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In the early days of aviation most pilots navigated with the help of pocket watches; wristwatches made especially for aviators were a rare thing. In 1940 IWC started producing the Big Pilot’s Watch in accordance with military specifications set down for a navigation or deck watch. It was the largest wristwatch ever made by IWC. With its extremely clean design, the dial was clearly organised and took some inspiration from the cockpit instrumentation in aircrafts of the time. This look was the inspiration for IWC’s design of the Mark II which was produced from 1948 onwards. The best known of the Pilot’s Watches from IWC was originally built for the RAF; it has been in service for more than 30 years.
In 1988 the launch of the first Pilot’s Watch Chronograph upheld the Pilot’s Watch tradition. During the 1990s, IWC continued its development of the watch line. Following hot on the heels of automatic winding, complications such as the split-seconds chronograph mechanism found their way into the Pilot’s Watch family. In 2002 IWC re-established its Big Pilot’s Watch tradition when it released a large timepiece with a 7-day movement and automatic winding, the design of which was based unmistakably on its larger forbearer launched in 1940. A year later saw the introduction of a Pilot’s Watch series named after the fabled British aircraft, the Spitfire. In its day the Spitfire was at the pinnacle of technology and was timelessly elegant.