Quick takes: IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight”

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IWC announced the special edition timepiece developed for the pilots of the “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” project. Pilots Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones were on a mission to circumnavigate the globe in a Spitfire. The IWC Pilot’s Timezoner is easy to operate with gloves and created with the pilot in mind. We take a look at the watch, as the Silver Spitfire began its journey about a month ago on August 5, on the 75th Anniversary of D-Day.

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

We covered the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire in our Live from SIHH article.

The Spitfire

The Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II. Many variants of the Spitfire were built, using several wing configurations, and it was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts; nearly 60 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world.

The Silver Spitfire began its Longest Flight journey on Aug 5 this year. You can follow the progress of its flight here.

The Silver Spitfire is a Mk.IX Spitfire finished in polished aluminium with the guns removed. First manufactured in 1943, it has seen battle in 51 combat missions. And the military version carried the tail registration of MJ271. After de-militarization, it was re-registered as G-IRTY, and fully restored, and presented in bare metal.

For 2019 two intrepid aviators, Steve Boultbee-Brooks and Matt Jones will attempt to fly a Silver Spitfire around the world, taking in some of the most famous landmarks on the planet from the Grand Canyon in the West to the snow-capped peak of Mount Fuji in the East. IWC supported the project as a sponsor, and created this watch for the pilots. They took off Goodwood in England on August 5, 2019, on the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

The Case and Dial

The watch is cased in stainless steel and measures 46 mm in diameter. Similar in dimensions to the Big Pilot, it also uses a large onion crown and has a height of 15.1 mm.

The large size of the watch is good for legibility while on the job and the easy adjustments of the timezone using the bezel is a plus. Rotating the bezel sets the watch to a different time zone. The hour hand, the 24-hour display and the date are likewise adjusted automatically. This system was first seen on the IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Chronograph released in 2016.

The names of 24 cities are displayed on the bezel; each one represents one of the international time zones. The bezel is pushed down on opposing sides with the thumb and forefinger. The desired time zone (or, during the daylight saving time, the small “S” just before the city name) is then turned to the “12 o’clock” position. The movement of the bezel is transferred to the hour wheel, 24-hour display and date advance wheel, ensuring that all three displays can be adjusted forwards or backwards in one-hour steps. Drive for the normal movement of the hour hand and its “jump” when the time zone is changed is provided via a differential gear.

The 24-hour display takes the form of a rotating disc below the dial, and is useful for telling if its pm or am time. The styling of the watch is in typical military watch fashion, with a black dial and green textile wristband. Also fit with a closed caseback, the utilitarian timepiece is water resistant to 6 bar.

Other engineering invested in the timepiece also ensures that the sapphire glass is secured against displacement by drop in air pressure. The convex crystal is also treated with antireflective coating on both sides for enhanced clarity.

The Movement

The IWC-manufactured 82000 calibre ties in with the tradition of high-quality automatic movements from IWC. It is fitted with the highly efficient IWC Pellaton automatic winding system, which uses a bidirectional winding system. As in the IWC-manufactured 52000 calibre family, components in the system subject to pronounced stress, such as the pawls, the automatic wheel, or the cam, are made of ceramic which is highly resistant to friction and wear.

The movement beats at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 60 hours.

Concluding thoughts

The Timezoner is essentially a travel watch in a Big Pilot’s case. The Timezone change function is easy to use and useful for travelers that cross between timezones frequently. It is highly legible, and has tool-watch qualities, waterproofing, easy adjustments and purpose driven design.

The comparative downside as a travel watch however, is its lack of an easy to read 2nd timezone display. A GMT hand for instance could be more useful for someone who wants to know the ‘home’ and ‘away’ time at a glance. It is limited to 250 pieces.

Priced at US$12,400 before taxes, the watch is priced $500 lesser than the classic IWC Big Pilot. The Big Pilot comes with a 7 day power reserve, double barrel movement, and has an iconic design archetypal of a Pilot’s watch. It also uses a thick alligator strap instead of a fabric strap. That said, the Timezoner has the novelty of a quick change bezel which for some might be a bigger draw than a purely classic design.


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