IWC Schaffhausen has launched the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire, inspired by the functional design of historic “mil-spec” watches. One model has a titanium case and a black dial; the other features a bronze case and a military green dial. Both have a titanium case back, engraved with the iconic Spitfire airplane, and a soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields.
Over the years, IWC Schaffhausen has manufactured numerous field watches for different branches of the British military. Arguably, the most famous one is the Mark 11, a navigation watch engineered in 1948 for the British Royal Air Force. However, IWC has also supplied watches to the British Army and deck watches to the Royal Navy. These mil-spec service watches were characterised by high-precision movements, extreme ruggedness, functional designs with easily legible dials, and purpose-built technical features such as soft-iron inner cases to provide protection against magnetic fields. The Spitfire Pilot’s Watches reflect this chapter in the brand’s history. Featuring a distinctive military design, they take their name from the iconic British aeroplane of the time, one of the most sophisticated developments in the history of aviation.
The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire (Ref. IW329701) features a case, case back and crown made from lightweight and robust grade 5 titanium. The dark grey matte colour results from an elaborate surface treatment in which the components are first polished and then sandblasted. The design of the black dial was inspired by historical observation watches. Only the minutes and seconds are printed in white on the outer ring, while the hours appear smaller and in a more discreet grey print on the inner ring. Traditionally, this layout made it easier for pilots and navigators to read the minutes and seconds at just a glance. They needed this information to perform tasks like celestial navigation during visual flights. The distinctive field watch design is complemented with a brown calfskin leather strap with contrast stitching.
“After introducing the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 in April, we are now adding two Spitfire models to the collection – one in a matte grey titanium case with a black dial, the second one in a warmer style in bronze with a military green dial. Both feature the distinctive Big Pilot’s design with the striking conical crown in an ergonomic 43-millimetre case. However, what sets these new Spitfire models apart is their military aesthetic with closed case backs, inspired by the rugged field watches from back when the iconic Spitfire graced the skies” – Christian Knoop, Creative Director of IWC Schaffhausen.
The Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire (Ref. IW329702) features a bronze case and crown as well as a titanium case back. Alongside copper, the bronze used by IWC also contains aluminium and iron. This specific composition makes the alloy around 50 per cent harder than standard bronze. Additional characteristics include the material’s exceptional biocompatibility and its ability to develop a unique patina over time, which will give each timepiece a distinct character and look of its own. The warm colour of the bronze harmonises with the military green dial and the gold-plated hands. Both the hands and hour markers have been coated with a luminescent material to facilitate readability at night. The timepiece is fitted with a green buffalo leather strap with a unique texture.
The two new Spitfire models feature IWC’s EasXCHANGE system which allows the wearer to quickly and easily change the strap at the touch of a button without any additional tools. Several alternative strap options made from calfskin and rubber are also available as accessories.
Precise and reliable 82100 In-house calibre
At work inside the case is the IWC-manufactured 82100 calibre movement. This high-end automatic movement has been engineered with a focus on maximum precision and reliability. It features the efficient winding system developed by IWC’s former technical director Albert Pellaton during the 1950s, which uses the slightest movements of the rotor in either direction to wind the mainspring. Other components, like the automatic wheel or the pawls, are made of virtually wear-free zirconium oxide ceramic. When fully wound, the mainspring holds a power reserve of 60 hours.
Both versions of the Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire are available through IWC boutiques, authorised retail partners or online at IWC.com. They are eligible for registration under the My IWC care program, benefiting from a 6-year extension to the standard 2-year International Limited Warranty.
IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire Technical Specifications
- Mechanical movement
- Pellaton automatic winding system
- Central hacking seconds
- Screw-in crown
- Soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields
- Glass secured against displacement caused by drops in air pressure
- IWC-manufactured calibre: 82100
- Frequency: 28,800 vph / 4 Hz
- Jewels: 22
- Power reserve: 60 h
- Winding: Automatic
- Ref. IW329701: Titanium case and crown, black dial, black hands, brown calfskin strap
- Ref. IW329702: Bronze case and crown, green dial, gold-plated hands, green buffalo leather strap
- Glass: Sapphire, convex, anti-reflective coating on both sides
- Water-resistant: 10 bar
- Diameter: 43 mm
- Height: 14.4 mm
In 1868, the American watchmaker and entrepreneur Florentine Ariosto Jones travelled from Boston to Switzerland and founded the ‘International Watch Company’ in Schaffhausen. His visionary dream was to combine advanced American manufacturing methods with the craftsmanship of Swiss watchmakers to make the best pocket watches of his time. In doing so, he not only laid the foundation for IWC’s unique engineering approach but also established the centralised production of mechanical watches in Switzerland.
Over its 150 year history, IWC Schaffhausen has developed a reputation for creating functional complications, especially chronographs and calendars, which are ingenious, robust, and easy for customers to use. A pioneer in the use of titanium and ceramics, IWC today specialises in highly engineered technical watch cases manufactured from advanced materials, such as titaniumaluminide and Ceratanium®. Preferring the principle of “form follows function” over decoration, the Swiss watch manufacturer’s timeless creations embody their owners’ dreams and ambitions as they journey through life.
IWC sources materials responsibly and takes action to minimise its impact on the environment, creating intrinsically sustainable timepieces that are built to last for generations. The company prides itself in training its own future watchmakers and engineers, as well as offering an excellent working environment for all employees. IWC also partners with organisations that work globally to support children and young people.