Photography by Ape to Gentleman
Watches are such a personal preference- what looks good to me, might not to you. There’s no right or wrong. Sure there are better materials, more reliable movements and different designs but the emotional connection to a brand is often the main selling point. I once watched a video on YouTube where a drunk man was discussing whether or not a Rolex Submariner was better with or without the cyclops date window. I’d viewed many a technical video, none making my decision any easier, but the ‘drunk man’ said, “look, just buy the date-watch, it’s louder and people are more likely to notice you own a Rolex” – which I guess is the point of owning a watch which shouts out loud. Conversely though, and this is the kicker, without the date, it’s more subtle and less loud, which you might prefer.
One watch however which plays a more subtle card is the new IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII. Historically, the IWC Mark XVIII is a descendant of what many herald as the iconic pilot’s watch. The original IWC Mark XI which was built in 1948 to the specifications of the British Ministry of Defense, who required chronometer-grade accuracy, resistance to magnetic fields (produced by aircraft electronics) and best possible legibility.
The result was a 36mm (diameter) watch with big lumed Arabic numerals around the dial with a triangle at 12 o’clock, and a soft iron dial and soft iron cage surrounding the movement. The Mark XI immediately became a timeless hit and was made for decades until it was replaced in 1993 with the Mark XII. The watch has undergone numerous iterations since, but for the most part has retained the simple, legible dial and anti-magnetic build that made it so popular in the first place.
In detail; the dial of the IWC Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII is reduced to the essentials; everything is clear and legible. The brilliant white hands and indices on the matte black background have a luminescent coating for legibility day or night. The dial features large, rounded Arabic numerals to mark the minutes, with two exceptions: the 12 has been replaced with a white triangle with dots at either side, while the date window is positioned where the 3 would usually be. The watch, which is water-resistant to 6 bar, is powered by an automatic 30110-calibre movement and has a 42-hour power reserve. With its soft-iron inner case for protection against magnetic fields and a front glass secured against displacement by sudden drops in pressure, the Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII takes up the tradition established by its historic forebear, the legendary Mark XI. The watch comes with a wonderful black calfskin strap by Santoni and is automatic/ self-winding.
As before; the XVIII is similar to previous iterations but with significant improvements over the last couple of generations, that bring it closer to the Mark Series’ roots. The result is an everyday watch of serious ilk- suitably worn with a suit or equally so with jeans as a more causal affair. It’s 40-millimetre stainless-steel case is sizeable and manly enough whilst not being overly large. It maintains a refined yet robust feel. And this theme is IWC all over; well-made, historical, understated (on the most part) and superbly well branded.
Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII, £3,490 by IWC Schaffhausen