Meet the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “SFTI”

Published 13 November 2020

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This could be complicated

In 2018 IWC launched a very special release – the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition ‘Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor’ (or SFTI).  Unlike the brand’s regular releases, the STFI was reserved exclusively for purchase by graduates of the United States Navy Fighter Weapons School – known otherwise as ‘TOPGUN’. Famously immortalised by the 1986 blockbuster with the same name (featuring a stellar performance by Tom Cruise) TOPGUN is where elite naval aviators and flight officers learn fighter and strike tactics, and techniques.


Hollywood action aside, the TOPGUN patch is one of the most prestigious achievements a Navy Pilot can hope for. According to US NAVY Captain and friend of IWC, Kim Dimatteo, successful completion of the three month course requires an incredible amount of work; “you literally eat, sleep, breathe, and dream TOPGUN.”

Responding to the popularity of the 2018 TOPGUN-only release, in 2020 IWC released a ‘civilian’ version of the SFTI, limited to 1,500 units. Made from one of the hardest materials available, the IWC SFTI comes in a tough black ceramic case. Robust yet lightweight, it measures in at 44mm in diameter and houses a manufacture movement, the calibre 69380. The chronograph function is good for up to twelve hours,  and controlled by two pushers on the right hand side of the case.

IWC have also integrated the use of Ceratanium into both the caseback and the chronograph pushers. Ceratanium is an exciting new alloy developed by IWC, which mixes the lightweight nature of titanium with the robustness of ceramic. To combat the magnetic fields caused by aircraft electricals often experienced in the cockpit, IWC have incorporated a soft-iron inner casing into the SFTI. Although built for soaring through the skies, this watch is water resistant to 60 meters.

In addition to the chronograph, the SFTI offers both day and date functionality neatly tucked at 3 o’clock, viewed through the sapphire crystal. Complimenting the black ceramic case, a matt black dial with bright white hour markers providing unmatched legibility. Breaking up the otherwise monochromatic look of the watch, are several impactful red touches, starting with a bright red small seconds hand at six o’clock. The Ceratanium pushers also enjoy a pop of colour with a matched red ring. A targeted TOPGUN touch is the tip of the chronograph seconds hand, featuring a vibrant red fighter jet motif, with lacquer finish. It’s a playful addition on an otherwise low key watch, and a treat to watch the jet cruise around the dial as the seconds sweep by. 

The STFI has been tactically paired with an olive green textile strap, hard-wearing, lightweight, and comfortable with a ceramic buckle to match the stealthy aesthetics. The Ceratanium caseback proudly features the USN Fighter Weapons School ‘TOPGUN’ insignia, as well as the individual edition number of the watch. This change in material provides a discrete switch in texture from the rest of the case, a reminder that this SFTI is a special watch.

If you’re a pilot or aviation enthusiast, looking to fly under the radar with a covert timepiece – then the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Top Gun Edition “SFTI” might just be for you. Click below to do your own reconnaissance on the exciting SFTI today.

To shop more from the IWC Top Gun range click here.

Article written by Andy Green and Felix Scholz



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