One of the pre-SIHH releases that got my attention was the IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight,” a limited edition piece that trims down 2016’s Timezoner Chronograph. There is an appetite for wearable travel watches, and while this Timezoner doesn’t really get there, it’s an interesting halfway point that pares down the existing Timezoner Chronograph and may demonstrate intentions for the future through a low-batch limited edition piece. Further, I hope this means that Christoph Grainger-Herr, IWC’s CEO as of last year, recognizes that the brand’s core strength is in their pilot’s watches and will continue to hone, iterate, and perfect these watches before expanding the brand’s middle-of-the-road offerings like the Da Vinci.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight.”
Inspired by the inside of the Silver Spitfire plane, rather than exterior, this Timezoner comes in a great matte black dial and also has an all-new movement. Only 250 pieces of this will be made, but it’s not going overboard to expect more pared-down, consumer-friendly Timezoner offerings from IWC.
I was considerably happy about IWC’s decision to not make any of their new Spitfire pieces with brighter silver dials because, frankly, the only reason to do so would have been because that’s how Spitfire versions have been done in the past. The tastefully done matte black dial (as seen in the Timezoner) and green dial watches look superior to previous Spitfire iterations, and are much more in line with what buyers want these days.
The existing Pilot’s Timezoner Chronograph has its appeal for sure, but with a chronograph, GMT, and worldtimer function, I always found it to be so “heavy” with complications; I couldn’t imagine regularly wearing it in all its 16.5mm-thick glory. Still, this new Spitfire version doesn’t satisfy my hunger for an everyday worldtimer from IWC for a couple of reasons, one of which is that, at 46mm wide and 15mm thick, it doesn’t really lose the weight one would expect when dropping the chronograph.
And while the GMT hand is gone, the addition of a 24-hour altimeter-style aperture may give PTSD to IWC fans who thought the triple-date display was gone. Few people could loathe the old triple-date aperture more than I did, but I do have to give credit for the execution of the 24-hour aperture here. First off, being located at 12 o’clock rather than 3 o’clock drastically helps with the symmetry issue. Secondly, with a design that opts out of the GMT hand, there has to be a way of differentiating a 24-hour aperture from a date aperture, and this is a decent execution.
The joy of the IWC Timezoner lies in its simplicity of use. By rotating the ceramic bezel in either direction, you can set the time by moving a city to 12 o’clock. It’s absolutely convenient and fun to use, but for all it offers, you can’t track two time zones, as the 24-hour aperture is tied to the home city. Our Zach Piña explained it well when he wrote:
“…while it’s extremely convenient to be able to so easily adjust to local time upon landing at a new destination, the fact remains that both the local and home times are slaved to each other. This contradicts the beauty of the original UTC – and a number of other ‘true’ traveler or worldtime watches, wherein the hour hand can be adjusted independently of home time, or multiple zones can be read at once. The likely defense of the Timezoner is that its worldtime bezel enables the wearer to easily jump to an unfamiliar time zone simply by rotating it until the present location reads just above the cardinal triangle at 12:00. But the ability to tell the exact time difference between Tokyo and Los Angeles is still lost here, as the 24-hour window acts more like an AM/PM indicator for the current zone than a home time indicator.”
The “new” movement used here is the caliber 82760 which, as of now, is only used in this limited-edition watch. This is a modified movement in the 82000 caliber family from IWC which all have the Pellaton automatic winding system, as well as use of ceramic in several areas of the movement (such as automatic wheel and cam). This allows the movement to not wear down much, allowing for long-term accuracy and less servicing needed in the long term. The movement operates at 28,800 vph and has a 60-hour power reserve.
You won’t see the movement here, though, as there is a closed case back that has the Silver Spitfire engraved along with whatever number out of 250 the specific piece is. The watch is water resistant to 60M, as well.
As nice as the IWC Pilot’s Watch Timezoner Spitfire Edition “The Longest Flight” (exhales) is, I’m cautiously hopeful to see IWC create pilot’s watches that are both uncompromised as well as pared down in size. Of course, this demands expensive and time-consuming investments in new movements, let alone cases. Still, with this being new CEO Christoph Grainger-Herr’s first SIHH, I am more optimistic about IWC than I have been in a very long time.
Price for this 250-piece watch is $12,400,and you can see more at iwc.com.