The legendary IWC Mark XI aviator's watch was a “cult watch”. Produced from 1948 until the early eighties, the Mark XI was never available to the public. Sensing an opportunity in the 1990s, IWC introduced a civilian version in 1993, the Mark XII. But this was not the first civilian “flieger” from IWC. In 1988 the company introduced the Pilot's Watch Chronograph Mechaquartz model, with a Doppelchronograph added in 1992. The Mechaquartz was replaced by the Pilot's Watch Chronograph, Ref. 3706 in 1994, then the Ref. 3717 in 2006.
The 2012 launch of the Pilot's Watch Mark XVII spurred the release of two new Chronograph models. The Ref. 3777 continued with the ETA-based Cal. 79320 while the "Spitfire" Ref. 3878 introduced a new in-house flyback movement, Cal. 89365. Although loved by fans, Ref. 3878 was priced much higher than the ETA 7750-based Ref. 3777 and failed to gain significant sales. It was cancelled in 2016 with no replacement.
In 2019, IWC introduced a family of Spitfire watches, including this new Ref. 3879 Chronograph Spitfire. Like the Ref. 3878, it uses an in-house movement. But the Cal. 69380 is a simpler design without the flyback feature on the Ref. 3878. In fact, it shares many components with the Cal. 79320 used in the basic Ref. 3777. One notable difference is the arrangement of the subdials The in-house movement places the running seconds at 6 00 instead of 9 00 like the Valjoux 7750-based alternative.