HANDOUT – The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire (Ref. IW377719) from IWC Schaffhausen features a case in stainless-steel, slate-coloured dial and stainless-steel bracelet with a fine-adjustment clasp. The watch now has a simple date display, which has replaced the altimeter-like vertical triple date display. (PHOTOPRESS/IWC)
The new Big Pilot’s Watch Spitfire in red gold is the highlight of the new Spitfire collection. With the Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire, unusual complications such as the large digital date and month displays remain in the Spitfire family for 2016. A sports watch for everyday use, the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire not only has a new date display; a day display is now also integrated into the dial.
The new Big Pilot’s Watch Spitfire (Ref. IW500917) now comes in 18-carat red gold. But the hands, characteristic cone-shaped crown and back of the watch are also made of this warm, glowing precious metal. It all makes this superb timepiece the ideal companion for any gala event, where it is predestined to attract admiring glances, and not just because of its 46mm case diameter. There is sufficient space on the slate-coloured dial for the sun- pattern finish to create the fascinating play of light that comes into its own when the watch is gently rotated. The reworking of the dial with the triangle below the chapter ring and the bolder numerals is clearly visible in this watch, too. The brown calfskin strap by Santoni with its orange lining goes perfectly with the watch.
Within no time at all, the spring-mounted rotor and Pellaton pawl-winding system of the IWC-manufactured 51111 calibre build up a power reserve of over 7 days, and the complicated gearing of the power reserve stops the move- ment mechanically after exactly 168 hours. Stopping the movement before the tension in the spring is exhausted eliminates the danger of diminishing torque in the main- spring, thus ensuring the same level of accuracy all the time the watch is running. The power reserve display at “3 o’clock” reliably informs the wearer of the time remaining until the movement comes to a stop. The Big Pilot’s Watch Spitfire has a date display at “6 o’clock” and a central seconds. The red gold case encloses a soft-iron inner cage that protects the movement against magnetic fields. Engraved in the back of the watch is the silhouette of a British fighter plane, the Spitfire, which has given its name to this Pilot’s Watch line.
EQUIPPED WITH AN ARRAY OF COMPLICATIONS
The Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date- Month Spitfire (Ref. IW379108) in stainless steel remains a mainstay of the Pilot’s Watch collection from IWC Schaff- hausen for 2016. The slate-coloured dial with its metallic shimmer and sun-pattern finish provides a striking contrast to the new brown calfskin strap by Santoni, which comes with the typical orange leather lining found on the inside of the wristband.
The large number of displays and complications under- scores the watch’s outstanding qualities; admittedly, they do not run to the 79 instruments found in the Spitfire’s cockpit, but the Pilot’s Watch is certainly not short of com- plications.
The first function worthy of note is the one that occurs in the watch’s name: the digital display of the date and month in extra-large numerals. Digital displays are a long-standing tradition at IWC, because the Schaffhausen-based manu- facturer integrated the Pallweber system into its first watches with digital hour and minute displays as early as 1885.
The Spitfire requires a complex mechanical powerhouse to move up to four digital display discs synchronously. It achieves this with a separate cache of energy known as the quick-action switch. Every night, when the date display moves forward, the sophisticated design taps off a little of the energy and stores it away. This extra power is then dis- charged at precisely the end of the month when the date and month discs advance, and at the end of the year when the leap year disc also needs to move on. Needless to say, the calendar’s sophisticated mechanism, programmed until 1 March 2100, even takes the leap day of 29 February every 4 years in its stride. The perpetual calendar can be set easily using the crown. It will not require intervention until 2100, a year that breaks with the conventional 4-year cycle and will not be a leap year.
One of IWC’s most outstanding innovations in the field of timekeeping is undoubtedly the analogue display of stopped times between 1 minute and 12 hours: they are shown together on a single subdial at “12 o’clock”, where they can be read off just like the normal time of day. Stopped times up to 60 seconds are shown, as usual, by the central chronograph hand. Thanks to the flyback function, the chronograph can be reset to zero without having to be stopped first. To turn this innovative watch-within-a-watch into reality, the designers integrated a double-pawl winding mechanism into the IWC-manufactured 89801 calibre. The movement consists of 474 components and builds up a power reserve of 68 hours.
The stainless-steel cases are machined meticulously by hand; the result is a vibrant interplay of shiny, silky matte and structured surfaces. The slate-coloured dial with its sun-pattern finish helps to give the watch its dynamic face. If the watch is tipped, thus changing the angle at which incident light strikes it, the light rays reflected by the pol- ished surface move in a circular direction. The rotor takes the form of an elegant Spitfire silhouette, which reveals all its beauty through the sapphire-glass back.
THE SPORTING SPITFIRE
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire (Ref. IW377719) was designed as a sports watch for everyday use. The bezel
of the stainless-steel case is polished to a mirror finish, as are two rows of links in the stainless-steel bracelet, all of which gives the watch an enhanced sense of luxury. The latter is underscored by the slate-coloured dial with its metallic shimmer and sun-pattern finish, which perfectly matches the grey fuselage of the eponymous Spitfire. A soft-iron inner case protects the precision movement against magnetic fields, while the glass is secured against drops in pressure. An engraving of a Spitfire can also be found on the stainless-steel case. The 79320 chronograph movement guarantees mechanical precision for stopped times and aggregate timing up to 12 hours.
The Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire now has a simple date display, which has replaced the altimeter-like vertical triple date display. The modification has created enough free space in which to integrate the new day display on the dial. In the subdial to the left, a red seconds hand serves as an indicator that the watch is running normally and, at the same time, provides a small, coloured highlight. It can be stopped whenever necessary for synchronization pur- poses. The stainless-steel case, which is water-resistant to 6 bar, has a diameter of 43 millimetres. Two-tone textile straps, inspired by the historic Nato straps, are now also additionally available for the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire.
THE SPITFIRE: A MASTERSTROKE OF AERODYNAMICS
On 5 March 1936, a prototype of the first Spitfire the brainchild of Reginald Joseph Mitchell took off on a test flight over southern England. After the test flight, the RAF pilots and the Air Ministry were unanimous in their opinion: this was the fighter aircraft of the future. They immediately put into place everything needed to go into mass produc- tion of the incredibly acrobatic machine, with its elliptically shaped wings and, initially, a 1,030 h.p. Rolls-Royce Merlin engine. Back then, the aircraft was a masterstroke of aero- dynamics and offered fabulous handling. During the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire went on to ensure its immortality as the most successful fighter aircraft in history.
Likewise in 1936, a group of design engineers and watch- makers in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, were working on the development of the Special Pilot’s Watch, which was un- veiled to the public later that same year. It established itself as the model for the subsequent Pilot’s Watches from IWC Schaffhausen, as well as for the Spitfire Pilot’s Watch line, which took off on its maiden flight in 2003 and has since surprised the watchmaking world with one new variant after another.
BIG PILOT’S WATCH SPITFIRE
IWC-manufactured caliber 51111 with 42 jewels, 21,600 vph and a power reserve of 7 days.
18kt red gold case (46mm x 16mm).
Brown calfskin strap by Santoni with 18kt red gold folding clasp.
PILOT’S WATCH PERPETUAL CALENDAR DIGITAL DATE-MONTH SPITFIRE
IWC-manufactured caliber 89801 with 51 jewels, 28,800 vph and a power reserve of 68 hours.
PILOT’S WATCH CHRONOGRAPH SPITFIRE
IWC caliber 79320 with 25 jewels, 28,800 vph and a power reserve of 44 hours.
Stainless-steel case (43mm x 15mm).
Stainless-steel bracelet with fine-adjustment clasp.