When talking about pilot’s watches, the name IWC should quickly come into the discussion. The brand is one of the most legitimate manufactures in this field, with its first dedicated watch for pilots dating back to 1936. Then followed B-Uhr models, the famous Mark Series, the 1990s pilot’s chronographs and, of course, the legendary Big Pilot’s Watch. Without surprise, the Schaffhausen-based brand was a partner of choice for the very cool project named “The Longest Flight”. While a special Timezoner Spitfire was launched to celebrate the start of the journey, IWC also unveils a watch to commemorate its end: the Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire Edition “Mission Accomplished” IW510506 that we’ll be looking at today.
The Longest Flight
The “Longest Flight” project isn’t your typical Concorde-like-comfort Tour du Monde… It has been a bit more challenging than just refuelling a jet plane and crossing borders. It all started with the Boultbee Flight Academy – the world’s first Spitfire training school – and pilots Steve Boultbee Brooks and Matt Jones, who decided to restore one of the most legendary aeroplanes ever created, a monumental piece of British history, their “Silver Spitfire” that got its name from the unique polished aluminium surface.
On 5 August 2019, the two British pilots embarked on their flight around the world in their antique Spitfire, and after covering a total of almost 43,000 kilometres and visiting over 20 countries on the way, they accomplished their record-breaking flight “The Longest Flight” precisely four months later. IWC had supported the expedition “Silver Spitfire – The Longest Flight” as the primary partner and official timekeeper by first providing the pilots with a special Timezoner watch. Once the journey was over, the brand unveiled a new edition called “Mission Accomplished”.
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire
Looking at this limited edition reference IW510506, there’s no doubt that it is part of the Big Pilot collection… However, there are multiple details that immediately draw your attention to let you know that it isn’t your typical, black dial automatic Big Pilot’s watch. In fact, although the overall shape and the oversized proportions have been respected, most of the elements – materials, colours, display, complications and, of course, movement – are unique to this Spitfire Edition “Mission Accomplished” model.
As a true Big Pilot’s Watch should be, the “Mission Accomplished” edition is an oversized aviation-inspired model. And as such, it is a large, chunky, expansive flying instrument. Measuring 46.2mm in diameter – the same as a regular production Big Pilot – and with a height of 15.2mm, you can’t avoid the feeling of wearing a clock on the wrist. But this exaggeration of the proportions is intentional and, dare I say it, this is exactly why IWC’s Big Pilots have always been cool. Large, for sure, but cool. Oversize is a word that is as important to this watch as legibility. Now that we’ve talked about the elephant in the room, let’s move on to the rest, shall we?
For this edition, IWC applies the classic Spitfire collection theme that we’ve seen in this chronograph or the Pilot’s Watch UTC. This means a case made of matte bronze – with a finely beadblasted surface. As you can see with the present example, which has already been worn for several months, the case will gain patina and the original golden colour of the material will slowly (or quickly, depending on how you use the watch) fade to become a green-brown colour. Rest assured, the alloy used by IWC is quite stable and no “toxic-like” green patina will grow on the case. The diamond-shaped oversized crown, which screws in, is also made of bronze. Typical features of IWC Big Pilot’s watches are present, including the sapphire crystal secured against displacement by drops in air pressure or the soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields. With a 6-bar rating, the water-resistance is comfortable.
The same Spitfire-theme has been applied to the olive-green colour of the dial. While the Top Gun editions by IWC are technical and modern, the Spitfire watches play with vintage elements, hence the presence of propeller-shaped hands or the use of cream-coloured indexes to recall patinated tritium material. Still, legibility and contrast are great and the watch will certainly perform as a flight instrument. In the same vein, the hands are gold-coloured to match the bronze case.
The most noticeable thing with this Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire Edition “Mission Accomplished” is its display. While a classic model will indicate the time with central H-M-S, completed by a power reserve at 3 o’clock and a date at 6 o’clock, this edition features a large date display positioned at 12 o’clock and balanced by a small seconds counter at 6 o’clock. The date is indicated by two non-overlapping discs.
Under the titanium embossed caseback is a movement that is also completely different from what’s used in a regular Big Pilot’s watch. A hand-wound engine, the calibre 59235 is a large and powerful in-house movement that can store up to 192 hours or 8 days of power reserve, with a single, oversized barrel. It runs at a 4Hz frequency and despite being almost entirely hidden, it is pleasantly decorated with Geneva stripes and bevelling. A small circular window allows a view on the power reserve indicator, a necessary feature when having a movement with such a long power reserve.
Strap, Availability & Price
The IWC Big Pilot’s Watch Big Date Spitfire Edition “Mission Accomplished” IW510506 is a limited edition of 500 pieces, worn on a smooth brown calfskin strap with bronze rivets and pin buckle. It is priced at EUR 16,600, CHF 17,100 or USD 15,800.
For more details, please visit iwc.com.