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. In 2007, IWC launched the blacked-out IWC Top Gun line with a version of the famous Double Chronograph in black ceramic.
The Top Gun Double Chronograph Ref. 3799 was replaced in 2012 by this new Ref. 3880. This coincided with the launch of a whole range of IWC Top Gun models that year, including the Big Pilot's Watch and Perpetual Calendar models. The Ref. 3880 boasted an in-house flyback movement, Cal. 89365, with two registers in the dial Running seconds at 6 00 and a 60 minute counter at 12 00. The date window was enlarged to resemble an aircraft altimeter, a controversial choice also found on other Pilot's Watch models that year.
The Pilot's Watch Top Gun Chronograph was available in two primary versions The regular “Top Gun” featured a black ceramic case and blacked-out dial, while the “Top Gun Miramar” had a grey ceramic case, grey dial, and green strap. A limited-edition boutique model of Ref. 3880 had the ceramic black case of the Top Gun but with dark blue markings on the black dial.
In 2015, IWC launched a range of models under the “Antoine De Saint Exupery Edition The Last Flight” banner. These had a brown dial with applied markings, no date window, and the initial “A” on the dial. All featured a bronze-colored ceramic case, with 17 pieces using platinum accents, 170 with rose gold, and 1,700 with stainless steel. Although based on the same model reference, none bore the Top Gun branding.