just blends in while still exuding that vintage Flieger style.
The latter may be attractive to people who are looking for their first (or maybe even lone) great watch. If you already have a few Swiss movements replica watches, including daily drivers, the more outspoken Big Pilots may be better for you.
Between the Big Pilot models, I feel it comes down to fit. On my bigger-wristed colleagues, I prefer the original Big Pilot. However, for my 17cm wrist, the Big Pilot 43 is pushing it plenty. Then again, if you really want that oversized aesthetic, there is only one way to go, regardless of your wrist circumference.
So, which would I have?
Okay, this is a real question for me. I am not currently on the market, but 2024 fake IWC Pilot’s Watches is on my long-term wish list. I went into this article without prejudice, having only ever briefly worn a Mark XVIII before. My love affair with my Panerai had thoroughly opened my mind to the idea of any of these three sizes. I genuinely didn’t have a clue which I would prefer.
As you may have gathered, the 46mm Big Pilot is out for me. I have spent a lot of time pondering whether I would rather keep the Mark XX or the Big Pilot 43. It is an incredibly tough choice. The 43 would compete with my Radiomir for, primarily, occasional wintertime wearing. The Mark XX would take on my Explorer II in a battle for the majority of my wrist time. I just feel that I would wear it a lot more.
That said, the China online replica IWC Big Pilot’s Watches 43 moves me more. I love the diamond crown and the studded strap as well as the pretty display case back (although I had promised to leave that sort of stuff out of the equation here). It leans a little further into the Big Pilot theme, which I love. The price gap is substantial — €9,700 versus €5,750 for the Mark XX and €14,200 for the 46mm Big Pilot. But over the past few days, I have fallen for the 43. In fact, I have fallen for it so hard that I’ve put it right at the top of my wish list…