IWC’s new pilot’s watches include this Automatic, one of the purest pilot’s watches made by IWC in recent years. It is very close to the Mark 11 watches supplied to the RAF in the late 1940s. The major differences are the presence of a date window, different dial markings, and above all the introduction of an olive green colour.
The IWC stand at SIHH
At the IWC stand at SIHH, a Spitfire was at the centre of attention. This supremely graceful fighter plane, built in 1943 and lovingly restored, is a fine example of how a utilitarian machine can become an object of beauty. Its streamlined forms were drawn by designer Reginald Mitchell, working around the power of the 27-litre, 12-cylinder Rolls Royce Merlin engine, and he gave it slim, elliptical wings that provided optimal manoeuvrability and low drag. Pilots lucky enough to fly it spoke of the Spitfire using the language of love, its superb performance matched by its perfect looks.
An IWC pilot’s watch close to the 1950s original
IWC, a company that highlights just one of its family of watches every year, used the Spitfire as an analogy for the concepts underlying its new pilot’s watches. Christoph Grainger-Herr, the company’s CEO, explained, “Just like the Spitfire, our watch collection of the same name combines form and function. The design is inspired by the pure functionality of the iconic Mark 11 navigation watch.” IWC supplied the Royal Air Force with Mark 11 watches from 1948, and the new Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire is an interesting interpretation, combining all the advantages offered by the in-house calibre 32110 with design features based on the watch created 70 years ago. The new Automatic Spitfire has a soft-iron inner cage providing protection against magnetic fields, a solid caseback with an engraving of the legendary aircraft, and in one of the two versions, a bronze case framing an olive-green dial with sword-shaped hands and bold Arabic numerals. A titanium caseback prevents the bronze from staining the skin.
A new in-house movement
The 32110 calibre automatic movement provides a power reserve of 72 hours. It is based on the ETA 2892-A2, but it incorporates silicon technology used for the escape wheel and pallet lever, and a bi-directional pawl-winding system which winds the mainspring when the rotor is moving in both directions. Newly-developed lubricants have extended the expected life of components.
Two versions of the Spitfire pilot’s watch, bronze and steel
IWC have never made replicas of their 1940s pilot’s watches, there is always something different. The new Spitfire is 39 mm in diameter, slim at just over 10 mm thickness, with a water resistance of 6 bar, 60 metres. It is available in two versions, steel with black dial on a green textile strap (IW326801), and bronze with green dial (IW326802). “The colour scheme of the watch design, with its stainless steel case, its black dial and its green textile strap, is reminiscent of the cockpit of a Spitfire. The bronze case, olive green dials and brown calf leather straps give the other models a unique character. Over time, the bronze develops a special patina,” says Christian Knoop, Creative Director at IWC Schaffhausen.
The steel version costs about €4,900, the bronze version €5,500. Read more on the IWC website.