IWC Mark XVIII: A Guide To The Exquisite Modern Pilot Watch

Known for being one of the top names in the Swiss watchmaking industry today, IWC has been creating timeless, streamlined, and fully functional pieces for both men and women. These products are not only made with a passion for Swiss watchmaking craftsmanship but also with utmost dedication to producing straightforward yet distinct and well-thought-out designs. This is why many genuine watch aficionados and even casual wearers continue to patronize the label. IWC’s line-up of watches may be too simple for some in terms of appearance and color choices, but their classic aesthetics are undeniably cool and striking. However, what stands out the most among IWC’s offerings is its premier and popular collections of pilot watches, which exhibit a different level of sophistication as well as amazing features.  One of which is the IWC Mark XVIII. Considered a new addition to the Mark series and a direct successor of the iconic IWC Mark XVII, the IWC Mark XVIII carries a cutting-edge design coupled with ultramodern features that effortlessly make it a quintessential pilot watch of today.

Let’s take a closer look at this top-tier timepiece, which continuously raises the reputation of IWC among other luxury watch brands. How does it differ from the previous IWC Mark watches? What makes it so special among the other aviation watches released by the brand? More specifically, let’s find out why it deserves to be included in your must-have list.

The IWC Mark Pilot Watches Through The Years

With the growing trend for aviation watches in the 1930s, IWC also developed a desire to create their own take for the said timepieces to help improve the lives and work of pilots. The brand wanted their very first pilot watch release to not only withstand any kind of extreme threats such as high and low temperatures ranging from -40 degrees Celsius to 40 degrees Celsius and extreme light conditions but also provide a distinct touch to any style. This is why the IWC Special Pilot’s Watch, also known as the “Spezialuhr für Fliegerand “Mark IX”, which was released in 1936, came with a tough and shatterproof crystal as well as an antimagnetic escapement that thoroughly protects the watch’s movement, called the Caliber 83. Aside from having a rotating bezel that comes with an arrowhead indicator which pilots can use to take note of various periods times especially when the plane is about to take off, the watch also features large and luminous hour-markers and hands that provide legibility no matter what time of the day it is. Not to mention, its color scheme is on the neutral side, which makes it not too overwhelming to wear and carry around.

IWC Mark X

A few years later, IWC then released an enhanced and much more conventional version of their classic pilot watch, reserved only for military use. Called the IWC Mark X, this model was part of the British Armed Forces’ official military watch line-up, which they later supplied to their troop members. The pilot watches included in the said list, which was known today among collectors as the “Dirty Dozen”, carry various specifications required by the British Ministry of Defense. These features have aided the army in fulfilling their duties for their country. Together with the watches produced by other big names in the industry at that time such as Omega, Buren, Eterna, Cyma, Longines, and Jaeger Le Coultre, the IWC Mark X started accompanying the missions and voyage of British military members in 1944.

The Mark X pretty much had similar characteristics as the Mark IX. Both had humongous indexes and clearly visible texts and hands. The case is also huge enough to fit all types of wrists, whether slender or wide. However, there are still some modifications that significantly improved how the watch performs in general. Some of them are not that noticeable unless inspected closely or unless you open the watch and see the core. Other than the fact that the 35mm watch has a tough Faraday cage that protects the mechanism from any kind of magnetism, the watch is also equipped with the Caliber 83 15 movement that brings utmost precision and longevity. The movement exactly runs at 18,000 vibrations per hour (“vph”), which is quite a good number for watches released during the same era.  If the troops needed to plunge into the water for their expeditions, they did not have to worry as the watch’s exterior is protected by a strong and hard ring, which also has waterproofing attributes — thus, the birth of the markings that say “W.W.W.” which stands for Watch, Wrist and Waterproof.

Amidst all these, what sets this watch apart from the other watches included in the “Dirty Dozens” is its extraordinary snap-on caseback. While it makes the timepiece more susceptible to moisture risks, the caseback is still pleasing and appealing to look at. IWC made sure to even secure it by using a lead seal to protect the whole watch. Indeed, this is the vintage model you should look out for if you want something that does not only offers amazing functionalities but also remind you of a very important period in our world’s history.

