IWC Top Gun: The secret star of IWC’s fleet1:39 pm
Are dogfights or air combat maneuvering in general, mission impossible? Well not exactly, but they aren’t really child’s play either. One wrong move can send even the most seasoned pilots into a flat spin from which they may not recover, quickly becoming “an example of what not to do” during aerial combat. It was in fact the shortcomings of the U.S. air-to-air missiles over North Vietnam that eventually led then Chief of Naval Operations – Admiral Thomas Hinman Moorer, to order a research led by Captain Frank Ault, into the failings. Operation Rolling Thunder came into play and lasted a good three and a half years (2 March 1965 to 1 November 1968).
The Navy and Air Force of course, drew almost diametrically opposite conclusions. But it was the “Ault Report”, published by the Navy, that deducted the problem to be a more grass-roots level one – the air-crew were not being sufficiently and effectively trained in air combat maneuvering. The report recommended that an “Advanced Fighter Weapons School” be set up in order to give out community fighter expertise to the Naval Aviators and the Naval Flight Officers who would return to their respective units as Surrogate instructors.
March 3, 1969 – TOPGUN is founded
The United States Navy Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor program (SFTI program), or TOPGUN was thus founded. Pilots who sport the Top Gun badge on their overalls are without a doubt the best of the best, the secret stars of their fleets. It is a natural deduction then, that the watches these pilots sport must also deliver the same level of performance and precision. And matching right up to the requirements, is the Top Gun line from IWC.
When the first Top Gun watch was added to the IWC Pilot’s Watch squad in 2007, it was pretty evident that the watch was here to stay. And sure enough, 2012 saw the Top Gun collection become an independent series in the Pilot’s family. Bearing the black-and-white instrument look of the classic Pilot’s Watches, yet retaining its own sporty character, the Top Gun Chronograph is the perfect ally to the elite and highly skilled rung of Naval Aviators and Officers.
Engaging in air combat tactics at supersonic speeds, takes a serious toll on the machines and the men navigating them. Given the high pressure, uncontrolled conditions, the watch a Top Gun pilot wears needs to be as controlled and precise as the very laws of aerodynamics. A solid instrument, the IWC Top Gun Chronograph is equipped with the in-house 89365 calibre, has a staggering 68 hour power reserve and a soft-iron inner case that protects the mechanism against magnetic fields.
A look at the dial and one is immediately reminded of a fighter jet’s cockpit. Even the date window of the Top Gun Chronograph resembles an altimeter. The dial also features luminescent white hands and indices that ensure perfect legibility even in the most hostile circumstances where readability is concerned. The central chronograph hand, which again, has a luminescent white marker, features a distinct red counterpoise shaped like a jet (symbolizing the essence of the series). It shows recorded times in seconds. The subdial at “12 o’clock” reflects the number of elapsed minutes, while the one at 6 o’clock indicates the hacking seconds.
The ceramic case of the Top Gun is extremely light and water resistant to 6 bar. The push buttons and crown are crafted in titanium. The convex sapphire glass protecting the watch is exceptionally scratch-resistant and aptly secured to withstand sudden drops in cockpit pressure. The chronograph conforms every bit to the typical requirements of a combat instrument.
By Neha Chadha
Contributing Editor, The Watch Guide
With a keen interest in the art and science behind Haute Horology, Neha oversees the creative and content for Ethoswatches.com.