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A Tribute to the Legend and to Charity Under the hammer: The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Muhammad Ali

A unique timepiece from Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen went under the hammer last Saturday at Celebrity Fight Night. Having long been supported by The Greatest TM *, Muhammad Ali, the star-studded gala event was established to raise funds for the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center.

This was the 18th time that the former heavyweight champion had invited his friends from show business to come along and demonstrate their support for his charity. The live auction for IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Muhammad Ali in white gold attracted an impressive winning bid of USD 60,000.

“The man is an icon: simply one of the world’s greatest sporting personalities of our time,” said IWC CEO Georges Kern. “That was the reason we decided to mark Muhammad Ali’s 70th birth- day in January with a special watch in white gold in honor of the man who was once voted Sportsman of the Century.” As a fitting tribute to this exceptional sportsman, IWC Schaffhausen selected a legendary watch from its own illus- trious history: the Big Pilot’s Watch. IWC has been making professional Pilot’s Watches for more than 70 years, and one of the most successful models in their portfolio is the larger-than-life Pilot’s Watch, which has been boosting the adrenalin levels of watch lovers and aviation buffs since it was first unveiled in 1940. A unique version of this amazing timepiece in white gold was auctioned off at the annual Celebrity Fight.

Night in Phoenix, Arizona, with the proceeds going entirely to the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Kentucky. The Center’s mission is to preserve and communicate the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote respect, hope, and understanding, and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be. IWC donated this watch alongside another tribute in the form of a monumental tome: “GOAT – Greatest of All Time.” Weighing 75 pounds and measuring 20 to 20 inches, with over 3,000 illustrations by more than 150 photographers and artists, the book is a celebration of Ali’s life and a literary event in its own right. The auction package found its new owner for the enormous bid of USD 60,000. Lonnie Ali expressed her appreciation: “IWC created more than a beautiful watch – they honored my husband, his dedication to charity, and at the same time helped support the Muhammad Ali Center.”

Celebrity Fight Night Meets IWC’s Social Commitment

This was the 18th occasion on which the former heavyweight champion had invited guests to Celebrity Fight Night. Well-known faces like soul legend Lionel Richie, actor and comedian Billy Crystal, five-time heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield, and many other famous faces from the world of showbiz supported the gala. Many of them made a personal gesture of support for the good cause. Oscar winner and Hollywood actress Halle Berry, for instance, and tenor Andrea Bocelli offered a dinner in their company to the winning bidder. Over the years, the gala has been a resounding success, drumming up over USD 70,000,000 for good causes. Many charitable organizations have profited from the enormous generosity of its guests, and countless people’s lives have been changed for the better. For Swiss watch manufacturer IWC Schaffhausen, corporate social responsibility is a top priority, as is active commitment to climate protection and to the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation. The latter is globally active and uses sustainable sports projects to give disadvantaged children the prospects of a new and more independent life. “Muhammad Ali’s great- ness wasn’t restricted to his career as a boxer,” says Georges Kern. “He’s done an enormous amount outside the ring for his fellow men.”

A Tribute to the Legend

The Big Pilot’s Watch Edition Muhammad Ali is a fitting tribute to the great man’s achievements in sports and in society as a whole. The dial design of the Edition Muhammad Ali is modeled unmistakably on the historic Big Pilot’s Watch of 1940. The clearly organized matte-black dial, the arrowhead index at “12 o’clock”, and the bold, luminescent numerals and hands guarantee minute-perfect legibility of the time regardless of lighting conditions. It features an unusual combination of hands and appliqués, highlighted with signalred Super-LumiNova, which gives the watch a unique, sporty, and distinctly masculine look. The red is mirrored on the inside of the black alligator leather strap and its selection was no coincidence: in fact, it references the favorite color of Muhammad Ali, who often wore red boxing gloves for his fights. The case back shows the signature of the Sportsman of the Century and an inscription reading “Edition Muhammad Ali, ONE OUT OF ONE.”

Inner Values

As any watch lover will tell you, the beauty of an exclusive timepiece designed and produced in the manufacturer’s own workshops lies not only in its looks: ticking away inside the case is the highly sophisticated mechanism that makes the Big Pilot’s Watch a hero in its own right. Its 51111 caliber – the largest automatic movement ever manufactured by IWC – contains all the features that have proved their worth in the long history of IWC mechanical watches. Within no time at all, the spring-mounted rotor and Pellaton pawl-winding system build up a power reserve of over 7 days, before the movement is mechan- ically brought to a halt by a complex train in the power reserve after exactly 168 hours. Stopping the movement before the tension in the spring is exhausted eliminates the danger of dimin- ishing torque in the mainspring. This ensures the same level of accuracy the whole time the watch is running. The power reserve display at “3 o’clock” provides a reliable indication of the time remaining until the movement comes to a stop. The enormous crown is a memento of those pioneering days of aviation when pilots were exposed to the elements in unheated – or even open – cockpits. To combat this, they wore quilted flying suits and thick gloves, which made it difficult for them to wind and set their watches, hence the need for an unusually large, chunky crown.

IWC CEO Georges Kern is proud of the auction’s outstanding result: “We are absolutely delighted that this exclusive and unique time- piece has been able to make such a signifi- cant contribution to Muhammad Ali’s charitable causes.”