The IWC MK XII
By J. Heffner | @pinaplwtchsA simple discussion on a simple watch
The IWC Mark series is an iconic line of watches spanning decades of production. They’ve become quite popular in the watch community, and even serve as the backbone of the IWC brand.
It’s no secret that IWC is known for their pilot watches as the brand cut their teeth during the 1940s, issuing timepieces for various militaries during WWII. Fast forward to today, and we see how IWC continues to capitalize on this history by offering pieces similarly designed to the originals yet in a modern fashion.
The Mark XII is no different. Today our discussion examines the history of this piece, its construction, and place in the watch collecting community.
In 2000, Richemont acquired the IWC as a subsidiary brand. This Mark XII, however, was produced during the ‘pre-Richemont’ era at a time when IWC still had their independence as a watchmaker (albeit following a rough patch during the Quartz Crisis).
To appreciate the thought behind the MK XII, we must first understand how significant IWC has been in shaping the modern pilot’s watch.
During WWII, IWC was one of the original five manufacturers of the B-Uhren watch for Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe.
During the late 1940s and early 1950s, the brand supplied Mark XI watches for the British RAF and Australian Air Force. Additionally, during this era, IWC introduced the caliber 89, one of their most technically advanced and accurate calibers to date.
The history of IWC can be summarized as both a dedication to fine watchmaking, and tool watches intended for both military and pilot use. This heritage culminates in both their neo-vintage and modern catalog.
Inside the 36mm stainless steel case of the MK XII is the IWC caliber 884. This movement is based on the JLC caliber 889-2, and features an added date window at the 3 position.
Interestingly, the movement inside this IWC is protected by a soft iron case. The purpose of this added feature is to repel and protect against magnetism. Because of this, the watch lends itself even more to the tool watch sphere, proving capable in its intended environment.
The mesh bracelet on this piece has proven to be a popular feature of its design, a characteristic unusual of watches from the same era. The bracelet is of very high quality, and the fit and finish is even on par with watches more costly. If the bracelet isn’t your thing, though, this piece is an absolute strap monster with the ability to dress up/down easily.
All things considered with the MK XII, why should it be on your radar?
Simply put, the MK XII is a blend of the Hamilton Khaki and Rolex Explorer in more ways than one.
This IWC features some of the same military, field watch-esque designs of the Khaki line, characteristics that make it so popular amongst collectors. Yet there are many hallmarks of a more expensive Swiss tool watch such as the soft iron core, high quality movement, and finely constructed bracelet.
Ultimately, considering these props, this piece remains a sleeper in the watch market, even though its versatility appeals to most collectors in this price range.
Through researching and experiencing this piece, the MK XII went from being an ambiguous IWC to a watch on my radar. At a glance, it’s simplicity done right, yet stands proudly on decades of heritage and innovation - what’s more ‘IWC’ than that?