The late Mr Tony Scott’s Top Gun gave our collective sartorial arsenal some serious style inspiration. From Mr Tom Cruise’s Ray-Ban aviators and A2 bomber jacket to Mr Anthony Edwards’ Bermuda shorts in the volleyball scene – not to mention the dog tags ricochetting off Mr Val Kilmer’s glistening chest in the aforementioned snippet… sorry, where were we? There is much in the way of style to take away from this mid-1980s masterpiece, but perhaps of more practical application is this elite team’s timepiece of choice.
IWC Schaffhausen has a long and storied lineage within the military wing of the aeronautical industry. Its association with the Royal Air Force began way back in the 1930s when the British government turned to the Swiss watchmaker for robust, anti-magnetic watches that could serve its pilots in the most trying of conditions. The brand has issued its iconic Pilot’s Watch since 1936, and it has always led the field – or air space – when it comes to aviation. But, since 2007, perhaps it is IWC’s collaboration with the US Navy’s Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor programme, more commonly known as Top Gun, that has taken the 150-year-old watchmaker barrelling to new heights.
The phrase “pushing the envelope” comes from this arena, of outmaneuvering even the limits themselves, and as such, standard-issue equipment needs to go beyond the most testing demands. In their daily duties, Top Gun pilots face extreme acceleration forces and dramatic shifts in air pressure, while the long-term reality is a life spent on aircraft carriers at sea for months on end. This takes a toll not just on the personnel, but also on the equipment they come to rely upon, equipment that, in the air, can mean the difference between life and death.