The IWC Chronograph Spitfire is Old School in All the Best Ways

Last week, we made the case for IWC’s non-pilot’s watches, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the brand’s most famous timepieces. The company makes superb pilot’s watches in several sizes, but the somewhat recently updated IWC Chronograph Spitfire model is what we’re here to talk about today. The watch features an in-house movement, brings solid value to the table, and can be had in a variety of case materials, all of which make it a compelling everyday timepiece.

Where many pilot’s watches and chronographs can be quite large, the Spitfire is a manageable 41mm, which makes it perfect for smaller wrists. The case’s 6 bar water resistance rating makes it the perfect companion for water wear, though a pilot’s chronograph might not be the first choice for a beach outing. Still, the peace of mind knowing that a splash or even swimming laps won’t damage the watch.

Beyond its wearable size and water resistance, the Spitfire’s compact 15.3mm thickness means it will slide easily under a jacket cuff. Tight dress shirts may have trouble, but the IWC is more than capable of dressing up or down, depending on the situation. 

Inside, the Spitfire features IWC’s 69380 calibre movement, which offers a 46-hour power reserve and 33 jewels. As an IWC-manufactured movement, the automatic, self-winding unit carries 231 individual components and a frequency of 28.8 thousand vibrations per hour. IWC says its movements are built to deliver a longer service life and to be beautiful while doing it. Though the Spitfire’s caseback is solid, the wearer can rest assured that the movement underneath it is finished to a high level of decoration.

The Spitfire’s dial is an artful collision of new and vintage-inspired elements. The hour markers at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock are finished with a cream-colored luminous material that gives the watch an aged, weathered look. The same finish is applied to the hands, which helps the Spitfire stand out as a technical but watch that remembers its roots. Some will say that the “faux patina” cheapens the overall look, but we think it’s a handsome addition to the Spitfire’s dial.

Like many other parts of IWC’s catalog, the Spitfire is available in a variety of finishes and dial colors. The standard stainless steel and black dial model is both the most traditional and the most affordable of the line, but the Spitfire can be had in bronze or ceramic. Bronze models feature a striking green dial that adds to their visual appeal, while the ceramic models are jet black and look every bit the tactical tool watch.

An IWC watch won’t draw the attention that a Rolex does, but that’s not quite the point here. People buy watches like the Spitfire because of their technical and historical appeal, and wearing one makes it easy to see that the timepieces from several decades ago still have a pull on today’s style. The Spitfire is a great example of IWC’s ability to blend old with new, and with its excellent value it should be at the top of any chronograph shopper’s list.