The untold story behind Lewis Hamilton’s one-of-one Black Lives Matter IWC Big Pilot The untold story behind Lewis Hamilton’s one-of-one Black Lives Matter IWC Big Pilot

The untold story behind Lewis Hamilton’s one-of-one Black Lives Matter IWC Big Pilot

Andrew McUtchen

It appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Just in time for Lewis Hamilton’s record-breaking race at the Austrian Grand Prix in 2020, the race that would install him at the top of the table for the most Grand Prix race wins of all time, which now sits at a staggering 98. The watch was an all black variant of the IWC Big Pilot Perpetual Calendar with a Ceratanium case and bracelet. The points it loses for legibility, the Black Lives Matter Big Pilot gains back in sheer bad-ass cool.

But bigger than the merits of the watch itself is that it appeared at the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement. At the time, we commented that the world was changing. Mercedes had changed their livery to support the movement and Hamilton’s racing suit received the blacked out treatment, too.

Black Lives Matter Big Pilot
Photograph: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

As a major sponsor of the team, the CEO of IWC Chris Grainger-Herr offered to create a timepiece that would fit the new aesthetic. He was quickly forced to deliver on his words, as the offer was accepted with this terrifying response: “Lewis said, fantastic, great, I love it, absolutely love to have something like that. Can you bring it to Austria on Tuesday?

“In typical IWC fashion, we were like: “Uh, OK. Obviously, in Formula 1 they’re used to things being built overnight. Watchmaking doesn’t quite work like that…”

IWC had less than a week to make the watch happen.  Watch the video to see how they managed to pull it off.