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IWC Pilot's Watch Spitfire
For most of its history, IWC's signature model has been a pilot's watch. This series began with the legendary Spezialuhr für Flieger (Mark IX) in 1936 and continues through many models today. The Spitfire name was introduced in 2001 on a limited-edition Mark XV and has blossomed into a full model line today.
Origin of Spitfire
In 1936, IWC developed a "Spezialuhr für Flieger" (Special Watch for Pilots), with a large 36 mm case, black dial with luminescent numerals, cathedral hands, and a rotating bezel. This watch was retroactively and unofficially named “Mark IX” to differentiate it from its successor, the famous Mark X created according to British Ministry of Defense specifications after World War II. IWC introduced a civilian version in 1993, the Mark XII, with similar styling but an automatic movement.
As the IWC Pilot's Watch range expanded, the company began producing special models. In 2001, a “Spitfire” version of the Mark XV was created as a limited edition for the British market. It resembled the original Mark IX with its cathedral hands and “railroad” chapter ring. Limited to just 1,000 examples, the Spitfire was such a success that an unlimited version with sword hands, a pie pan dial, and applied numerals was launched in 2003. A Spitfire version of the Pilot's Watch Doppelchronograph and the Pilot's Watch UTC were also produced starting in 2003.
When the Mark XVI was introduced in 2006, an unlimited Spitfire model was part of the lineup once again. Indeed, all models of the Mark XVI adopted the Spitfire sword hands, though only the silver-dial Spitfire included the pie pan look and applied numerals. A similar-looking Spitfire Midsize was also launched at that time, though this only lasted in production for a short time. The Doppelchronograph was retired, but a new Pilot's Watch Chronograph Spitfire was launched at this time. The Spitfire UTC stayed in production for four more years, now with the “home time” arc moved from the top to the bottom of the dial.
Spitfire as a Model Range
The Spitfire name was applied to a unique model in 2012 with the Pilot's Watch Spitfire Chronograph, Ref. 3878. This two-register chronograph would set the stage for the Spitfire model range to follow, with a deep and layered dial with applied numerals and chapter ring. The Spitfire Chronograph also used a new in-house movement, IWC's Cal. 89361. Like the contemporary Mark XVII, the Spitfire Chronograph also had the controversial “triple date” window at 3 00, though a special Chronograph Spitfire Collectors Forum CF3 in 2016 had a small date window. A more exotic model during this timeframe was the Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month.
Three Spitfire sub-models were introduced in 2016 The Big Pilot's Watch Spitfire, Ref. 5009, Pilot's Watch Chronograph Spitfire, Ref. 3777, and Big Pilot's Watch Annual Calendar Spitfire, Ref. 5027. All three remain in the IWC catalog as of 2019, even after the Spitfire model range was introduced.
No Spitfire version of the Mark XVII was produced, and it was left out of the Mark XVIII introduction as well. But all this changed at SIHH in 2019 when an entire Spitfire model range was launched. The line was previewed in late 2018 with the Timezoner Spitfire Edition "The Longest Flight", a dual timezone watch with a rotating bezel inscribed with the names of world cities.
These three new models featured in-house movements and differed substantially from other products. The most basic model is the 39 mm Pilot's Watch Automatic Spitfire, which uses the new IWC Cal. 32110. It is styled like classic Pilot's Watches but features signature sword hands. The next big model line is the new Pilot's Watch Chronograph Spitfire, with a 41.1 mm case and Cal. 69380 three-subdial chronograph movement.
Two limited-edition models were also introduced in 2019. The Pilot's Watch UTC Spitfire Edition "MJ271", with the UTC window again above the center of the dial, and Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire both have bronze titanium cases and green dials.
- Pilot's Watch Mark XV Spitfire Limited, Ref. IW3253-05 (2001-2003), limited to 1,000 pieces
- Pilot's Watch Mark XV Spitfire, Ref. IW3253-11 (2003-2005)
- Pilot's Watch Spitfire UTC, Ref. IW3271-06 (2003-2005)
- Pilot's Watch Spitfire UTC, Ref. IW3271-10/12 (2006-2010)
- Big Pilot Spitfire, Ref. IW5009-17 (2016-present)
- Big Pilot's Watch Annual Calendar Spitfire, Ref. IW5027-02 (2016-present)
- Pilot's Watch Chronograph Spitfire, Ref. IW3777-19 (2016-present)
Spitfire Model Range
- Pilot's Watch Timezoner Spitfire, Ref. IW3955-01 (2018), limited edition of 250 pieces
- Pilot's Watch Automatic Spitfire, Ref. IW3268-01/02/03 (2019-present)
- Pilot's Watch UTC Spitfire Edition "MJ271", Ref. IW3271-01 (2019), limited edition of 271 pieces
- Pilot's Watch Chronograph Spitfire, Ref. IW3879-01/02/03 (2019-present)
- Big Pilot's Watch Perpetual Calendar Spitfire, Ref. IW5036-01 (2019), limited edition of 250 pieces