IWC Mark XI
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
In the waning years of World War II, an aircraft was launched that would change the face of military aviation.
Gloster Aircraft Company, in conjunction with Power Jets Ltd.—who built the first turbojet in the 1930s—developed the Gloster Meteor. A prototype of the Meteor first flew in 1941, powered by the Power Jets WU. By 1944 it entered active service—the RAF’s first jet fighter.
Whole squadrons sprung up, devoted to learning how to fly the new aircraft, like the No. 616 Squadron based in Culmhead, Somerset. The Squadron conducted conversion to the Meteor from the Supermarine Spitfire under the utmost secrecy, with only six of the squadron’s best pilots receiving training. However, after one week the remaining 32 pilots were trained, and first saw action on July 27, 1944.
Used to the clunky piston-powered fighters like the Supermarine Spitfire and the de Havilland Mosquito, pilots thought the Meteor was exciting to fly. Of flying it, Norman Tebbit had this to say: “Get airborne, up with the wheels, hold it low until you were about 380 knots, pull it up and she would go up.. like a rocket.”
The year after the Gloster Meteor first saw combat, the De Havilland Vampire entered the war.
Like the Meteor, the Vampire was De Havilland’s first excursion into jet propulsion. In 1944, the company’s test pilot, Geoffrey de Havilland (son of the company’s founder), flew the first prototype—serial number LZ548/G. On May 13, 1944, the military placed an order for 120 of the Vampire Mark I, which was increased to 300 shortly after.
The first Vampires flew in April 1945, conducting night flights against the Axis powers.
That December, on the 3rd of the month, a Sea Vampire piloted by Capt. Eric Brown of the Royal Navy became the first pilot of a jet-powered aircraft to take off and land from an aircraft carrier, the HMS Ocean.
Alongside the Vampire and Meteor, a watch was commissioned that answered the ever-changing needs posed by military aviation.
In 1945, the Ministry of Defense issued a new standard—coded 6B/346—that necessitated that all military watches bear a chronometer-grade, antimagnetic movement.
Two manufactures were given the contract—Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC. IWC’s version, the Mark XI, was notable for the soft iron cage that enclosed the movement, acting like a Faraday Cage to repel the magnetic field emitted by instruments in a airplane’s cockpit. It entered military service in 1948 and was decommissioned in 1981.
Beloved by collectors, the Mark XI exemplifies the truest notions of a tool watch.
This particular Mark XI has a bit of an interesting story. With an issue date of 1948, it’s one of the earliest Mark XIs to enter military service and bears a first execution dial notable for the lack of an encircled T. This marking, usually found above 6 o’clock, denotes that the dial was switched out for less-radioactive tritium sometime during its service history.
However, since this Mark XI doesn’t have that marking, it’s most likely that it was never serviced by the MOD—interestingly enough, we have reason to believe that the pilot who wore it (whoever he was) might have absconded with it after his time in the military was up.
Whatever its story, this Mark XI is a true veteran and an excellent example of this highly-attractive and highly-desirable watch.
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