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.

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Just over the week, IWC announced a reissue of that iconic watch: The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Tribute to Mark XI” (Ref. IW327007), which essentially the 40mm steel case of the 2016 Mark XVII fitted with a dial that has all of the original Mark XI’s details, save for IWC’s modern branding elements (kinda makes you wish they had gone with the International Watch Co. printing at 12 o’clock, like in the original).

The reissue is powered by IWC’s cal. 35111, protected from magnetism, much like the original, with a soft iron cage around the movement.

Those looking to get their hands on the watch will having to make a trip to Harrods in London, where it will be exclusively available from July to September of 2017. Thereafter, remaining units should be distributed across their more important boutique geographies. Better yet, if they make watch available on their newly minted e-retail platform.

Whatever the case maybe, fair warning, the watch is limited to run of just 1948 pieces (the year the original watch was produced).

Technical Specifications: The Pilot’s Watch Mark XVIII Edition “Tribute to Mark XI” (Ref. IW327007)

Movement

Automatic calibre 35111; hours, minutes and seconds; date indication; 42-hour power reserve

Case

42mm; stainless steel; water-resistant to 60m

Strap

Green nato-style textile strap

*Limited run of 1948 watches

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