The IWC Mark XVIII is a pilot’s watch that has become one of the biggest buzzes in the community of informed watch enthusiasts. Its release in 2019 was an event that marked a new option for those with a fondness of pilot’s watches with their high functionality and the hope for a new and interesting presentation of the practicalities with a desirable and new aesthetic to keep things fresh and new. The timepiece marks a period in the evolutionary process of its predecessor, the Mark XII, which arguably, took the center stage as one of the favorites in pilot watch styling and function. The latest version of the Mark deserves a closer look.
A smaller family member
According to Montredo, the Mark XVIII maintains distinct family lines with the DNA that ties it to the legendary Mark XI, one of the earlier versions of the pilot’s watch. It’s one of the smaller pilot’s watches designed and produced by IWC with its 40 mm width. It seems tradition to produce larger pilot’s watches although the rationale is not quite understood for the larger size. Every bit, still a luxury timepiece, it goes for a selling price of just under 5,000EUR, affordable, but by no means inexpensive for its class and familial ties.
Specifications of the quintessential pilot’s watch
I like to start with the foundations of the case to describe key elements of a worthy timepiece such as the IWC Mark XVIII. It’s available in six versions with various dial colors and straps. The Petit Prince is a limited edition with a brown calfskin strap and a dark blue dial. Other versions come with a black dial or a white dial with a metal bracelet. The case is made of stainless steel material with angular features finished with a fine brushed surface. It has a width of 40 mm and a depth of 11 mm with a solid case back of the same material. The crown is a screw-down type that enhances the water resistance to 60 meters, which is lacking in robustness, but not a deal-breaker for most. The bezel is thin and understated in fixed styling. The movement is a 30110 caliber automatic self-winding type that beats at a frequency of 28800 vph at 4.0 Hz. It’s a 25 jewels mechanism with 163 components, including Cotes de Geneve, perlage, and a power reserve of approximately 42 hours, made in Schaffhausen, Switzerland. It’s a modified ETA 2892 movement with a quick-set date feature and a minimized date display with only the day and not the previous days offered as its predecessor.
Various dial versions
There are six versions of the dial to choose from, but all offer a lustrous appearance in sunlight with a shiny appearance from the election against the sapphire crystal lens covering. IWC provides the variety to help suit the personal preference of those who desire more choices than white, black, or blue, which seem to be the standard options for pilot’s watches. A brown dial version is also available with a sporty yet sophisticated aesthetic.
The IWC website provides details about the most outstanding features of the Mark XVIII. These include the signature protective feature of a soft-iron inner case to guard against interference from magnetic fields, a necessity for any pilot’s watch. The sapphire glass is convex for superior legibility and view and also coated with anti-reflective treatment on both sides to eliminate glare from bright sunlight. The crystal is secured from displacement and potential air pressure drops. Another noteworthy function is the central hacking seconds. The hour indicators are large and easy to read, making the watch an ideal choice for those who require amplified visuals.
The type of strap that comes with the Mark XVIII depends on the version that you prefer. Most are offered with a leather strap crafted of genuine calfskin material. There is little play in the action of a brand new strap as they are designed to fit tightly against the lugs with little to no movement. This can cause a slight creaking until the timepiece gets properly broken in. The leather versions of the strap feature a pin and buckle style closure made of stainless steel. Some versions come with a metal bracelet that is made of stainless steel with Perlee finishing on the exterior. This option comes with a folding clasp type closure made of stainless steel for securely affixing it to the wrist.
The IWC Mark XVIII is a more modern iteration of the Mark family of pilot’s watches offering a smaller size for the first time for the brand. It’s unusual to find a 40 mm pilot’s watch from any manufacturer. We like the addition of the soft-iron for the inner case that gives the watch its high resistance to magnetic fields, but it could be a bit more robust with regards to its water resistance, if nothing else’s, to fully round it out as a robust timepiece. Not a dealbreaker, just an observation. There are pros and cons which we’ve pointed out, but overall, the IWC Mark XXVIII is a positive step forward in the evolution of the line and it offers a sporty yet versatile aesthetic that makes it suitable for a variety of social settings with various modes of attire. We’d classify it more as a casual to the casual-dressy timepiece with exceptional functionality and performance. The moderate size and weight make it a comfortable watch to keep on the wrist all day without too many frills or adornments that keep it simple yet stylish. The price of just under $4,300 is reasonable for a high-end luxury pilot’s watch.