For more than 80 years, IWC’s Aviator Watches have allowed their owners to touch the magic of flight with their fingertips. These prestigious instruments, which stand out for their design directly inspired by iconic navigation watches such as the Mark 11, will be on the forefront at IWC during the next Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie (SIHH). On the program, new items in bronze, world time, tourbillon or Ceratanium, but also a squadron of factory calibres, to meet all the styles and expectations of collectors of fine mechanics.
“We will be presenting a full fleet of Pilot’s Watch novelties that exemplify our engineering prowess and our material expertise. Our new Spitfire line is made using exclusively IWC-manufactured calibres. In the new TOP GUN line, we are using Ceratanium® for the first time in a Pilot’s Watch, giving rise to a completely jet black double chronograph. Last but not least, our special editions honouring the Antoine de Saint-Exupéry novella Le Petit Prince demonstrate our top-flight skills in the field of haute horlogerie.”
SPITFIRE LINE: 100% IWC-MANUFACTURED CALIBRE
The Spitfire, designed by Reginald J. Mitchell, is one of the most sophisticated developments in the history of aviation. The iconic shape of the legendary British fighter aircraft is the result of a perfectly functional design; its elliptical wings not only make the propeller plane extraordinarily agile and easy to manoeuvre, they also give it its unique silhouette. The characteristic instrument design of IWC’s Pilot’s Watches likewise was the result of engineering to the specific requirements of military aviation (please find more detailed information in separate article).
Just like the Spitfire, the IWC watch collection of the same name also perfectly combines form and function. The design is inspired by the iconic Mark 11 navigation watch. To celebrate the unique engineering expertise of the Spitfire designers, all watches are fitted with IWC-manufactured calibres.
A particular highlight of the collection is the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight” (ref. IW395501). For the first time ever at IWC, it combines the patented Timezoner mechanism with an entirely automatic IWC-manufactured movement and is limited to just 250 watches.
This special edition is dedicated to the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project. It has been specially developed for pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones to coincide with their flight around the world in a Spitfire. 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 watch can be set to a different time zone by means of a simple rotational movement of the bezel. The hour hand, the 24-hour display and the date rotate automatically at the same time. The 24-hour display has been designed as a rotating disc beneath the dial. This means that the dial moves closer to the front glass, making it easier to read. The newly developed 82760 IWC-manufactured calibre has a Pellaton winding with components made from wear-resistant ceramic and boasts a power reserve of 60 hours.
The backbone of the new Spitfire line is the Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire (ref. IW387902). IWC is presenting its first Pilot’s Chronograph with a movement from the 69000 calibre family and a reduced case diameter of just 41 millimetres.
The 69000 calibre family, first introduced in 2016, constitutes one of the most important developments in IWC-manufactured movements in IWC’s early history. Now, for the first time, IWC has incorporated a member of this calibre family into its Pilot’s Watches. The 69380 IWC-manufactured calibre is a robust, reliable and high-precision chronograph movement with a classic column wheel design. The stopped hours and minutes are displayed on the two subdials at “9 o’clock” and “12 o’clock”. It also features a date and day display. The pawl-winding system, which winds up on both sides, boasts a power reserve of 46 hours.
The bronze case, the olive green dial and the brown calf leather strap give this chronograph a unique character. Over time, the bronze develops a special patina, making each and every watch a unique piece.
LE PETIT PRINCE: MASTERPIECES OF HAUTE HORLOGERIE
Since 2005, IWC has been in collaboration with the family of French aviator and author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. This partnership has already seen a variety of special editions launched within the Pilot’s Watches collection. While some pay tribute to the life and accomplishments of the great humanist himself, others are dedicated to his most famous literary work “The Little Prince” (Le Petit Prince). These timepieces, characterised by their distinctive midnight blue dials, have been a highly regarded addition to the Pilot’s Watch collections since 2013. And at the upcoming SIHH, the manufacturer will now be adding some exclusive models to this line.
One such model is the Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince” (ref. IW590303). It is the first pilot’s watch from IWC to feature a constant- force tourbillon. It is available with a hard gold case and is limited to 10 watches.
This is the first time IWC has produced a watch with hard gold, a special new version of red gold. The microstructure of the alloy is modified in a sophisticated manufacturing process. Hard gold is therefore significantly harder and around 5 to 10 times more wear-resistant than conventional red gold. As a result, the material is perfectly suited to the large case and the crown of a Big Pilot’s Watch.
The patented constant-force tourbillon is the IWC engineers’ answer to a centuries-old challenge in the field of watchmaking: As the tension in the spring of a mechanical wristwatch slackens over time, less force is transferred to the escapement via the dial train, which in turn decreases the amplitude of the balance. This has a negative impact on the precision of the watch. The patented constant-force mechanism separates the escapement from the direct flow of force from the dial train and with every second re-tensions a balance spring, which serves as a temporary store of energy and transfers absolutely even force pulses to the escape wheel. Integrated into a tourbillon, which also eliminates the influence of gravity on the oscillating system, the result is extraordinary precision.
The IWC-manufactured calibre 94805 combines a constant-force tourbillon with a perpetual moon phase display, which takes 577.5 years to require adjustment by one day. The “Petit Prince” stands on the moon. Two barrels store enough power for 96 hours. A display notifies the wearer of the remaining power reserve.