All You Need To Know About the Elegant IWC Spitfire Collection
Most of us would agree that IWC Schaffhausen has some of the best pilot watches in the market. Thanks to its heritage and close affinity with the aviation industry, IWC has established an extensive catalogue consisting of top-notch flight-inspired timepieces, which can be found under its Pilot’s Watches line.
Out of the many models in IWC’s Pilot Watches, there is a particular sub-collection known as the IWC Spitfire that stands out from the rest. It is the perfect combination of retro aesthetics and aviation-influenced elements, a truly remarkable pilot watch. With that, let us take a closer at the IWC Spitfire collection and everything it has to offer.
Brief History of the IWC Spitfire
Prior to officially becoming a sub-collection, the IWC Spitfire was originally released as a different version of older, established IWC models, starting with the 2001 IWC Spitfire Mark XV. In the years that followed, IWC continued to come out with more Spitfire versions of other watches.
It was not until 2012 that the IWC Spitfire was officially categorised as a unique sub-range of its own, starting with the Pilot’s Watch Spitfire Chronograph Ref 3878. Since then, there have been numerous models added to the IWC Spitfire line, with each piece boasting straightforward, instrument-like exteriors.
A Closer Look at IWC Spitfire
While there are currently 9 different models in the IWC Spitfire collection, they all carry the same essential design scheme. This entire sub-line takes inspiration from a British single-seat fighter aircraft known as the Supermarine Spitfire. This was a renowned aeroplane used by the Royal Air Force during the 2nd World War, and it eventually became the muse behind this selection of watches we are about to delve into.
Case and Caseback
When it comes to the case design, all the IWC Spitfire watches boast vintage-inspired aesthetics that stay true to their World War II heritage. These models typically come in either rustic bronze or stainless steel cases with sizes that range from 39mm to 43mm in diameter.
In addition, the standard analogue IWC Spitfire watches each come with one screw-in crown. Some of these crowns come in oversized diamond shapes, with large grooved tops that make it easy to grip and turn the crown. Others have more standard, cylindrical designs with grooved edges. Unlike the analogue pieces, IWC Spitfire chronographs come with a single crown and two extra pushers on each side.
Within the bronze and stainless steel exteriors, these IWC Spitfire watches have soft-iron inner cases. These protect the watch’s inner mechanisms from being affected or damaged by magnetic fields. Lastly, all Spitfire watches are equipped with anti-reflective sapphire glass to protect the dial from scratches and impacts.
On the underside of an IWC Spitfire piece, you can find a solid stainless steel caseback that is securely screwed in. The caseback bears a handsome engraving of the Supermarine Spitfire craft that inspired the IWC Spitfire collection. There is also a small aperture on the right side of the caseback, covered with sapphire glass, that allows wearers to admire the Spitfire’s movement.
Moving on to the watch face, most of the IWC Spitfire models follow similar layouts. They all draw inspiration from cockpit control displays, which they bring to life using large Arabic numerals in a neat typeface, luminous dauphine hands outlined in bronze, and the brand’s iconic triangle marker at 12 o’clock.
Some IWC Spitfire watches also come with additional complications such as a day-date window, a big date window, a small seconds counter, or a chronograph display. IWC Spitfire models also offer dials in either black or army green hues, which adds to the retro aesthetic of the whole collection.
When it comes to the bracelet, all of the models in the current IWC Spitfire series are paired with straps made of calfskin leather or textile. These bands come in either green or brown, to match the dial and complement its vintage style. The calfskin leather strap adds a more handsome, refined vibe to the watch, while the textile strap is sportier and exudes a more rugged feel.
Despite their vintage design, the IWC Spitfire watches actually boast impressive, modern mechanisms. The models currently available in the Spitfire collection are driven by four different movements. These include the 59235 hand-wound calibre which requires manual winding, the 32110 self-winding calibre, the 82100 automatic calibre, or the 69380 chronograph calibre. Each of the aforementioned movements is manufactured in-house by IWC, according to a strict code of standards that ensures top-notch precision and durability.
The current selection of IWC Spitfire watches has a price range of around $5,515 USD to $18,490 USD. It varies depending on the model you are looking at and the specifications it comes with. Because of this, IWC Spitfire chronographs are generally more costly than the straightforward analogue pieces. Currently, the most expensive watch in the Spitfire collection is the IWC Spitfire Ref. IW510506. This is a limited edition model, with only 500 units in existence.
Top 5 IWC Spitfire Watches
Now that we have a general view of what the IWC Spitfire watches look like, let us take a more in-depth look at some of the best pieces in this collection.
1. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire Ref. IW387901
First, we have the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire Ref. IW387901 with its classic, aviation-inspired design. It serves as a multi-functional option for those who want a classic yet casual timepiece.
This model features a 41mm stainless steel case along with a sporty green textile strap, a cylindrical screw-in crown, and two mono pushers. The busy black dial is decorated with luminous Losange hands, white Arabic numeral markers, legible day-date windows, and a chronograph layout with 3 sub-counters. It runs on an IWC-manufactured 69380 Calibre, which has 33 jewels and a 46-hour power reserve.
Priced at around $6,070 USD, this IWC Spitfire piece is the quintessential pilot’s watch for those who want something robust and functional.
2. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire Ref. IW329701
Next, we have the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire Ref. IW329701, which is a lovely model military-influenced pilot watch. Just like most models in the IWC Spitfire line, it makes for an excellent field watch for all your outdoor adventures.
This IWC watch comes in a 43mm lightweight titanium case paired with a handsome brown calfskin leather strap. It also has a slightly different dial layout compared to the Ref. IW387901. It takes the form of a sector dial, with a 60-minute track on the outer ring and a 12-hour track on the inner ring, along with large luminous hands that sweep across the dial in its entirety. Beneath this suave exterior is a self-winding 82100 Calibre, which was manufactured in-house and has an extended 60-hour power reserve.