IWC Mark XI

The IWC Mark XI or simply the Mark 11 Pilot Watch is one of the most sought-after and prized timepieces ever released by the brand. First launched in 1949, it marked the beginning of IWC’s popularity in terms of creating legendary aviator’s watches that are not only meant for professional pursuits but also while conducting your daily commitments and endeavors. Embodying sophistication in all aspects, the watch comes with a water-resistance and anti-magnetism capability as well as a sleek dial, with luminous shapes at the end of the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 12 o’clock positions. Not to mention, the watch’s hands are also a mixture of baton shape and sword shape, which makes it easier for anyone to identify the respective placements dedicated for the hour and the minute. The signature is also not too big or small, which prevents wearers from experiencing major distractions. Moreover, the dial is in a cool black color, which blends well with the silver hue of the case. To guard the watch against extreme pressures, it also comes with a screwed top ring, along with luminous hands that gleam effectively especially during dark conditions.

Created specifically for the Royal Air Force (RAF), the Mark XI is the epitome of a true IWC Pilot watch for it boasts the much-needed attributes that an aviator will need. While the aforementioned models, namely the Mark IX and the Mark X, boast great features that most pilot watches have and that you never simply see in other vintage models we see lurking around the secondhand markets today, they are not considered Pilot watches since they specifically accompanied the British army for their tasks. What’s more, the Mark X watches do not come with any anti-magnetism capacities that a genuine aviators watch should have. Despite the confusion, the Mark IX, Mark X, and of course, the Mark XI became extremely well-loved by all watch connoisseurs given how neat and readable their dials are. The color combinations they came with also easily fit most men’s tastes.

IWC Mark XII

IWC Mark XII

The IWC Mark XI watch maintained a healthy and solid fan base for around four decades. It is not so surprising to see given how trailblazing and stunning it is, from its pristine exterior parts and luscious strap down to its firm caseback and trustworthy movement. In fact, it did not need any tweaks at all, both major and minor, proving that the amount of hard work IWC poured into making such an incredible model was all worth it. However, as the demands for an upgrade of the iconic timepiece continued growing, IWC finally made a decision to release a new jaw-dropping version in 1993, which now comes with an automatic mechanism.  Called the IWC Mark XII, this 36mm model looks identical to its direct predecessor, with few minor upgrades on the side. The unacquainted would surely have a slightly difficult time telling them apart.

One of the differences from the IWC Mark XI that you will instantly notice is that it comes with a different movement, thus the appearance of the “Automatic” text on the bottom part of the watch’s dial, just above the 6 o’clock position. Aside from this, the luminous indicators beside the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 12 o’clock marks are slightly faded, but they do not affect the overall appeal of the timepiece at all. Lastly, the watch also comes with a date indication that seamlessly replaced the 3 o’clock position, which is quite convenient if you like to be updated all the time and if you like keeping things organized.

IWC Mark XV

IWC Mark XV

The IWC Mark XV watch marked the beginning of the brand’s journey and relationship with the general public. Six years after the Mark XII was introduced, the Mark XV started gracing the retail stores with much sophistication and gracefulness. Rather than embodying a utilitarian vibe, the watch had a much simpler concept that was easier to comprehend and navigate. This is pretty much the reason why many enthusiasts consider the Mark XV as a piece that is more suited for regular civilians, despite being included in the brand’s aviation and military watch lineup.

Apart from boasting a bigger case size of 38mm, this time-and-date only timepiece also utilized an automatic in-house 21-jewel Caliber 37524 movement based on ETA 2892-A2 rather than a 36-jewel mechanism produced by another luxury company, Jaeger Le Coultre, which you can see in IWC Mark XV’s predecessor. It also has a date window, sitting closely beside the 3 o’clock position. Proudly showing the world the brand’s magnificent creation, the signature is also written in a huge font that creates a well-balanced look for the whole dial.

IWC Mark XVI 

IWC Mark XVI

Continuing their legacy and expressing their desire to keep up with the fast-paced world, IWC dedicated itself to putting out more watches under the Mark series. The brand’s vision is to make them look more cohesive yet unique to the eyes of many, with little to no modifications included. To fit the taste of modern men, the succeeding timepieces are not only characterized by neater and chicer dials but also bigger case sizes.

