The Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital DateMonth Spitfire (Ref. IW379108) in stainless steel remains a mainstay of the Pilot’s Watch collection from IWC Schaffhausen for 2016. The slate-coloured dial with its metallic shimmer and sun-pattern finish provides a striking contrast to the new brown calfskin strap by Santoni, which comes with the typical orange leather lining found on the inside of the wristband.
The large number of displays and complications underscores the watch’s outstanding qualities; admittedly, they do not run to the 79 instruments found in the Spitfire’s cockpit, but the Pilot’s Watch is certainly not short of complications. The first function worthy of note is the one that occurs in the watch’s name: the digital display of the date and month in extra-large numerals. Digital displays are a long-standing tradition at IWC, because the Schaffhausen-based manufacturer integrated the Pallweber system into its first watches with digital hour and minute displays as early as 1885.
The Spitfire requires a complex mechanical powerhouse to move up to four digital display discs synchronously. It achieves this with a separate cache of energy known as the quick-action switch. Every night, when the date display moves forward, the sophisticated design taps off a little of the energy and stores it away. This extra power is then discharged at precisely the end of the month when the date and month discs advance, and at the end of the year when the leap year disc also needs to move on. Needless to say, the calendar’s sophisticated mechanism, programmed until1 March 2100, even takes the leap day of 29 February every 4 years in its stride. The perpetual calendar can be set easily using the crown. It will not require intervention until 2100, a year that breaks with the conventional 4-year cycle and will not be a leap year.
One of IWC’s most outstanding innovations in the field of timekeeping is undoubtedly the analogue display of stopped times between 1 minute and 12 hours: they are shown together on a single subdial at “12 o’clock”, where they can be read off just like the normal time of day. Stopped times up to 60 seconds are shown, as usual, by the central chronograph hand. Thanks to the flyback function,the chronograph can be reset to zero without having to be stopped first. To turn this innovative watch-within-a-watch into reality, the designers integrated a double-pawl winding mechanism into the IWC-manufactured 89801 calibre. The movement consists of 474 components and builds up a power reserve of 68 hours.
The stainless-steel cases are machined meticulously by hand; the result is a vibrant interplay of shiny, silky matte and structured surfaces. The slate-coloured dial with its sun-pattern finish helps to give the watch its dynamic face. If the watch is tipped, thus changing the angle at which incident light strikes it, the light rays reflected by the polished surface move in a circular direction. The rotor takes the form of an elegant Spitfire silhouette, which reveals all its beauty through the sapphire-glass back.
Model: Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month Spitfire
Large double-digit displays for both the date and month
Leap year display
Stopwatch with hours, minutes and seconds
Hour and minute counters combined in a single totalizer at “12 o’clock”
Small hacking seconds
IWC-manufactured calibre 89801 Mechanical chronograph movement
Frequency: 28,800 A/h | 4 Hz
Power reserve: 68 h
Rotor in the shape of a Spitfire
Case, dial and strap
Stainless-steel case, slate-coloured dial, brown calfskin strap by Santoni, stainless-steel folding clasp
Glass: Sapphire, convex, anti-reflective coating on both sides
Water-resistant: 6 bar
Diameter: 46 mm
Glass secured against displacement by drops in air pressure
See-through sapphire-glass back