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IWC ‘Mark XI’ Big Pilot watches take flight in titanium and bronze

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IWC Schaffhausen is building on its heritage of making watches for the British armed forces with the release of a Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire inspired by the field watches it made for the country’s Royal Air Force in the post-World War II years.

Over the past century, IWC has produced numerous watches for different branches of the British military, characterized by reliable movements, functional designs with easily legible dials, and purpose-built technical features such as soft-iron inner cases to provide protection against magnetic fields.

One of the best loved is the Mark XI, a navigation watch engineered in 1948 for the British Royal Air Force.

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The new Big Pilot’s Watch 43 Spitfire — one in bronze, the other in titanium — are descendants of the Mark XI and its contemporaries.

The titanium piece, priced at $8,950, has a black dial inspired by historical observation watches where only the minutes and seconds are printed in white on the outer ring, while the hours appear smaller and in a more discreet grey print on the inner ring.

Traditionally, this layout made it easier for pilots and navigators to read the minutes and seconds at just a glance.

A $9,350 model in bronze, which will develop a darker patina over time, comes with a military green dial and gold-plated hands.

Both 43mm watches use IWC’s manufacture 82100 automatic movement with 60 hour power reserve, which is protected by a titanium case back carrying an etching of a Spitfire seen from above.

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