After making aviation specific timepieces for over 80 years, it goes without saying that IWC and pilots watches have a relationship that approaches synonymity. IWC started to manufacture pilot’s watches for commercial pilots in 1936, and they began more serious production during the Second World War for both German and British air forces.
One of their most recognizable pilots watches is the Mark XI released in 1948. It was based on specifications from the British Ministry of Defense, and it directly inspires IWC’s latest collection of Spitfire pilots watches released at SIHH 2019. This latest collection features seven new references that span the breadth of simple three-handed timepieces to perpetual calendars, all now featuring IWC’s manufacture movements, a first for the brand.
Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire
The strongest link to the original Mark XI is the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire, featuring the all-new Caliber 32 movement with 72 hours of power reserve and a reduced 39mm diameter. It is available with either an olive green dial with sandblasted bronze case, or a black dial variant in steel. This is a significant offering for IWC’s entry-level pilots watch, with boosted power reserve and a case size that shows the brand’s sensitivity to shifting market tastes for smaller diameters.
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire
A classic that has not been ignored is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire, which is also available in the steel/black and bronze/olive green case and dial options. This new watch is powered by the IWC Caliber 69 chronograph movement, which has a power reserve of 46 hours. This too has been reduced in diameter to an almost universally wearable 41mm.
Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”
One of the more important pieces from the Spitfire collection is the IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”. Named after the IWC project to fly an original 1940’s Spitfire plane around the world in August 2019, it is available in steel with a black dial. This piece features the IWC’s patented Timezoner mechanism, which can be set to different time zones through the turning of the bezel, and functions in synchronization with the AM/PM indicator. The Timezoner will be worn by the pilots flying “The Longest Fight” Spitfire journey, and is limited to 250 pieces worldwide.
Pilot’s Watch UTC Spitfire Edition “MJ271”
Another watch for the frequent traveller is the Pilot’s Watch UTC Spitfire Edition “MJ271”, named so after the registration number of the “The Longest Fight” Spitfire aircraft. This piece offers a UTC (Universal Time Coordinated) function, which is an independent second time zone display, and is only available in the bronze and olive green variant. The “MJ271” is limited to 271 pieces.
Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire
The jewel in the crown of the latest IWC collection is the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire. With an olive green dial, it is cased in the same sandblasted bronze as other pieces in the collection. This perpetual calendar with double moon phase has a 7-day power reserve and takes 577.5 days to require an adjustment by one day.
IWC has combined a considered balance of heritage through design, and contemporary watchmaking through their new in-house movements, making a serious statement with their new Spitfire collection. With a collection of such enormous appeal, IWC clearly demonstrates their ability as watchmakers, and honor their rich tradition as pilot watch manufacturers.
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