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IWC’s 75th anniversary pilot watch is an understated gem

IWC's pilot watches have come a long way since 1948, but the focus on beauty and function remains consistent


IWC Schaffhausen’s Mark Series 75th anniversary is so nice, the brand celebrated twice with a pair of new versions of the Pilot’s Watch Mark XX. The three-quarters-of-a-century mark calls for gifts made of diamonds or gold for wedding anniversaries. The new IWC watches are more understated, but stunning nonetheless.

All about the Pilot’s Watch Mark XX

Both are silver-plated. One also has a stainless steel bracelet, while the other is designed with a black calfskin strap. The dial is white with black accents — a classic combination for a timepiece with a deep history. The Mark Series began in 1948 after a request from the British Royal Airforce. Military pilots who wore the watch, codenamed “Mark 11,” nicknamed it “the navigator’s wristwatch.”

These special IWC pilot watches weren’t available to civilians until 1993 with the release of the Mark XII. The first launches of the Mark XX were released in 2022 — the first new version of the iconic timepiece since 2016’s Mark XVIII. That one had blue, green, and black dials, making the celebratory release for this year distinct (and refined). More than style, the high-contrast numerals make the watch a cinch to read, a practical-yet-fashionable feature. The luminescent elements on the dial also make the watch readable in various lighting conditions.

IWC pilot watches may have roots steeped in British military history, but they’re powered by contemporary technology. The in-house 32111 automatic movement boasts 120 hours of power reserve. The watch’s front glass is designed to stay put even if the wearer experiences sudden pressure drop — a common event for pilots in cockpits, passengers, and other adventurers at high altitudes. Speaking of adventures, the IWC Mark XX watches, the two newest releases, are housed in a 40-millimeter stainless steel case that boasts 100 millimeters of water resistance, just like the initial Mark XX releases. This makes the timepieces perfect for sports and beach days.

The new IWC Mark XX watches are available now. The calfskin wristwatch costs $5,250, while the stainless steel version is $6,150. Buyers can purchase the new Mark XX watches at or in person at IWC boutiques or authorized retailers. Because the price tag may make the watches an investment for some, IWC is offering registration under the My IWC care program, which includes a six-year extension to the standard International Limited Warranty that lasts two years.

Are watches a good investment in this economy (the one with a recession looming)? That depends on who you ask, but experts say it’s important to consider brand, scarcity, condition, and personal preference. They’re not a necessity, but the new IWC watches, indeed, are gorgeous additions to any collection.

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BethAnn Mayer
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