Tuesday, 4 July 2017

IWC's Mk XVIII Homage to the Historic Mk XI Military Pilot's Watch

A favourite in my vintage watch collecting days was my IWC Mk XI, sadly sold a few years ago. Introduced in 1948, these were high quality pilot's watches, designed to be accurate enough to be used as navigational chronometers (in the days when aircraft were navigated by sextant), to be immune to the magnetic influences of an aeroplane and to have adequate water resistance. Minimalist in design, these were, in my view, among the most attractive military watches ever designed. Sadly, collectors agree and good examples can cost over £6000.

The 1948 IWC Mk XI (left) and its modern tribute Mk XVIII (right)

IWC have continued their heritage of producing pilot's watches (see more about them here) in the Mk XVIII and they've now added a limited edition homage to the Mk XI (or Mk 11) to this range. IWC kindly asked me to take part in a photoshoot launch of the new watch at Harrods, London, where the watch will be exclusively available for three months before going on wider release. 


While a true copy of the MK XI would be interesting, this is a tribute watch and not a pastiche. It's realistically been updated for the modern wearer. It's 40mm in diameter (the original was 36mm), has an automatic movement (the original was hand-wound) and a date (none on the Mk XI). The homage is an attractive, practical and high quality timepiece.

The new: the IWC Mk XVIII homage to the Mk XI (below)

An original 1948 IWC Mk XI pilot's watch

Watch aficionados call watches designed as practical timepieces 'tool watches' as they are made to be used for a specific purpose, rather than simply as a decorative object that happens to tell the time. The Mk XVIII homage is very much a tool watch, with (like its Mk XI predecessor) good magnetic and water resistance (it has a screw-down crown like a diver's watch). It's not rated formally as a chronometer, but the example I've been using keeps almost perfect time. 


The dial keeps the look of the original and even the luminous markers have that creamy colour of a vintage watch. The squared ended hour hand, pointed minute hand, matt black dial and triangle in place of the 12 are all true to the Mk XI. The watch comes on a quality grey/green NATO-style leather-backed textile strap. The durable design and minimalist black dial make this watch very adaptable and it could be worn with a suit for work or with shorts on the beach.

Other brands are delving into their archives as they recognise the popularity of vintage wristwatch designs. IWC were ahead of this trend and they make highly wearable and useful watches. I'll be very sad when I have to give my Mk XVIII back. 

Priced at £3790 in a limited edition of 1948 pieces, click here to see more about the Mk XVIII Tribute to the Mk XI Pilot's watch. Available exclusively at Harrods until end September 2017. 


My old Mk XI can be seen below - I wish I still had it!

Images Grey Fox Blog

This is a collaboration with IWC.

1 comment:

Rich said...

I'm the proud owner of a Bremont (and I hope you enjoyed Henley!) and like the IWC mk XVIII and the new limited edition very much. A great write up. Rich (age 44)

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