IWC Mark XI
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
In 1917 a pocket watch made by the International Watch Company flew with its owner, a pilot in the Luftwaffe.
That was the first watch made by IWC to take to the skies, but it wouldn’t be the last: it was the start of a long and fruitful relationship between the manufacture and aviation, which saw its zenith in the 1930s and 1940s.
This was due to the love two young men had for airplanes: the sons of Ernst Homberger, the managing director of IWC. In the late 1930s, aviation was changing, as countries in Europe built up their air forces for the war that loomed on the horizon. The planes metamorphosed from the boxy wooden gliders of the First World War into the fat-bellied bombers that would rain death on Europe during World War II.
The needs of pilots changed as well. Like Alberto Santos Dumont—who inspired the creation of the first commercially available wristwatch (and arguably the first pilot’s watch), the Cartier Santos—the sons of Ernst Homberger needed a watch specifically suited to their needs. So they brought their idea to their father; thus, the Special Pilot’s Watch was born.
In the next decade, watches made by IWC would take flight in greater numbers, as IWC continued to supply watches to the navigators in the nighttime bombing raids the Luftwaffe carried out during the Blitz.
But perhaps IWC’s most iconic pilot’s watch was created in 1949, a product of peacetime, not of wartime.
That year, the Ministry of Defense issued a new standard, coded 6B/346. This standard required chronometer-grade and anti-magnetic movements for all watches destined for use by military personnel. Two manufactures were granted the contract: Jaeger-LeCoultre and, of course, IWC.
IWC adapted its best movements and materials in the creation of that watch, the Mark XI.
Instead of the Calibre 83 that IWC used in its previous military watches, the manufacture adapted the Calibre 89, which was developed by Albert Pellaton and is generally regarded as the best three-handed watch movement of all time. To meet the MOD’s rigorous requirements for anti-magnetism, IWC encased the Calibre 89 in a soft iron covering.
After a 44-day period of rigorous testing, the Mark XI entered service in 1949; it remained in use until 1981, reliable to the last.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
IWC Mark XI