Bearing in mind IWC Schaffhausen’s focus on Pilot’s Watches in 2017, some eyebrows may be raised when the brand again turns to this collection at SIHH 2019. However, with the 80th anniversary of the start of the Second World War being remembered next year, plus IWC’s close affinity to aviation-themed timepieces, the choice to introduce a set of new watches that take inspiration from the iconic Spitfire – one of the greatest emblems of courage, fortitude and heroism during wartime – is less than surprising.

With more than eight decades’ experience in manufacturing pilot’s watches, already including some dedicated to the Spitfire, IWC’s links to aviation are unequivocal, with CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr saying: “The Spitfire symbolises man’s dream of flying. She is a masterpiece of engineering, who was born ahead of her time and who continues to dazzle with her iconic design. We were instantly captivated by the ambitious idea of flying this aircraft around the world and we are excited to be able to help this adventure along its way.”

The first quartet of watches were revealed at the Goodwood estate in the south of England – home to Goodwood Aviation, which, as well as an aerodrome, provides various aircraft maintenance services – on 5 December and give a delicious taste of things to come in 2019 with a contemporary twist being added to some of the brand’s most recognisable watches. A new dedicated Spitfire line – with all pieces powered by IWC manufacture movements – will be complemented by a fresh Top Gun line-up and special editions to the “Le Petit Prince” collection.

Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”

In the summer of 2019, a restored 1943 Spitfire with silver-chrome finish will leave London on a round-the-world flight covering 43,000km and 30 countries. The adventure was born from the imagination of Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones, founders of the Boultbee Flight Academy, the world’s first Spitfire training school, with which IWC has established a long-term partnership.

To commemorate its involvement with the Silver Spitfire project, IWC has created a Big Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”. Available in a limited edition of 250 pieces, the watch combines the patented IWC Timezoner mechanism with an IWC manufacture movement in the Calibre 82000 family for the first time. The new automatic Calibre 82760 features a Pellaton winding system with ceramic components and boasts a power reserve of 60 hours.

Simple and legible, the watch has a 46mm stainless steel case with soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetism and is water resistant to 60m. For ultimate legibility, the piece has a black dial with rhodium-plated hands, arced date aperture between 11 and 1 o’clock, central hacking seconds and a 24-hour display for the world timer function. By simply rotating the bezel, the hour hand, the 24-hour display and the date automatically change to the time zone of the selected city. The watch is presented on a green textile strap.

Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition "The Longest Flight"
Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition "The Longest Flight"

Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire

Today, the pilot’s chronograph is a mainstay of IWC’s collection and, for 2019, it will be introduced in a 41mm case containing a movement from the Calibre 69000 family – the first time it has been used in a pilot’s watch. The self-winding 69380 features a classic column wheel design and a 46-hour power reserve. The case is in bronze and the complementary khaki-green dial shows stopped hours and minutes

Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire
Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire

Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium

IWC’s Top Gun watches have, since 2007, taken their name and inspiration from the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor Program of the US Navy, and have always been among the most technical of the IWC aviation watches in terms of materials such as titanium and ceramic. For 2019 a brand-new material will be used by IWC: jet black Ceratanium. As light and robust as titanium and with the scratch resistance of ceramic, it is corrosion resistant and matte black in colour, allowing a completely black watch – including all watch components such as push-buttons and buckle ­– to be achieved without the need for a coating. The self-winding Calibre 79230 provides a double chronograph with an integrated split-seconds hand and has a power reserve of 44 hours. The watch comes on a rubber strap with textile inlay.

Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium
Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph Top Gun Ceratanium

Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition “Le Petit Prince”

IWC’s relationship with the family of French aviator and author of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, began in 2005 and has been the inspiration for several special edition Pilot’s Watches, all featuring a signature midnight blue dial. For 2019, some exclusive complications will be added to the Le Petit Prince range, including one model with a constant force tourbillon. Ten examples will be made with a hard gold case consisting of a special red gold alloy that is five to 10 times more resistant to wear-and-tear than normal red gold.

The IWC-manufactured Calibre 94895 within features twin barrels that provide an impressive 96 hours of power reserve (showcased on a dial-side indicator). The incorporated constant force tourbillon is the brand’s belt-and-braces solution to the age-old issue of maintaining timekeeping precision over long periods of time. The escapement is separated from the direct flow of force from the gear train and the balance spring is re-tensioned every second before releasing even pulses of energy to the escape wheel. Added to this, is the tourbillon, which reduces the negative effects of gravity on the balance spring, resulting in even higher precision.

Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince"
Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince"

And, with a touch of whimsy, a gorgeous moon phase display sits at 1 o’clock with none-other than the Little Prince himself standing proudly on the top of the moon.

Big Pilot’s Watch Constant-Force Tourbillon Edition "Le Petit Prince"