IWC Mark XII
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IWC Mark XII

The history of IWC can be said to be one of marriages. For example, a marriage of the Old World to the New, or of the craftsmanship and tradition of the Swiss with American innovations and technology. But perhaps the most enduring association is between IWC and aviation.

When an American watchmaker named Florentine Ariosto Jones arrived in Schauffhausen, Switzerland, he found a city almost frozen in time. Though the Industrial Revolution had swept through America (where Jones worked as a director of a prominent watchmaking company), in Switzerland the situation was very different. Watchmakers still plied their trades by their own firesides, as they had done for centuries; but Jones had in mind something different: an American-style factory where the watches would be designed and assembled in keeping with the old Swiss ways.

His methods caught on, and soon there were 196 people employed at his factory.

Though IWC was founded 35 years before Wilbur and Orville Wright’s first flight, the association between aviation and IWC began just as the aviation age dawned. A pocket watch made by IWC in the 1890s found its way into the pocket of one Robert Albert Lotter. Lotter was a pilot in the German Luftwaffe who served with distinction during the First World War.

Two decades later, in 1936, IWC would release a watch that set the standard, more or less, for what a pilot’s watch is supposed to be—in fact, this watch, the Spezialuhr für Flieger or Special Pilot's Watch, was the first specially-designed pilot’s watch. Another would follow in 1940, the Big Pilot, which has spawned an eponymous model in IWC’s current collection. However, despite the Big Pilot’s current popularity, it was the Special Pilot’s Watch that would lay the cornerstone for IWC’s most iconic line: the Mark series of pilot’s watches.

IWC released the Mark XI in 1948 according to specifications set forth by the British Ministry of Defense. These watches had to be legible, compact, and able to withstand exposure to the magnetic fields emitted by instruments in an airplane’s cockpit. The Mark XI, therefore, had a black dial with large luminous Arabic numbers, and the Calibre 89 movement (regarded as perhaps the best mechanical movement ever produced) was encased in an iron cage.

The Mark XI entered military service in 1949 and was decommissioned in 1981. It was not replaced in the Mark line until 1993, when the Mark XII was introduced. The Mark XII maintained the look and the feel of the Mark XI, but featured an automatic movement and a date wheel. The movement, the IWC caliber 884/2, was based on the JLC caliber 889/2. 

The Mark XII, more refined than its predecessors, launched the Mark line into the realm of civilian wear. And yet it retains the austerity of the military watches it succeeds, with a stainless steel case in un-fussy matte finishing. Attractive and versatile, it's at home on the modern wrist, a perfect marriage of military precision and modern sensibilities. 

Details

SKU: AS02111

Stainless steel case is approximately 38mm (excluding crown). IWC/JLC Caliber 884 automatic movement. Circa 1993.

Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with crisp lugs and only minor signs of use and wear in keeping with age, including some dings on the sides of the case and on the bezel. Black dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing and the beginnings of a fine creamy patina to the luminescent (tritium) elements of the hour markers and hands. Signed crown. Signed case back has some minor signs of wear but is in otherwise very good condition.

Includes one 19mm stainless steel IWC bracelet.

Also includes box and papers.

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