Signaling the new century ahead, the company released the very first contemporary version of their iconic aviator and navigator timepieces in 2006. Called the Mark XVI, the 39mm timepiece endorsed variety by replacing the 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 9 o’clock, and 12 o’clock positions with baton-style and triangle indicators as well as a date display, while also giving wearers additional strap options like leather ones. The hands also give a direct ode to the brand’s classic Big Pilot watch, given that they look longer to match the diameter of the dial. In terms of power, the Mark XVI utilizes an in-house movement known as the IWC 30110, which is also based on the ETA 2892-A2. Despite all these big changes, the watch still demonstrates amazing anti-magnetic resistance as well as the ability to battle strong water pressures.

Unable to fully accept the changes brought by modern times, IWC loyalists were against the whole idea of the Mark series’ major revamp, which is why the brand was left with no choice but to halt the Mark XVI’s production in 2012.

IWC Mark XVII

IWC Mark XVII
IWC Mark XVII | Photo @sjpulvirent on Instagram

Every painful ending leads to new beginnings, as they say, and true enough, IWC was able to quickly rise from the heavy criticisms by releasing the IWC Mark XVII watch in 2012. As many brands are becoming more fearless when it comes to themes and designs during that time, IWC also plunged into the trend by coming up with a very experimental look for the said timepiece.

With a case size of 41mm and a height of 10.8mm, the Mark XVII is still considered the biggest watch from the series. Swaying away from usual layouts, you will also see a medium-sized vertical date display on the right side of the timepiece, with a bright red pointer that serves as its focal point. Adding a more glamorous feel, it also comes with a stainless steel bracelet with a clicking adjustment clasp. Just like its close predecessor, it relies on the Caliber 30110, which has a power reserve of up to 42 hours.

IWC Mark XVIII: The Handsome Tool Watch That Breaks Barriers

IWC Mark XVIII Edition "Le Petit Prince"
IWC Mark XVIII Edition “Le Petit Prince” | Photo from Nathan Ashfield on Flickr

The IWC Mark XVIII, also known as the Mark XVIII and the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII, is considered the latest update to the iconic and timeless Mark series that solidified the brand’s reputation as a leader and expert in manufacturing trustworthy aviator watches. Launched in 2016, the watch may not be one of the newest offerings by the brand, but it is undeniably among the well-loved and celebrated pieces ever released by IWC throughout its entire history — all because of the simplicity and directness it brings to the table. Although often mentioned in a lot of horological conversations and watch forums because of the sudden reversal in terms of its general updates from the face composition, additional features such as the date display as well as case size, the Mark XVIII undeniably bears a high level of prestige, as well as enticing charms similar to what general vintage IWC watches exhibit. This makes it a great collector’s item for any watch lover who constantly seeks to put thrill into their collection.

Taking inspiration from one of its original forerunners called the Mark XI or simply Mark 11, which also takes the lead in many star-studded auctions due to its historic and trailblazing attributes, the IWC Mark XVIII  is exquisite in all aspects. However, this pilot watch can also pass as an everyday dress watch despite the athletic and commanding feel it gives off from time to time. Apart from carrying close resemblance to its predecessors, which attest to how IWC likes keeping things in a consistent manner, the timepiece also carries reliable and strong components, further making it a valuable watch you could even pass down to the succeeding generations.

Anatomy of the IWC Mark XVIII

Among the most coveted models from the diverse IWC Mark XVIII line is the IW327009 version. It may look quite plain on the outside but it will surely change your perspective about tool watches once you get to know it from a deeper perspective. If you are currently in the process of deciding whether you should finally give in to the temptation and purchase the watch, here are specifications and other important details you should familiarize yourself with. The following information will convince you that it is an incredible piece to own and that it is worthy of gracing your wrist.

