When Mr. Albert Pellaton started with IWC in 1944, as technical director, one of the most important watches that he gave to the Schaffhausen based brand is the now famed — and highly sought after — Mark XI.
The Mark XI was first announced in the 1948 and was mostly intended for the Royal Air Force and a handful of other Commonwealth air forces.
In an earlier interview with legend and master watchmaker, Kurt Klaus, who at that time was assistant to Mr. Pellaton, shared saying, “It was his [Albert Pellaton] idea to make the inner case from soft iron. This was made because the Royal Air Force introduced radar instruments with very strong magnetic fields that disturbed the watches. It was completely different from its predecessor, the Mark X.
The Mark X used Calibre 83, the Mark XI used the Calibre 89 — Pellaton’s design. He created a completely new movement, the first with central seconds hand and the magnetic protection. I remember that I assembled these movements from 1957 when I started, and I recall that there was an engraving on the movement, the Royal Air Force’s broad arrow.”
Perhaps what IWC, or even a young Kurt Klaus and his mentor, would never have imagined at that time is that the Mark XI is the watch that has made the realm of pilot watches synonymous with the IWC’s name today.