Today I will walk you through the IWC Spitfire Perpetual Calendar in 18K red gold (Ref 379103). Unveiled in Jan 2012, the Spitfire Ref 379103 is an exemplary and intriguing timepiece I have been meaning to examine more closely for some time now. Part of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Collection, the Ref 3791 is first and foremost to be recognized as a first-class timepiece — as any watch with a perpetual calendar generally is. As you can see, the outward aesthetics of this piece do not belie the Ref 3791′s first-class nature — it is a gorgeous timepiece, with a radiant ardoise (slate) colored dial and (largely) brushed 18K red gold case, which together enclose the technical tour de force that is the IWC 89800 column-wheel, flyback chronograph caliber with digital calendar display. There is much to appreciate and discuss about this IWC Spitfire Perpetual Calendar — here’s a first look:
IWC Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital-Date Month (Ref 379103)
46mm red gold case (17.5mm thick), brown alligator leather strap
Note the interplay of polished and brushed surfaces on the watch case
Upon closer examination you can see that the dial is elegantly and thoughtfully arranged, offering both the full calendar measurements of date, month, year, and leap year, as well as a clever and easily interpreted display of the elapsed chronograph time in the form of a singular subdial at the 12 o’clock position (inner section-hour, outer section-minutes). The white center-set is chronograph seconds; at 6 o’clock is a small hacking seconds subdial.
Of note is use of digital date and month display; though certainly not new (see “Did You Know?” below), this format is unusual for IWC as compared to, say, the manufacture’s lauded Ref 5023 Series Portuguese Perpetual Calendar which predominantly uses the more traditional manner of displaying these figures.
The one shortcoming of the Ref 3791 for me is the lack of a “Day of Week” indication as can be found on many other Perpetual Calendars, the aforementioned Portuguese Ref 5023 being one example.
Turning to the caseback, the sapphire crystal display back reveals the automatic mechanical caliber in this timepiece: a rotor in the form of a Spitfire aircraft immediately captures and holds the attention of the eye. It also dds to the element of the sportiness of the watch. Below the rotor (or on top, depending on point of view), the heart of the mechanical chronograph movement comes together to deliver the myriad functions on this watch.
More technically speaking, I would refer you to a writeup of this watch on the IWC Forum by Alexandar Linz; Linz aptly describes the technical aspects of the IWC calendar mechanism which sits atop the 89361 caliber, and I recommend you click through if interested to learn more about the calendar module on the 379103 Spitfire.
All in all, I see the Ref 379103 IWC Spitfire Perpetual Calendar Digital Date-Month as a harmonious blend of sport, luxury and technical brilliance. And for the IWC buyer who is desirous of a perpetual calendar, it is also a worthy and comparably priced alternative to the Ref 5023 Portuguese Perpetual Calendar.
Did You Know?
IWC produced the first “digital” watches in its history as early as 1884. The “Pallweber watches”, as they were known, displayed the hours and minutes using numerals, while the seconds were shown in analogue form with a hand.