When a company with such a long history like the International Watch Company or IWC Schaffhausen chooses to pay tribute to a particular watch, you know there will be a stunning story that comes with it. And that is exactly the case for the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Tribute to Mark XI”.
Yeah, the name is quite a mouthful but this tribute watch represents IWC’s throwback to their original Pilot’s watch, the Mk. 11 which IWC made from 1948 until 1981. As the story goes, the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) needed a watch which could meet the stringent conditions befitting use in aviation and so they put out a new navigator’s watch standard: 6B/346 also known as the Mk. XI/Mk. 11.
The MoD then took it to the London-based jeweler Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co., Ltd. and eventually after reaching out to various manufacturers, it was IWC and Jaeger-LeCoultre who secured the commission (according to Worn & Wound). So, beginning in the late 1940s these watches were supplied primarily to the Royal Air Force (RAF) but were also used by other Commonwealth armed forces. But where JLC’s Mk. 11 was discontinued in 1953 (due to its inadequate shock resistance) IWC continued to be the sole supplier of the Mk. 11 until the early 1980s with an approximate of 8,000 units manufactured between 1949 and 1953 alone.
Back to the modern version of this classic timepiece. The IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII had already been around with the updated Pilot’s collection back in 2016; but this particular version of it pays tribute to the design of the original Mk. 11 by going back to the triangle marker instead of a ‘12’, adding four luminescent triangles at the “3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock”, and by using the rectangular baton hour hand. The movement is the Calibre 35111 automatic movement with 42 hours of power reserve and it also has a soft iron cage to protect it from magnetism (which was one of the requirements for the original as well).
The watch is limited to only 1948 pieces worldwide in reference to the birth year of the Mk. 11. It will be exclusive to Harrods in London for three months starting in July 2017, after which, it will be available for purchase in all IWC boutiques and authorized retailers worldwide.