For years now, IWC Schaffhausen and the Swiss airline JU-AIR have cultivated a partnership based on a mutual admiration of the Junkers JU-52 aircraft. Of just eight airworthy vintage JU-52s worldwide, one has carried the IWC logo for two decades and, in the year 2000, started out on a circumnavigation of the globe to publicize a new IWC Pilot’s Watch. Time, then, to acknowledge JU-AIR’s outstanding work. In honour of the airline established to keep the vintage aircraft aloft, the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “JU-Air”, strictly limited to 500 watches, is ready to take off.
In the colours of the Silver Bird
The stainless-steel tribute to the JU-AIR has the cockpit instrument look of a classic Pilot’s Watch. The dial of the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “JU-Air” is rhodium-plated, with appliqués and both hands picked out in white luminescent material. The result is excellent legibility even under the most demanding conditions. The central chronograph hand shows recorded times in seconds, while the hand on the subdial at “12 o’clock” shows the number of elapsed minutes. The watch has a flyback function, so whenever the reset push-button is pushed, the stopwatch hand returns to zero and immediately starts another timing sequence. The small red seconds hand at “6 o’clock” indicates that the watch is running normally. It can be stopped as needed to synchronize the watch. The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Edition “JU-Air” is fitted with the IWC-manufactured 89365 calibre, which has a 68-hour power reserve and features a stopwatch to time minutes and seconds. IWC’s designers have modified the date window to make it look like a cockpit instrument: with its vertically arranged numerals, it now resembles an altimeter. A striking red triangle, by now a typical design feature of IWC’s Pilot’s Watches and inspired by the signal-red elements on an aircraft’s instrument panel, indicates the date. The case back features an engraving of a Junkers JU-52, while the inscription “One out of 500” refers to the limited edition.
The IWC-JU on its journey round the world
In the year 2000, a JU-AIR JU-52 took off in the name of IWC Schaffhausen to circle the globe and created a sensation. HB-HOS set out on its ambitious mission with an image of an oversized Pilot’s Watch decorating its wings. For IWC, it was a spectacular way of launching the new Pilot’s Watch Mark XV in Asian markets. Flying at 180 kilometres per hour, the JU-52 put in stopovers in Athens, Alexandria and Muscat on the way to Pakistan, and landed in Mumbai, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. After promotional events in Manila, Hong Kong and Taipei, it reached Sendai airport in Japan. The venture drew the attention of journalists, film crews, watch lovers and aircraft enthusiasts worldwide, and was a major TV event in Asia. It suffered a terminal setback, however, when the Russian authorities refused the aircraft permission to fly in the country’s airspace and forced it to turn round. Despite this, the sensation created in the East exceeded even the most optimistic predictions and turned the IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XV into status symbol.
JU-AIR secures the continued existence of the JU-52
Wherever the sonorous drone of the three large nine-cylinder radial engines announces the presence of a JU-52, people simply stand and stare. Unveiled in 1939 and now very rare, the silver-coloured aircraft had an enormous following by the time the Swiss Air Force purchased them for pilot training and for transporting passengers and relief supplies. When the veteran aircraft were retired in 1981, Swiss airline JU-AIR, which had been founded specifically for the purpose of saving the JU-52 with its characteristic corrugated steel fuselage, launched a nationwide fund-raising campaign. It generated an unbelievable wave of goodwill and, on a single day alone, raised over 600,000 Swiss francs. Today, just eight airworthy JU-52s remain. The largest fleet, comprising four machines, is maintained and flown by JU-AIR, based in Dübendorf near Zurich, Switzerland. To this day, the JU-52 has remained synonymous with reliability, safety and quality workmanship, leaving its mark on civil aviation like few other aircraft. Privately owned and assisted by a team of enthusiastic volunteers, the company ensures that the legendary aircraft remain in service, and offers sightseeing flights that help to keep the legend up in the skies.