The very first IWC Pilot’s Watches of the 1930s and 1940s set technical benchmarks, and their dial design determined the overall appearance that has remained so distinctive to this day. During the pioneering days of aviation, most pilots had to navigate with the help of pocket watches, because special wristwatches for pilots were still few and far between. By contrast, the first Special Pilot’s Watch, built by IWC in 1936, already featured a rugged glass, a rotating bezel with an arrowhead index for instantaneous legibility and an antimagnetic escapement, together with high-contrast, luminescent hands and numerals.
From 1940, IWC started producing the Big Pilot’s Watch (52-calibre T. S.C.) in accordance with military specifications. It featured an IWC-manufactured watch movement and large seconds hand. With a case measuring 55 millimeters in diameter and weighing in at 183 grams, until 2016 it was the most voluminous wristwatch ever made by IWC. In terms of precision, it met chronometer standards as well as the technical demands placed on a military navigation or observer’s watch back in those days.
This instrument look was the inspiration for IWC’s design of the Mark 11 with its hand-wound 89 calibre. The Pilot’s Watch Mark 11 with a black dial and luminescent white Arabic numerals was produced in Schaffhausen from 1948 until the early 1980s. It was primarily supplied to the Royal Air Force but was also used by other Commonwealth armed forces. Its movement is enclosed in a soft-iron inner case to shield the movement from magnetic fields.
In 1988, the Pilot’s Watch tradition was taken up and perpetuated by the Pilot’s Chronograph. The Pilot’s Watch Double Chronograph followed in 1992 with a split-seconds mechanism and automatic winding.
In 1994, a subsequent civilian model – the Mark XII – started the enduring tradition of Mark Pilot’s Watches, which have long since been among the most popular watches manufactured by IWC Schaffhausen.
The new IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Tribute to Mark XI”
The new Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Tribute to Mark XI” (Ref. IW327007) incorporates aspects of the iconic design of the historic Mark 11. The small rectangles at “3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock” and the hands are coated with luminescent material to ensure optimal legibility, even at night. The model differs from the Mark XVIII from the current collection in that the indices are thinner and the triangular index at “12 o’clock” is not flanked by two dots. Like the original from 1948, the watch is worn on a green textile Nato strap. A soft-iron inner cage protects the automatic calibre from magnetic fields and the sapphire glass is secured against sudden drops in pressure in the cockpit.
The IWC Schaffhausen Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Tribute to Mark XI” special edition will be available exclusively from Harrods in London for three months starting in July 2017.
After this, it will be available for purchase in all IWC boutiques and authorized retailers. This special edition is limited to 1,948 watches.
Price: 4750 Euro.