IWC introduced at SIHH 2019 several pilot’s watches. One of the collections, the Spitfire, contains two interesting pieces in steel and bronze – the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire Ref. IW387901 and, respectively Ref. IW387902. The bronze version made the headlines a few days ago with a new campaign movie. The only differences between those two reference numbers being the case material and dial colour. Today, I will focus on the steel version. Enjoy!
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire
I got the chance to meet the reference IW387901 in person during the SIHH 2019 show. I have mentioned something in the third part of my SIHH 2019 report. The one with the Spitfire in the IWC’s booth…
My first impressions about this chrono were positive. I love the pilot’s watches and the chronographs and this mixture with vintage elements is a winning deal. The IW387901 is a balanced piece: good size, nice dial with some classical pilot’s watches elements and a manufacture calibre. But let’s go deeper after the wrist shot video.
The IWC started to produce its first pilot watches in the mid-1930s. The watches were destined for the civil aviation. The highlights included anti-magnetic properties, resistance to temperature’s fluctuations and robustness. The IWC Schaffhausen introduced the Spitfire Collection in 2003. The collection paid a tribute to the legendary Spitfire, the British Royal Air Force aeroplanes.
Perfect sized and sturdy
The reviewed piece comes is a nice 41 mm diameter steel case. For me, this size is perfect. Big enough to make the dial to look good, small enough to fit a relative smaller wrist size (as mine, where 41mm is a perfect size).
The case is relatively simple constructed: brushed surfaces, curved lugs and an interesting bezel. The lines are kept simple, probably to inspire the vintage feeling. A nice touch is given by the subtle polished chamfering of the lugs. The brushing is smooth and offers a solid protection against superficial scratches.
The Spitfire chronograph is built to inspire simplicity and robustness. The push-buttons have a cylindrical form and a mirror polish. The crown is decorated with the brand’s embossed logo. As mentioned in the previous articles, I take into account, on my watch preferences, also on the feel of the crown and pushers, not only on the appearance. The IWC in-house calibre offers a nice haptic feedback.
How to look good there, up in the air, down on the ground
The dial of the IWC Spitfire Ref. IW387901 is designed as a proper pilot’s instrument. Presented with a vintage aura, the watch has a series of elements that betrays the modern origin.
The time is displayed with the help of skeletonised rhodium-plated hands, filled with powerful luminescent. The low light capabilities are well exemplified in the video above. The Roman hour numerals are printed with white ink. 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock are enhanced with additional indexes, painted with an aged looking Superluminova. The called faux-patina. The black background offers a strong contrast.
The triangle with two dots is inspired by the cockpit instrumentation. This helps for rapid recognition of the position of the time instrument and its hands.
The subdials are recessed and decorated with a circular pattern. Unfortunately, the chronographic function suffers in low light from the lack of luminescent paint. The indexes and registers are, as the time display and chrono’s seconds’ register, in plain white.
On the right side of the dial are visible, under two apertures, the day and the date complications. The sunken window has a certain charm. Now, regarding the black on the white print of the day/date: I am a bit split in two. While a part of me wishes and says that a negative printing (white paint on a black background) will be more appropriate, the other part finds the dial better balanced on this way. Hard to decide… The design is pleasant enough not to impose a serious debate. Other than the one based on personal preferences.
Not Rolls Royce powered, but independent and refined
The Spitfire aeroplanes were powered by Rolls Royce engines. Not the case of our reviwed Spitfire. However, the watch is powered by another interesting engine – the Calibre IWC 69380.
The manufacture calibre is part of the 96000 family, introduced in 2016. The movement is used in the IWC Ingenieur and in the IWC Portugieser. The movement was designed and produced in-house with the help of Richemont’s Group sister company ValFleurier.
The calibre IWC 69380 is an automatic wound movement with a power reserve of 46hours. The balance wheel operates at the modern standard of 4Hz. An interesting feature is the soft-iron inner case, that protects the movement against the magnetic fields.
Considering the official picture with the Calibre 69000, the movement is nicely decorated. But the exact level of the finishes will remain known only to the watchmakers.
A nice touch is the sapphire crystal, arched edge and with anti-reflective coating on both sides, that is secured against displacement by drops in air pressure.
The green textile strap is doubled on the back with leather for increased comfort.
Now, I am in trouble…
I admit! I am in the search for a new pilot watch. And IWC made everything more complicated. The 2019’s collection is great. And the Chronograph Spitfire, Ref. IW387901 is a lovely piece. It gives me a relaxed impression of a watch that can take everything.
The watch looks good and feels good. The moderate size and the lovely combination of modern and vintage, make the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire, Ref. IW387901 a serious competitor. It is a great addition to any collection.
IWC offers the watch in a variation with a brown leather strap, the Ref. IW387903, plus the bronze version.
IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire, Ref. IW387901 Specifications and Price
- Mechanical movement
- Chronograph function for hours, minutes and seconds
- Date and day display
- Small hacking seconds
- Soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields
- Screw-in crown
- Glass secured against displacement by drops in air pressure
- Special back engraving
- IWC-manufactured calibre 69380
- Frequency 28,800 vph / 4 Hz
- 231 Components
- 33 Jewels
- Côtes de Genève, perlage
- Power reserve 46 h
- Winding Automatic
- Stainless steel case
- Diameter 41.0 mm
- Height 15.3 mm
- Screw in crown
- Water resistance 6 bar
- Crystal Sapphire, arched edge, anti-reflective coating on both sides
- Black dial with luminescence
- Rhodium-plated hands
- Green textile strap
- Strap width 20 mm
- 6,290 EUR / 5,190 GBP