This week, the Palexpo facility in Geneva, Switzerland, will become the center of the watch world for the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie, or SIHH, a luxury watch show rivaled only by BaselWorld in relevance and prestige. We’ve got a team on the ground, there to bring you the most exciting releases. Follow our coverage here, and also be sure to check out Instagram. We’ll be posting to our feed throughout the week.
Price: $4,350 (steel); $4,900 (bronze)
Movement: IWC manufacture calibre 32110
Case Diameter: 39mm
Case Thickness: 10.6-10.8mm
Case Material: Stainless steel or bronze with titanium back
Water Resistance: 6 Bar
Unique Features: 72-hour power reserve; in-house movement
Upshot: There are quite a few releases this year from IWC in time for SIHH 2019, many of which are tool watches, but perhaps the most accessible is the Pilot’s Watch Automatic Spitfire, priced at $4,350 in steel and $4,900 in bronze with a green dial. Taking numerous design cues from the “Mark” series of watches, the Automatic Spitfire upgrades the original pilot’s watch line with a brand-new in-house movement from the IWC 32000 calibre family.
Who It’s For: Those who like the aesthetics of the Mark line (currently at Mk. XVIII) but who perhaps want something a little different (red text on the dial; a yellow triangle at 12 o’clock; the option of a bronze case, etc.) should certainly check out these two offerings, as well as someone who cares about in-house calibers. Additionally, someone who’s looking to make his or her first purchase and would like a tough, everyday tool watch should check out the Automatic Spitfire — with 39mm cases, power reserves of 72 hours and glass secured against displacement by drops in air pressure, these are certainly two watches that can take a beating without any fuss.
First Impressions: Following in the footsteps of IWC’s original pilot’s watch line (the Mk. XI dates way back to 1948), the Spitfire Automatic features a perfectly sized case at 39mm (admittedly a step up from the original 36mm of the Mk. XI, but excellent proportions for a modern watch). One slight annoyance (of which there were very few) with the Mk. XVIII was that the use of the ETA 2824-2 meant that the date window was positioned slightly inward of the hour track, making for a certain degree of aesthetic awkwardness. As the Spitfire Automatic uses the new 32000 calibre and has been designed from the ground-up, the date window appears slightly better positioned and makes for a better dial in person.
Insight: Bronze cases paired with green dials seem to be somewhat of a popular trend over the past few months across several brands. The use of the material for the Spitfire Automatic makes for a handsome watch, especially given that the shade utilized is a dark olive color and appropriate to the military origins of IWC’s pilot’s watch line. The vintage-style lume and matching yellow triangle at 12 on the steel-cased version differentiate the watch somewhat from the Mk. XVIII and give it something of s vintage aesthetic, and the addition of a green textile strap on this model (the bronze version ships on a brown calf leather strap) furthers the mil-spec look. Of course, the main attraction may be the inclusion of the 32110 calibre movement from the 32000 family, giving these two models more value than their ETA-equipped cousins in the Mark line.