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Strap Guide: IWC Big Pilot 43

Strap Guide: IWC Big Pilot 43

Strap Guide written by @qtip.416Thank you Vince!


Watch collectors are an interesting group.  We can obsess over minute details of a watch such as a matching colour date wheel and the length of a syringe hand, but to a sane person these things don’t matter.  I am a professed watch nerd and over the years I’ve gravitated towards ‘tool’ watches.  Owning a tool watch may run contrary in an age where one considers them functional jewelry.  However, I appreciate tool watches because they are robust, purposefully built, and for the most part simple.  The less bling, the better. 

When IWC released the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 in 2021, I was instantly intrigued.  The Big Pilot 43 is now housed in a more wrist-friendly 43mm case (52mm lug to lug), as opposed to the original watch which is a behemoth 46mm (57mm lug to lug).  One can argue that the Big Pilot is IWC’s flagship piece and, as a bonus to me, is a perfect example of a tool watch.  This watch has a beautiful blue, symmetrical, sunburst dial. Historically, it was built in the 1940’s for pilots because it displays extremely large, legible, white Arabic numbers which make it easier to see in a cockpit. It is a time only watch and capped by an oversized onion crown allowing one to set the time easier while donning pilot gloves.  

The OEM rivet strap that came with the Big Pilot 43 just doesn’t do it for me.  Naturally, I ordered some Delugs straps to pair with my new watch.  The symmetrical, clean blue dial lends itself to being versatile with various strap combinations.

Olive Green Shell Cordovan Slim

Shell Cordovan is one of my favourite leathers for straps.  It is very strong, soft and durable.  This strap will patina nicely the more you wear it, and will last many years if taken care of.  Lately, I have been pairing green straps with blue dials and I think it looks fantastic.  This is probably my favourite combo as I think it would look great with jeans and a hoodie which is my normal attire.   

Grey Waxed Canvas Slim

I chose this strap because the textured waxed canvas ties in well with the tool watch look. The neutral grey colour of the strap allows the blue dial to shine.  This strap is well made, very soft, and has a water resistant rubber lining.  My hope is that the strap will age nicely as it gains scratches and nicks over the years and will also fade a bit as well.  If I ever get a chance to fly in a cockpit with a pilot, I will be sporting this combination.

Grigio Minerva Box Signature

This Grigio Minerva Box strap choice continues with my green / olive strap obsession. The muted earthy, olive drab colour looks amazing and the textured pebbled surface adds a little detail to the strap.   I like the matching stitch colour to the leather to keep the overall vibe of the strap muted.   The strap is supple and very comfortable on the wrist.

Dark Grey Ostrich Signature

With my next strap choice, I decided to stray away from my typical plain straps, which allowed the dial to be the main focal point on the wrist.  I wanted to add some texture and pattern to spice things up a bit so I went with a wonderful ostrich strap.  The ostrich pattern is very unique and looks different from the alligator straps that I have.  I am generally not a fan of loud and bright coloured straps, so I went with a tamed dark grey colour this time.

Millenium Two-Tone Blue Alligator Signature

For my last strap choice, I went with a unique two-tone blue alligator strap.  For the occasion where I need to dress up a bit and be fancy, this strap has me covered.   This shade of blue compliments the dial very well and adds a punch of colour to the watch.  I also chose alligator because I think Delugs offer the best value and quality for this type of strap in the industry at this price point.  They could charge more, but fortunately for us they do not.

Extra Information

  • Reference: IWC Big Pilot 43
  • Case Size: 43mm
  • Thickness: 13.6mm
  • Lug-to-Lug: 53mm
  • Lug Width: 21mm

If you enjoyed this Strap Guide, be sure to check out the rest of our Strap Guides for more inspirations!


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