Lefties don’t get the fairest go from a society increasingly concerned with social justice and stamping out inequality. Despite many of the world’s most famous identities and thinkers being left-handed (from Barack Obama to Napoleon Bonaparte; Jimi Hendrix to Leonardo Da Vinci, and many more), the majority rolls with consensus and the consensus is that 90 per cent of folks are right-handed.
The subject has even spurned a film starring an absurdly buff Jake Gyllenhaal, as well as that most-coveted of all pop-culture references, an episode of The Simpsons.
Curiously, however, while southpaws comprise only a small fraction of the global population, there’s one profession where they are disproportionately overrepresented: aviation. IWC, in fact, claims that up to 40 per cent of pilots are left-handed, which raises an even bigger curiosity: why aren’t more pilots’ watches made to be worn on the right hand?
Known for making some of the most exquisite pilots’ watches in the world, IWC sought to amend this anomaly, and the result is the (very practically named) Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Right-Hander”. Drawing inspiration from IWC’s classic, perhaps most famous, “Big Pilot” silhouette, it’s a stunning timepiece whichever hand you use to write.
Based on the Big Pilot’s Watch Calibre 52 TSC from the 1940s, the right-hander has a decent sized case–46.2 millimetres to be precise–which will come as good news to any fans of the model known distinctly for its heft and legibility. It also boasts the same design seen throughout the Big Pilot’s Watch family, imitating the classing stylings of cockpit instruments which are designed to be very easy to read whilst up in the air.
What differs is the positioning of the distinctive conical crown, which has been moved from the “3 o’clock” position to “9 o’clock”. The crown, which was originally designed for ease of use when wearing thick aviator’s gloves, is usually placed on the right-hand side of most watch cases so that the user can easily adjust the time without having to remove the timepiece from their wrist. For the estimated ten per cent of people who are left-handed, this has probably been a mild inconvenience, historically, but with such a vast number of pilots who are lefties, it’s almost surprising it’s taken this long to create such a simple solution.
Designed by the team at IWC’s Schaffhausen facility (although we also suspect some involvement of Sydney-based IWC brand director Florian Gutsmiedl and the local Australian team, given the curious exclusivity period down under, as well as the very obvious “Koala face” dial), the watch itself is classic, aesthetically, with a beautiful slate dial inside a stainless steel case, which sports a second-hand at 3 o’clock and a power reserve subdial at 9 o’clock.
And that power reserve is mighty impressive, with up to seven days’ worth from the automatic calibre 52010 movement housed within.
What others (and us) have called a “Koala” dial riffs on the classic “panda” dial, with two black subdials set inside the main display, although the “Koala” moniker seems more fitting than the traditional mammalian reference given the grey tones of the slate face.
Sometimes, obvious questions have obvious answers, and IWC’s latest special edition is no exception. What is markedly impressive, however, is just how stunning this watch is, whichever wrist you wear it on. Despite its obvious appeal to left-handers who, to-date, would have to compromise either practicality or comfort if they wanted to sport an IWC Big Pilot’s Watch, this edition of the iconic classic looks great on either wrist and given its rarity, would also make a fantastic addition to any serious collection.
“I’m delighted that we’ve revisited one of the most recognisable icons in the IWC portfolio for this special edition,” said IWC CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr, of the Big Pilot’s Watch Edition “Right Hander”’s release.
“We are always striving to push the boundaries of engineering and design, and this new watch really exemplifies this drive. It has all the signature elements you’d expect, but with a crucial difference.”