IWC Quietly Introduces The New Pilot’s Watch Mark XX
Last month, IWC quietly introduced the latest update to its beloved Pilot’s Watch Mark series. So quietly, in fact, that it may have flown – see what we did there? – completely under your radar. Not to worry though, as an official brand partner and authorized Australian stockist, Watches of Switzerland has you covered with all the details of the new Pilot’s Watch Mark XX. Even better, both dial variants are available for purchase now online and in store. Read on for everything you need to know.
Schaffhausen’s Most Famous Pilot’s Watch
If you’re not already familiar with the world of pilots’ watches, a brief look back at history will help set the scene. IWC were one of the first manufactures to produce aviation tool watches, starting from the lead up to the Second World War. After the war, the Navigator’s Wristwatch Mark 11 was developed for the British Royal Air Force in 1948. From 1949, the watch was supplied to airborne personnel of the RAF and other Commonwealth nations, remaining in service until 1981. (A testament to the resilience of the design.) It also happens to be the original blueprint for the new Mark XX, but we’ll get to that.
Stamped with a “broad arrow” to indicate British Crown ownership, the Mark 11 was never made available to the public during its production years. Instead, this highly accurate, anti-magnetic instrument for astronavigation was primarily issued to Royal Air Force navigators and later to pilots. Developed to meet the specifications of the military contract, the watch was known for several key features, including a soft iron inner cage to protect the movement’s rate from electromagnetic fields (emitted by radar equipment), a secured front glass, able to remain in place even in the event of a pressure drop in the cockpit, and a clean, high-contrast dial with luminescent elements ensuring legibility no matter the visibility conditions.
By the time the Mark 11 was retired, the watch was well-known and much admired among pilots and aviation enthusiasts. More broadly, pilot’s watches were developing into an entire modern genre of the Swiss watch industry, with IWC playing a leading role. Starting in 1994 with the Mark XII, the brand has continued to pay homage to one of its most iconic models with a series of civilian-issue Mark watches. Following in the footsteps of the military legend, each has been state of the art in its construction. Which brings us to the latest iteration.
The New Pilot’s Watch Mark XX
At first glance, the new Mark XX seems to strongly resemble its predecessor, the Mark XVIII. Closer inspection though reveals a fully reworked design, all built around a new movement. The robust and corrosion-resistant stainless steel case still measures 40 mm in diameter but that’s about the only specification that has remain unchanged. And even then, thanks to the introduction of the new IWC-manufactured 32111 calibre, the round case is now 0.2 mm thinner, coming in at 10.8 mm. Which doesn’t sound like much on paper but is noticeable on the wrist. At the same time as slimming down the case, IWC has also managed to beef up the water resistance, increasing from 6 to 10 bar (100 m) water resistance.
The plain dial with Arabic numerals was a key feature of the military-issue Mark 11. Not surprisingly, subsequent civilian-issue Mark watches have remained true to this layout, with the exception of adding a date window, located at the 3 o’clock position. This may be the most visually apparent change in the Mark XX update. Previously, the colour of the date wheel matched the dial colour. For this iteration, IWC has chosen a contrasting white background – sure to be a polarizing decision but one that delivers maximum contrast.
Other changes to the dial are more subtle but still very much worth noting. For example, the hour markers at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock have been elongated to form rectangles in direct homage to the Mark 11’s design. In turn, all of the Arabic numerals (and the triangular marker) have shifted inwards ever so slightly, giving some breathing room between the intermediate numerals and the outer chapter ring. Finally, the hands also have changed. Previously edged with the same matt finish of the dial, they are now rhodium plated. Two dial colours are available, black and blue, and each is paired with a matching calfskin strap. The watch also features IWC’s EasX-CHANGE strap changing system, giving you the flexibility to quickly and easily adapt this tool watch to your own personal style.
5 Days Of Power
The biggest change to the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XX though is undoubtedly the one under the hood. Protected behind a closed case back, the self-winding IWC Calibre 32111 is part of the 32000-calibre family, a well-known range of IWC-manufactured automatic movements. Employing silicon technology for the escape wheel and pallet lever, these movements are wear-resistant and reliable. To store power, a bidirectional pawl-winding system winds the mainspring when the rotor moves in either direction. Previously this family of calibres offered a respectable 72-hour power reserve. The new 32111 calibre found in the Mark XX raises that bar to a whole new level, with a power reserve of 120 hours! That translates to 5 days – making the need to reset and wind very rare indeed.
Shop The New Mark XX Now
The Mark XX is a quintessential modern pilot’s watch executed in IWC’s unmistakable mould. Add into the mix a highly reliable self-winding movement with an exceptional power reserve, and a very reasonable price point, and it quickly becomes apparent that there is a lot of value on offer here. If you appreciate functional legibility delivered in impeccable style, this watch is for you. Don’t wait, click here to enquire today and let our experts do the rest.