 

IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII Ref. IW327009

  • Case material: Stainless Steel
  • Case dimension: 40mm
  • Movement: Mechanical, Automatic
  • Power reserve: 42 hours
  • Water resistance: 60m

Case

With just one look at the stunning case of the IWC Pilot Mark XVIII Ref. IW327009, you will instantly know why it is slowly becoming a hot item these days despite being released a few years ago. Unlike its direct predecessors, this one sports a case size of 40mm, which is quite smaller than the Mark XVIII but slightly bigger than the timepiece that inspired the whole Mark series, the Mark XI. The dimensions are not too large or too small, but rather just enough to fit any wrist. Many were expecting that IWC will release the follow-up to their 2012 model with a humongous case size based on the trend it implements. However, the brand demonstrated the unexpected with the Mark XVIII. Despite this, the case stands out not because it has ornamentations or patterns but because it is straightforward yet attractive from every angle. Due to the case’s wide arrangement, any consumer would find the watch comfortable and convenient to wear. Not to mention, the proportioned structure also allows potential wearers to fully admire the beauty of its smooth dial. Slipping the watch under your shirt’s cuff would not be a problem either, given how this specific Mark XVIII model only measures up to 11mm in height and 50mm in terms of lug-to-lug size.

When it comes to durability, you do not have to worry as well since this understated timepiece is made with a sturdy and low-maintenance stainless steel material. Aside from the fact that it can handle a few bumps and slight impacts, it also ensures that the core and other inner parts of the watch are protected from all kinds of moisture and corrosion threats. While the bezel does not offer any kind of special characteristics like a tachymeter scale or diamond embellishments, it still looks pristine because of its beautiful satin finish. Giving contrast to the rest of the watch, the top ring is in a silver hue, giving off an industrial appeal. Matching its aesthetics, the lugs are also in the same color, with a defined yet curvy structure that provides more edge to the overall appearance of the timepiece.

Crown, Caseback, Crystal, and Water Resistance

IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII Ref. IW327009, IWC Pilot Caseback

There are many good things worth noting and emphasizing about the IWC Mark XVIII Ref. IW327009. Even its smallest parts such as the crowns and crystal bear great significance.

Apart from bearing an emblem that showcases the logo of the brand, the crown of the screwed-down, which makes sure that it remains with a water resistance of up to 60 meters or 197 feet. This is not a bad specification at all considering that you can still bring it to your trips to the pool as well as casual snorkeling activities. Despite not having any crown guards at all, the crown still looks great due to its oversized figure as well as fluted patterns on the sides.

When it comes to the caseback, the watch definitely proved its creativity by placing a grand logo in an airplane shape in the middle, symbolizing that the Mark XVIII is part of IWC’s iconic lineup of pilot watches. Placed against the same polished stainless steel material just like what you will see in the front, a text that says “International Watch Co. / Pilot’s Watch” surrounds the emblem neatly, along with other vital information, such as water resistance and serial number. For those who are fond of seeing the watch’s movement from time to time, you might need to note that this model does not give a glimpse of the mechanisms at all. Despite this, IWC attests that the caseback will protect the whole watch from dust, rust, water, and any kind of threats that might harm its performance. Plus, being an aviator’s watch, the Mark XVIII is equipped with a soft-iron inner case, which thoroughly prevents it from coming in contact with strong magnetic fields that could potentially affect its accuracy.

Almost all other luxury brands in the market utilize the infamous sapphire crystal for their watches, but IWC still incorporated the said component into their creation since it offers a much more reliable level of strength compared to its competitors. Aside from keeping the piece secured from abrupt changes in atmospheric pressures, sapphire crystal rarely gets affected by scratches and impacts unless they are major ones. Moreover, the material provides convenience to any wearer since its appearance is always clean and smooth, ensuring that you will be able to read the time precisely anytime, anywhere. These are enough reasons to explain why watches made with sapphire crystal— such as the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII — are quite hefty on the pocket. At the end of the day, the brand just wants the best for their loyal and potential customers, while also giving them more than what they paid for.

Dial

IWC Pilot's Watch Mark XVIII Ref. IW327009

Nothing much has changed in terms of the dial of the IWC Mark XVIII watch, when put beside the Mark XI and the Mark XVIII, which are its original blueprint and forerunner, respectively. All of them want nothing but to bring modesty, legibility, and clearness, which is why the unacquainted would always get confused about how these supreme watches differ from one another. However, by doing lots of research and reading, you will know that Mark XVIII is a remarkable timepiece on its own, with modern technologies serving as its backbone.