If you are set on getting an IWC Spitfire watch, this piece will surely give you an elevated experience. It retails at approximately $10,270 USD.
3. IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire Ref. IW326802
The IWC Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire Ref. IW326802, on the other hand, is one of the more vintage-looking models in this range. It has a very straightforward design that perfectly combines retro elements with military and aviation influences. In fact, this is probably the safest IWC Spitfire watch to go for when you are just starting your personal collection.
This watch is presented in a 39mm rustic bronze case with a calfskin leather strap in brown. Aside from the traditional luminous hands and white Arabic numeral markers, the dial shows off a lovely green hue that perfectly complements the watch’s bronze exterior. You can also find a date aperture located at 3 o’clock, which is powered by a self-winding 32110 Calibre with a whopping 72-hour power supply.
If you are looking for a staple IWC Spitfire piece to act as a starter watch, you can get this for around $4,990 USD.
4. IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire Ref. IW510506
As mentioned earlier, the IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire Ref. IW510506 is a limited edition model with only 500 pieces in existence. It was made as a tribute to the Silver Spitfire, which was the aircraft Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones used to travel around the world for 4 months in 2019. This journey was dubbed the longest flight expedition ever, hence the creation of this very watch to celebrate this milestone.
The IWC Spitfire Ref. IW510506 is housed in an oversized 46mm bronze case, paired with a brown calfskin leather strap. The bronze exterior wonderfully highlights the dark green dial, which is adorned with large luminous Losange hands, white Arabic numerals, stick indices for the minute track, a big date window, and a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock. On the underside of the watch, you can find a semi-solid caseback with different engravings and a unique power reserve display. All of these functions run on a manual-winding 59235 Calibre, which has an impressive 192-hour power reserve.
If you want something truly distinctive from the Spitfire collection, you should definitely consider getting this $18,480 USD watch.
5. IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire Ref. IW377719
Last but not the least, we have the IWC Pilot’s Watch Chronograph Spitfire Ref. IW377719, which is probably the most different-looking Spitfire model in the collection. In terms of design, it definitely has a more modern, professional style that would not look out of place in an office.
This watch features an all-silver exterior, with a case and five-link bracelet both made of sturdy stainless steel. This is complemented by a grey dial, which is furnished with Arabic numerals, luminous Losange hands, day-date windows, and a chronograph layout with 3 sub-counters in darker grey shades. Inside this watch is a 79320 Calibre, which has a decent power supply of up to 44 hours.
Priced at $6,240 USD, this is a great option for those who want a more versatile aviation-inspired piece.
Alternatives to the IWC Spitfire
As great as the IWC Spitfire is, this collection may not be accessible to everyone, or it may be a bit beyond the budget of some. This is why we have curated a short list of timepieces that can make for good alternatives to the IWC Spitfire.
1. Hamilton Khaki Aviation Ref. H64615735
First, we have the Hamilton Khaki Aviation Ref. H64615735, another retro-inspired pilot’s watch just like the IWC Spitfire. However, this Hamilton Khaki Aviation timepiece has a more sleek and masculine vibe that adds a touch of modernity to the whole piece. It is encased in a 42mm stainless steel case and has a supple black leather strap. The dial showcases a matching black hue, with large luminous hands, double-digit Arabic numerals, a minute track, a 12-hour scale, an elongated day display, and a date window. Powering this Hamilton watch is an H-40 calibre with a power reserve of up to 80 hours.
This is a more contemporary option for those looking for an IWC Spitfire dupe, and it only costs around $720 USD.
2. Sinn Pilot Watch 856 Ref. 856.012-Solid-2LSS
The Sinn Pilot Watch 856 Ref. 856.012-Solid-2LSS serves as a sportier but still aviation-inspired alternative to the IWC Spitfire. It also has quite a versatile look that would pair well with any style or ensemble.
This Sinn watch features an exterior made fully of stainless steel, with a 40mm case and a two-link bracelet. The dial is extremely straightforward, with large luminous sword hands, bold Arabic numerals and rectangular minute markers for the minute scale on the rim, and numeral markers in a white font for the 12-hour track near the centre of the dial. At 4 o’clock, you can also find a compact date window. This watch is driven by an anti-magnetic DIN 8309 calibre with 25 jewels.
Priced at around $2,214 USD, this is a lovely pilot’s watch with a similar vibe to the IWC Spitfire.
3. Alpina Startimer Pilot Ref. AL-525GG4FBS6
Lastly, we have the Alpina Startimer Pilot Ref. AL-525GG4FBS6, which boasts the coolest exterior amongst the three alternative models. It has a monochromatic design that gives it a more contemporary, avant-garde vibe. This Alpina watch comes in a 44mm stainless steel case and a black leather strap with white stitching. The dark grey dial has a simple layout consisting of dark-toned Arabic numerals, luminous lance alpha hands, and a date window at 3 o’clock. Beneath the stylish exterior is an Alpina Calibre AL-525 with a 38-hour power reserve.
On top of that, this Alpina Startimer watch will only cost you around $690 USD.
On the whole, the IWC Spitfire collection comprises an excellent selection of timepieces inspired by the brand’s aviation heritage and its namesake plane. These models all boast a perfect balance between vintage influences and modern technical innovations, making them truly appealing to all patrons of pilot watches. While the IWC Spitfire is on the pricier side, every penny you spend will prove to be worth it, given its impeccable reputation and how well-crafted it is.
Photo Credits: The Watch Company & IWC Official Website
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