Crafted to organize the perspective of the user, the dial of the IWC Mark XVIII is only equipped with the essential functions you will be needing on a daily basis. In the case of pilots, the dial only has features that are necessary for doing their jobs appropriately. One of these useful functionalities is a date window peeking at the 3 o’clock position. Despite causing major commotions in watch forums due to its peculiar arrangement, the date display still does its job well mainly because the texts you will see on its surface are in a crisp white color, which endorses good readability.

Since the watch’s dial is slightly textured and is coated with a deep black color, featuring white-toned hands and Arabic-style hour-markers that complement the overall neat look, anyone can easily determine the time without feeling overwhelmed at all. Specifically, both hour and minute pointers are in Flieger-style, which you typically see in the IWC Big Pilot collection as well as other contemporary members of the Mark series, while the seconds hand is elongated enough to promote greater legibility. To make the watch look more simple, the brand added the 6 and 9 numerals back to the dial— which disappeared in the Mark XVII watch — with the exception of the 12 o’clock and 3 o’clock mark that still embody the same triangle and date display layout, which also serve as a way to pay homage to historic IWC watches produced by the brand in the past. What’s more, these huge markings, along with the hour and minute hands, are coated with luminous elements, powered by the SuperLuminova technology for better visibility, especially when faced with dim light conditions. IWC could have done a better job in putting lume to all of the hour-markers, but the watch is still exceptional even for the years to come. All in all, the arrangement of all elements found in the background is symmetrical and well-categorized, which makes room for more focus and fewer distractions when it comes to the timekeeping process.

Movement

Hailing from a renowned brand, you can only expect that the IWC Pilot Mark XVIII Ref. IW327009 will deliver only the best service especially when it comes to its movement. This is why IWC made the 163-component Caliber IWC 35111 automatic movement as the said timepiece’s source of power. This mechanism takes after the Sellita SW300-1 movement, which boasts a power reserve of up to 48 hours. Not to mention, it also has 25 jewels and runs at a frequency of 28,800 vibrations per hour or 4.0 hertz. Since the IWC 35111 movement is somehow thin, you would not be able to see any bulging shape on the back of the watch. Emphasizing its great capacities, it also makes the movement of the central seconds hand swift and on point.

Price of the IWC Mark XVIII

Despite being the latest addition to the Mark series, the IWC Mark XVIII watch is more reasonably priced than its direct predecessor. This is understandable though since IWC removed a lot of features from the Mark XVII to create the simpler yet cooler Mark 18 timepiece. With a typical price tag of around $4,000 USD to $5,000 USD, you will surely get not only the best pilot watch aesthetics but also powerful mechanisms that you deserve. Despite the heavy competition between other aviator watches such as those being offered by Zenith and Breitling, it is no doubt that purchasing IWC Mark XVIII is something you would not regret doing.

Should you get an IWC Mark XVIII? 

If you’re a fan of pilot watches in general or you tend to go for the functionalities being offered by the said timepieces, the IWC Mark XVIII is definitely the way to go. It is a good entry point to the diverse realm of IWC Pilot watches and it would also give you an idea about how dedicated IWC is in its craft and workmanship in general. Aside from this, the piece in question is a great conversation starter given its history, despite being a time-and-date-only watch. Not to mention, this watch is one of the most talked-about IWC watches in horological discussions and online forums.

Final Thoughts

While many assume that tool watches, specifically aviator timepieces are only meant for professionals, the IWC Mark XVII watch proves otherwise. This timepiece is the perfect example of a modern tool watch, which you can effortlessly rock at all times no matter what situation or occasion. Its stunning appearance, coupled with its amazing and cutting-edge features makes it a watch worth getting. Known as one of the groundbreaking pilot watch inventions ever unveiled by the brand, the timepiece simply demonstrates the true purpose of aviator watches and why we still need them despite the growing demands for more innovative — perhaps digitalized — watches. If you have been wanting to anchor your collection with a tool watch that you can use and abuse in the coming years, then you should definitely check out the IWC XVIII. Who knows? It might even be considered as an iconic watch in the future just like its older siblings.

Interested in knowing more about IWC as well as its other fantastic offerings? Check out our reviews on the IWC Big Pilot and IWC Portofino

Featured image from IWC’s website

Other photos from IWC unless stated otherwise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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